Boise National Forest | Outdoorsy

Boise National Forest
Guide

Introduction

Searching for your next outdoor adventure or relaxing getaway? Look no further because Boise National Forest has everything you need for a memorable time spent away from home. Located in west-central Idaho, this national forest boasts millions of acres of diverse forest and grassland to be discovered. Three mountain ranges cross the forest, making for a diverse geological landscape. A wide range of wildlife species call this area home, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some from your RV on the scenic highway leading into the forest.

People from near and far come to explore the Boise National Forest and its wide range of activities all year round. Some of these activities include rafting, fishing, hiking, and snowmobiling. It’s no surprise that this national forest sees over six million visitors each year. Whether you’re seeking an adrenaline rush or just a peaceful retreat from the stresses of everyday life, Boise National Forest has got you covered.

The park has many paved roads, making it easy to haul a trailer or maneuver an RV. Out of the over 70 campgrounds in the forest, 30 are RV and trailer friendly. We’ve taken the stress out of your decision-making processes and have highlighted three of the top RV friendly campgrounds in Boise National Forest.

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Camping Accommodations

99'
Max RV length
99'
Max trailer Length
Electrical hookup
Water hookup
Generator use
Food storage
Sewer hookup
Dogs & cats

RV Rentals in Boise National Forest

Transportation

Driving

Boise National Forest stretches across over two million acres in west-central Idaho. The forest is located just two hours northeast from the state capital, Boise, and is easily accessible from Highway 55 or Highway 21. Many of the campgrounds are situated off of these two highways on paved roads for easy accessibility. For a more scenic route, the Wildlife Scenic Byway is accessible in Banks, right off of Highway 55. Drive slowly because wildlife is abundant on this particular stretch of road.

Because some of the forest is located in the mountains, various roads within the park are steep and difficult to maneuver with large vehicles. Be especially vigilant if you are traveling in the winter months as snow and ice can affect the driving conditions as well. If you are traveling in an RV or pulling a trailer, avoid Scott Mountain road due to its rocky and narrow roads. Some roads within the park are often closed or inaccessible to large vehicles due to mudslides, flooding, and other inclement weather. Plan ahead and check for updates on your route before starting on your expedition. You can check the Boise National Forest website for current information.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Boise National Forest

Campsites in Boise National Forest

Reservations camping

Silver Creek Campground

Silver Creek Campground is one of the largest RV campgrounds in the forest. Single and double campsites are available along with two group campsites, coming in at 57 sites total. The campground is open from mid-May to the beginning of November. Reservations for single and double sites can be made up to six months in advance, and group camping can be reserved up to a year in advance. The campground is accessible for RVs and trailers up to 50 feet in length. Located just 25 miles north of Golden Valley, you’ll find paved roads and paved parking spurs within the campground. However, at an elevation of 4,490 feet, the route up the mountain to get to this campground can be steep and often congested on busy peak season weekends. The campsites are equipped with fire rings, picnic tables, and utility tables. Vault toilets and drinking water are also available nearby. Partial shade provided by lodgepole pine grant relief in summer months, as well as Silver Creek running next to the campground. Campers will find numerous trails nearby, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, as well as OHV and horseback riding. A range of wildlife call this area home, and whether your fishing, hunting, or just observing, you won’t be disappointed. Feel free to bring your own furry friends along in the RV, as this campground is pet-friendly.

Hot Springs Campground

Hot Springs Campground is located at the base of a wooded hillside just east of Golden Valley off of the Banks-Lowman Highway (The Wildlife Scenic Highway). This unique campground is open from the end of May to the beginning of October, and reservations can be made up to a year in advance. There are only three campsites, so make sure to book well in advance! Two of the three campsites can lodge up to 200 guests each, which could make it the perfect place for a family get together, or any other kind of retreat with large groups of people. The campsites are far apart, allowing plenty of room for privacy during your stay. Each site is equipped with picnic and serving tables, grills, and campfire circles with benches. Vault toilets, drinking water, and trash collection are also available on-site. The highlight of this campground is, as you may have guessed, hot springs! Just across the road on the South Fork of the Payette River, you can find multiple hot springs open to anyone who knows they’re there. If the springs aren’t enough excitement for you and your group, the river also offers kayaking, rafting, and fishing. Other popular activities in the area include hiking, wildlife watching, and brushing up on your history at various information kiosks. This campground can hold rigs up to 99 feet in length.

Swinging Bridge Campground

Situated just ten miles north of Banks, Swinging Bridge Campground is easily accessible off of Highway 55. The scenic drive in will prepare you for an enjoyable stay at this small campground with just nine campsites. Swimming Bridge Campground is open from the end of May to the beginning of September. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Each campsite is equipped with a fire ring and picnic table, and vaulted toilets and drinking water are available on-site. The campground is nestled into a canyon surrounded by Ponderosa and lodgepole pine to provide a cool, shaded retreat from the hot summer days. The North and South Fork of the Payette River are located nearby and offer excellent activities such as rafting, kayaking, and fishing. Whitefish and rainbow trout are known to be plentiful on this particular stretch of river, so pack your fishing poles in the RV if you choose to stay here. The maximum vehicle length at this campground is 40 feet.

Seasonal activities in Boise National Forest

In-Season

Boating

Boise National Forest has thousands of miles of rivers and hundreds of lakes. Adrenaline junkies and swimmers alike can discover stretches of water or beach suited for their hobbies. Whether it be fishing, canoeing, rafting, or swimming, you won’t be without options. Kayaking and rafting draw visitors to the Payette River for adventure, with private outfitters available to guide the way if need be. For a more relaxed day on the water, the forest has an abundance of lakes and streams to canoe around or take a dip in on a hot summer day. Check out the featured campsites below and find a place to stay right on the water and be up close to these refreshing activities.

Mountain Biking

Feel free to bring your bicycles along on this RV camping trip. Boise National Forest is home to an extensive trail network, one you could see from the seat of your bike. Check out a plethora of creeks, flora and fauna, and awe-inspiring views of the forest. If you’re up for a challenge there are a range of trails with more difficult paths, steep ascents, rocky descents, and water crossings- but don’t forget to pack a helmet! Note that you may be sharing trails with hikers, horseback riders, and maybe even some wildlife. Many trails start right from the campground and vary in length.

Hiking

Get your hiking boots laced up for a trek you’re not likely to forget, and don’t forget your camera in your campervan! Boise National Forest knows how to show off with scenic views of mountain tops, brisk rivers, and thick forests. Boasting an impressive trail system with over 1,200 miles of trails that vary in length, nature lovers of all skills sets can enjoy a hike in the forest. Most trails start right from the campground, so you can start or finish your day with a peaceful walk. On warm days, there are streams and lakes to cool off in if you need a break from the path.

Off-Season

Winter Sports

The fun doesn’t stop once the snow comes to Boise National Forest. When the weather changes, the scenery and activities change along with it. Whether you’re into snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, or snowmobiling, the trails are maintained for winter and are ready to be explored. Popular snowmobiling paths include the Wellington Snow Park off of Highway 55 with 400 miles of trails and the Cascade Reservoir equipped with a warming hut. The Bogus Basin near Boise and the Tamarack Resort outside of Cascade are popular amongst skiers and snowboarders.

Hunting

There’s plenty of hunting to be done in the peak and off-season in Boise National Forest. Big game hunting is popular here and involves a range of species including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, mountain goat, black bear, and mountain lion. Make sure not to leave your RV or trailer for more than 14 days to adhere to the rules of the Idaho Fish and Game Department. Make sure you stay up to date with licensing and registration information.

Fishing

Boise National Forest contains 28 different species of fish waiting to be caught. The Cascade Reservoir is as popular amongst anglers as it is to snowmobilers. If you’re lucky, you might snag some perch or rainbow trout while ice fishing on the lake. Trout can also be found in the rivers and streams inside Boise National Forest, many of which may run right next to your RV site. A few of the most popular fishing rivers include the North, Middle, and South Forks of the Payette River and the North, Middle, and South Forks of the Boise River. The Boise River is stocked with fish year-round and runs between Barber Park and the Glenwood Bridge.

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