The Deadman Hole Recreation Site is a BLM-managed campground on the banks of the Salmon River near Challis in Idaho. The recreation site is in a scenic area of the state and surrounded by the Sawtooth National Forest, the Challis National Forest and the jagged peaks of the Lost River Mountain Range.
The Deadman Hole RA sits in a tight bend of the river which curves around on itself to almost form a pool. The site is sheltered from the elements by steep, grass and shrub-covered hills. There are just five primitive campsites at the recreation site and they're allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. If they've already been taken when you get there, you'll need to find an alternative place to pitch up in your RV.
Most RV campers heading to the Deadman Hole Recreation Site are looking to enjoy some fishing on the Salmon River. It's a tranquil area popular with hunters too who are in search of bagging an elk or mule deer. It's also a favored spot for canoeists and kayakers to enter the water for an exciting paddle downstream. While there's no whitewater on the section of the Salmon River running by the Deadman Hole RA, there is whitewater in the nearby Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness a few miles to the north. There are no defined trails for hiking around the campground, but the access roads are a good substitute if you want a quiet stroll through the countryside.
Those in need of some pampering during their outback RV camping experience in Idaho won't want to miss visiting the hot springs in Challis. History addicts will be thrilled by the chance to explore Custer Mining Town, the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge or the Land of Yankee Fork State Park. They're all fascinating historic sites close to Deadman Hole that will make your RV camping stay there even more fun than you expected.
The Deadman Hole Recreation Site is an easy to reach BLM property. The State Highway 75 runs right past the campground and can be accessed directly from the highway. The recreation area is about twelve miles south of Challis which is the nearest urbanization to the north, or ten miles north of Clayton in the south. The section of the State Highway 75 leading to the site is relatively easy driving but does have a few bends that might be tricky in a lengthy rig. The roadway around the campground is gravel-surfaced and has a well-signposted one-way system in place.
RV campers motoring down from the north after spending a few days in the Lolo National Forest in Montana can join the US 93 northbound in Missoula. That will take them to Challis where they can hit the State Highway 75. If you've been RV camping in the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, you'll be able to join the State Highway 75 northbound in Stanton Crossing. From there expect to be on the road for another two and a half hours. It's a scenic run right through the heart of the Sawtooth National Forest.
If you arrived at the Deadman Hole Recreation Site and found all the campsites taken, head three miles north back along State Highway 75 and you'll come across the Bayhorse Recreation Site. The site is another BLM managed campground on the banks of the Salmon River. The site takes its name from the ghost town of Bayhorse, an old mining community, that is a few miles to the west.
The Bayhorse Recreation Site has a total of eleven campsites suitable for RVs. It is in many aspects very similar to the campground at the Deadman Hole Recreation Site. One of the few differences is the Bayhorse campground is surrounded by trees that provide some degree of shade. The campground also has a scenic backdrop of hills and mountains.
The pitches are distributed around a central island with a one-way road system. Each one is furnished with a picnic table, grill and fire ring. There are no utility hook-ups at any of the campsites. There is a seasonal water supply on-site as well as a block of vault toilets plus a boat ramp. The campground is hosted during the busy season and operates on a first-come-first-served basis all year.
The majority of RV campers at the Deadman Hole Recreation Site are there for the fishing. The Salmon River has an excellent trout population. The most hooked varieties include steelhead and brown. There are also small and largemouth bass present in the waters. While no catch can ever be guaranteed, the river is regularly restocked with thousands of chinook and coho salmon.
Average size salmon catches can be anywhere in the region of fifteen to twenty-five pounders. That's a fair few fillets to grill up when you get back to your RV.
The low hills surrounding the Deadman Hole Recreation Site are the natural habitat of mule deer and elk. However, the lack of tall ground coverage means hunters are easily spotted by the game they're stalking, which makes actually bagging something more difficult than you'd expect.
All hunters should be in possession of a current Idaho license and be aware of the restrictions and seasons put in place by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
The Deadman Hole Recreation Site is the ideal spot for launching a kayak or canoe onto the Salmon River. Once on the water you can choose whether to head up or downstream. The section of the river near the campground is reasonably wide and slow running, so not too complicated to paddle even for a novice.
The scenery is what will make the paddle special. It's stunning from on the river bank but even more spectacular from on the water.
The Custer Mining Town is a well-maintained ghost town near Stanley and accessible off the State Highway 75 along a signposted forest road. There's a lot to see in the old gold mining town and a good way to explore it is by following the interpretive signage which will tell you the historic function of the buildings.
There are also gold panning sessions, a museum, and a gift shop. The town is open all year to the public but the forest road can sometimes be blocked with snow during hard winters.
If you're in need of some rejuvenation after trekking over the foothills and dirt roadways around the Deadman Hole Recreation Site, head over to the Challis Hot Springs.
Grab a day pass and then take a soothing dip in the warm, mineral-rich waters of the pools. You'll be totally re-invigorated after a spell in the bubbling waters that are filtered through a colored gravel base. The hot springs are open all year but do operate on seasonal hours so check they're open before you go.
Once upon a time, there was gold in those hills. If there still is, well, no one knows. You can discover how they used to go about getting the gold out of the mountainsides by visiting the Yankee Fork Gold Dredge near Stanley.
The historic site contains the dredge, a hulking mountain of machinery, and some original buildings. Tours are given by descendants of original dredge workers daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day from ten in the morning until four in the afternoon.