McClendon Spring Campground
Guide

Introduction

Close to the historic California Trail, this area was a favorite resting place for emigrants on their journey. Follow in the footsteps of those who traveled to the goldfields and take a break at the McClendon Spring Campground in Idaho.

Located approximately five miles from Malta in a north-west direction, this is a free campsite which is managed by the US Bureau of Land Management. At an elevation of 5449 ft., it is a primitive campground with only the most basic of amenities, including vault toilets and no running water. However, with phenomenal views of the mountains providing the perfect backdrop, the site is situated in a picturesque location that oozes quintessential Idaho charm. It provides a great starting point for a whole host of outdoor adventures, with hiking, cycling, horseback riding, fishing and hunting popular in the area. Explore the Cotterel Mountains to truly appreciate the unique beauty that this part of the country has to offer.

If you are looking to visit the Upper Snake River District, this Campground is open from Jun-October and it works on a first-come, first-served basis. Read on for more information about the surrounding area and the wealth of outdoor recreational activities that are possible during a stay at McClendon.

RV Rentals in McClendon Spring Campground

Transportation

Driving

The McClendon Springs Campground is located in the Upper Snake River District in Idaho Falls, close to the California Trail. From the town of Malta, head three miles north on Interstate Highway 81, then 2.5 miles west before turning south onto Conner Creek Road. It can be difficult to spot the entrance to the campsite from the road, and so it is recommended that you use your GPS for guidance. The turning is also quite tight, which can be a challenge if you are driving a larger vehicle.

The dirt road which leads up to the campground is fairly bumpy and it is advised that you keep your eyes open for potholes. Furthermore, watch out for the first cattle guard at the entrance to the campground. This may be something that you need to be aware of, particularly if your vehicle sits lower than average.

Parking

You can park your vehicle at the campsite itself. Alternatively, there are parking areas close to nearby attractions.

Public Transportation

This BLM-campground is situated in a remote location, and as a result, there is no public transport currently servicing the area.

Campgrounds and parking in McClendon Spring Campground

Campsites in McClendon Spring Campground

Reservations camping

Craters of the Moon/ Arco KOA

If you would like a camping experience like no other, the Craters of the Moon/ Arco KOA have everything that you need for a home away from home experience. Hook-ups are available, with a 50 max amp, as well as bike rentals, a swimming pool, a children’s play area and a dog park. Providing the opportunity to camp in an out-of-this-world location, there are plenty of trees to provide shade and events are planned throughout the year. You will need to reserve your spot, and each site has a 75’ maximum length.

First-come first-served

McClendon Spring Campground

The McClendon Spring Campground is a free campsite that is maintained by the US Bureau of Land Management. Offering just the basics, there are five campsites at this location. It should be noted that there are no pets allowed here and there is no running water. Instead, there are just a couple of vault toilets for your convenience.

Set amongst picturesque scenery, the small bubbling creek adds a nice touch and the woodland area is ideal for exploring and collecting firewood for your cozy campfire.

Wilson Lake Reservoir

The beauty of this expanse of water could make it an ideal location for your camping holiday, especially if you enjoy fishing; this is a record-breaking spot, with anglers from all over the country visiting the Wilson Lake Reservoir. There are 40 campsites situated throughout the area, ensuring that each spot is remote and secluded. This is backcountry camping at its finest, with the opportunity to camp right next to one of the most beautiful lakes in the States.

Seasonal activities in McClendon Spring Campground

Summer

Hiking

Explore the mountains and enjoy peaceful hikes near the McClendon Spring Campground. The nearby South Fork Loop trail is suitable for beginners, whereas other trails in the area of more moderate to difficult.

The nearby City of Rocks National Reserve is an ideal hiking location. You can choose from over 22 miles of trail networks, with an excellent variety to suit all levels and abilities. If you are planning on hiking in the area you would be better visiting in the summer, as the conditions can be dangerous in the colder months.

Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing is popular at City of Rocks National Preserve, which is approximately 28.5 miles from the ground. Located in Almo, close to the Utah border, the preserve features a diverse range of granite formations. Attracting rock climbers from around the world, this is not a suitable location for a beginner and caution is always advised.

Alternatively, Castle Rocks is about two miles from here. This offers some classic climbs and quality bouldering for a small day-use fee.

Visit the Craters of the Moon

One of the four national parks in the State, a visit to the Craters of the Moon is a must. Just north of the McClendon Campground, the Craters of the Moon National and Research Monument and Preserve is well-known for the unique landscape that was formed after an ocean of lava covered it years ago. The other-worldly scenery adds an ethereal touch to your typical outdoor activities!

Check out the Visitor Center to find out more about the volcano as well as the space research which is conducted here by NASA.

Off-Season

Fishing

You are sure to land a big one near McClendon! The river is teeming with fish, including brown trout, chinook and kokanee salmon, smallmouth bass, and walleye. Moreover, this is also a popular site for ice fishing in January and February.

Approximately an hour away from the McClendon Spring Campground is the Wilson Lake Reservoir. This is an almost 600-acre fishing spot where a record-breaking perch was caught back in 1976.

Horseback riding

If you are planning to hitch a ride with your four-legged friend, there is a choice of equestrian trails to choose from in the area, particularly within the City of Rocks National Reserve and the Castle Rocks State Park. Saddle up for your adventure into the vast wilderness and experience the majestic scenery from horseback. There is also a wide variety of ranches and stables nearby that offer organized horseback riding trips.

Hunting

Hunting is a popular pastime in the area, which many visiting for the chance to hunt for upland birds and antelope. South Idaho is particularly well known for its chukar and gray partridge hunting, but there is also elk hunting, mule and white-tailed deer, and even the occasional moose.

As always, it is essential you check the relevant laws and regulations in the state. Contact the park office for more information regarding the designated hunting areas.

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