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Initially thought to have harbored Native Americans for just a few hundred years, archaeologists have discovered spear points, pottery shards, and other artifacts that indicate that humans have, in fact, dwelled in Sawtooth National Forest for at least 12,000 years. European trappers and explorers arrived in the area in the early 19th century to map the region. Their efforts helped guide the pioneers west in the mid-1800s during the gold rush. Sawtooth National Forest was originally established as Sawtooth Forest Reserve in 1905, and its status was upgraded to Sawtooth National Forest in 1972, granting it some additional protection from mining and lumber companies. This Idaho state park gets an astounding million visitors annually.
Though there are a handful of mountain towns, the closest town with a hospital with an emergency clinic is Ketchum, ID. The city is about five miles south of the southern entrance to Sawtooth National Forest. The town also has a golf course, a good variety in dining and shopping options, and a small regional airport.
Encompassing well over 2.1 million acres of wilderness, the opportunities for recreational fun in Sawtooth National Forest are endless. Sawtooth National Forest boasts a variety of terrains ranging from steppe prairie to forests to alpine tundras. Over a thousand miles of multi-use trails and forest roads wind and weave through the forests, some following the contours of rivers and valleys, others ascending to reach summits of mighty peaks contained within the park. Hike, horseback ride, or mountain bike. There are also two National Recreation Trails that meanders for hundreds of miles. Many hikers use these two trails as training grounds for more challenging hikes in the backcountry or for tackling a monumental trail like the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, both of which stretch well over 2,000 miles.
Around 500 miles of trails are set aside for ATVs and OHVs, too. Though they’re not suitable for rental Airstream and other similar vehicles, there are several campgrounds near the trailheads at which one may unhitch a trailer vehicle.
The fun doesn’t stop there. An estimated 7,500 miles of streams and rivers cut through Sawtooth National Forest, allowing for a variety of water fun. Anglers can expect to catch, depending on their location, bull trout, sockeye, and chinook salmon, brook trout (invasive species; fishing this is highly recommended), rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish. In late spring and early summer, whitewater rafting is a fun, bouncing, high-octane activity. Upper Salmon River historically can achieve Class IV in years with moderate to deep snowfall.
When winter rolls around, the fun doesn’t stop either. There are four downhill ski areas, all with a good variety of slopes suited to beginners and experts alike. The park also keeps around 50 miles of trails groomed for snowmobiles and over 80 miles for cross-country skiing. Snowshoers are encouraged to stick to established snowshoe loop trails (in the event of emergencies), but it’s not mandatory.
RV camp in Sawtooth National Forest, surrounded by pristine, untouched wilderness. Listen to the babbling creek as it gurgles and murmurs along its unceasing journey. Birds will alert everyone within earshot that the sun has risen once again - such a miracle! Sawtooth National Park has 81 campgrounds, and several are developed, offering running water and hookups. Most are operated on a first-come, first-serve basis, but a handful can be reserved in advance. Thompson Flat Campground, which can be reserved, has 25 sites, and there are water faucets available. It also has a horse corral and is close to the Skyline Trail. One catch, though: this campground is open only between May and October.
Alternatively, campers could also camp at RV camp at Diamondfield Jack Campground. One of the more developed campgrounds, Diamondfield Jack Campground, has wheelchair-accessible restrooms, warming shelters, and fire rings at each site.
Mill Flat Campground is in one of the more unusual locations; it is found inside a canyon. Though there are no hookups and running water, it has a small restroom and is very close to a stream known to have excellent trout fishing. It’s also close to several trailheads and an ATV trail.
Renting a camper not only allows for easy access to 2.1 million acres of nature but also various small towns scattered across Midstate Idaho. There are four scenic byways that wind through Sawtooth National Forest. The longest, which strings over 130 miles, is Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway; it connects Stanley, ID, to Boise, ID, and passes through several mountain towns.
Sun Valley, ID, is unique in that it originally sprang up to support the local ski resorts and has since then grown into a thriving, bustling town. It boasts several charming boutique shops and cafes at which one might find the perfect RV camping souvenir to take home.
A former mining and ranch town, Hailey, ID, has evolved into a proper town. Among its many attractions, it boasts a Blaine County Historical Museum, which houses not only artifacts and memorabilia honoring its heritage but also a pristine 1929 Model A Ford Roadster and displays spotlighting famed poet Ezra Pound.
Book an RV in Custer County, ID, and start your perfect RV camping adventure in Sawtooth National Forest today.