Three Island Crossing State Park
In Glenns Ferry, halfway between Boise and Twin Falls, Three Island Crossing is where the Oregon Trail crosses the Snake River. The state park blends cultural history with a beautiful landscape to provide several ways to engage with the environment.
The crossing of the Snake River presented a tumultuous moment on the Oregon Trail. The park does a brilliant job painting the picture of the river crossings that occurred in the 1840s. The on-site Oregon Trail History and Education Center provides detailed exhibits. Other interpretive landmarks in the park include historic wagon ruts and replica Conestoga wagons.
The beautiful Snake River landscape also attracts visitors to Three Island Crossing. Popular activities at the state park include hiking, mountain biking, nature photography, and disc golf. The park also features a campground with eight cabins and over 80 campsites that cater to RVs.
Address: 1083 S Three Island Park Drive, Glenns Ferry, Idaho
Minidoka National Historic Site
Located not far to the northeast of Twin Falls and Shoshone Falls Park is another of the states important sites which this time tells a sadder story. Set in a serene yet secluded spot on the banks of Clover Creek is the moving Minidoka National Historic Site, which commemorates the more than 9,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned here during WWII.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, existing hostility to those of Japanese ancestry only increased, with President Roosevelt ordering all Japanese Americans to be interned. The Minidoka War Relocation Center was just one of ten camps used between 1942 and 1945, with barracks and guard towers erected to house the unfortunate inmates.
Visitors can learn about all this dark part of Americas past through its interesting exhibits and by wandering along the historic trail that passes the prison blocks, baseball field and watch tower.
Lake Cascade State Park Cascade
Watersport adventures abound at Lake Cascade State Park. Windsurfers, anglers, hikers, mountain bikers, and families will love this lakefront park that offers 279 campsites, six boat ramps, a handful of day-use areas, and two dispersed camping areas.
The parks ten developed campgrounds offer a unique range of amenities, from full-hookup sites to dry camping. Some of the parks campgrounds are open year-round, while the rest are available in the summer only.
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City Of Rocks National Reserve
A hot spot for outdoor enthusiasts, City of Rocks has attracted visitors to Southern Idaho for centuries. Indigenous populations were the first to travel through this corridor of massive rock monoliths. Later, mass emigrants on the California Trail looked towards these eye-catching boulders as a waypoint on their journey.
Today, visitors to City of Rocks enjoy the scenic environment through a variety of activities. Hiking through the beautiful landscape and climbing the 60-foot stones throughout are the two biggest reasons to visit this national park unit. Over 22 miles of hiking trails lead to features like windows, arches, and viewpoints. The 600-plus rock-climbing routes at the park include sport and traditional.
City of Rocks features over 60 campsites spread throughout the park. Advanced reservations at the campgrounds are almost required on summer weekends. The national reserve also has a designated backcountry camping area where visitors can pitch a tent. The neighboring Castle Rock State Park features the Smoky Mountain Campground with an additional 38 sites available.
Massacre Rocks State Park American Falls
Rest your head along the Oregon Trail with a stay at Massacre Rocks State Park. This park is beautifully situated on the Snake River banks, and campers can enjoy on-site bird watching, rock climbing, hiking, and a challenging disc golf course.
Camping at Massacre Rocks is open year-round, with first-come-first-served campsites in the off-season, and reservations available in the summer.
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Lake Cascade State Park
With 86 miles of shoreline, Lake Cascade in central Idaho attracts water enthusiasts from across the state. The state park surrounding this massive body of water enables all sorts of recreation and camping opportunities. The state park has several different units along the shoreline, including a dozen campgrounds.
The North Fork Mountains backdrop the entire lake. Popular activities on the water include boating, and fishing for rainbow trout, coho salmon, and smallmouth bass. Windsurfing and sailing are also popular on the water thanks to consistent afternoon gusts. The state park has six boat ramps spread across the lake, as well as several swimming beaches.
Inland activities at the state park include hiking, bird-watching, and picnicking on the shores. In the winter, activities like cross-country skiing and ice fishing are also abundant.
Campgrounds are on the southeast and northwest shores of the lake. Campgrounds on the northern side are near the entrance of Tamarack Resort. This four-season mountain resort features an abundance of mountain biking trails. Many of the campgrounds at Lake Cascade accept early reservations.
Address: 100 Kelly’s Parkway, Cascade, Idaho
Lucky Peak State Park
Lucky Peak State Park is a 30-minute bike ride from Boise on the scenic Boise River Greenbelt Trail. This proximity to the city makes Lucky Peak State Park the perfect place to get away and enjoy natural surroundings.
The state park comprises three different units along the Lucky Peak Reservoir. Closest to Boise, the Discovery Park and Sandy Point Units offer beautiful open space to picnic, sunbathe, and enjoy the water. The large swimming area at Sandy Point is particularly popular during the summer. The park offers paddleboard rentals by the hour. Sandy Point also features a disc golf course during the spring and fall.
Farther north along the reservoir, the Spring Shores Unit offers the best place for motorboats to get on the water. Featuring a full-service marina and two large boat ramps, Spring Shores also has several boat rental options.
Near Spring Shores, the adjacent Macks Creek Park is one of the best campgrounds near Boise.
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Bruneau Dunes State Park Bruneau
Bruneau Dunes State Park has the tallest single-structured dune in North America. At 470 feet tall, the dune towers over the surrounding landscape, including the well-kept campsites at the Bruneau Dunes State Park campground.
Hiking opportunities abound, and sandboards are available for rent at the Visitor Center. The campground at Bruneau Dunes is open year-round and is particularly lovely in spring and fall.
Idaho State Parks Double Non
Pictured: Henrys Lake State Park
Idaho State Parks recently announced all camping and entry fees for non-residents will double at select state parks starting June 10th, 2021.
The daily, non-resident entry fee at Bear Lake, Farragut, Hells Gate, Priest Lake, and Round Lake will be $14, while at other State Parks, Idaho residents and out-of-state guests will continue to pay the same $7 entry fee.
Camping fees at Farragut, Henrys Lake, Ponderosa, Priest Lake, and Round Lake will also double. An electric-only will cost $60 a night, and full hookups will cost $64 for non-residents.
Residents will continue to pay the $24 and $32 fee which was previously available for all.
In 2020, the reservation window at Henrys Lake, a popular campground outside of Yellowstone National Park, ran through Labor Day. This year the reservation window runs through early October with the park switching to first-come-first-served after.
The changes will keep Idaho competitive with surrounding states, which have similar surcharges for out-of-state guests, says Susan Buxton, director of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. Even with these increases, our parks are a good value given the exceptional recreational opportunities at our parks.
What are your thoughts on resident vs. non-resident camping fees? Let us know in the comments below.
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Winchester Lake State Park Winchester
Like fishing? Winchester Lake State Park is just for you. Cast a line across the water for stocked rainbow trout or wild catfish and Tiger Muskie. Other activities at the park include biking, bird watching, hiking, paddling, and swimming.
Winchester Lake State Park offers camping for RVers with partial hookups, tents, and has a yurt available for nightly rental.
Hells Gate State Park Lewiston
Experience the Snake Rivers wild beauty as it passes through Hells Canyon at Hells Gate State Park, just outside of Lewiston. Hells Gate is a jumping-off point for jetboat tours that travel up the canyon, which is the deepest in the United States at 7,900 feet from the water to the clifftops.
The park features three loops of campsites, all right along the riverbank. Two loops accommodate RVs with electric hookups, while the third is tent-only.
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Dworshak State Park Lenore
Dworshak Reservoirs western shore is home to Dworshak State Park, an 850-acre park with forests, meadows, and plenty of waterfront for fishing, boating, and swimming. The park also has hiking trails, a disc golf course, and a ¾ mile archery course and archery range.
Freeman Creek Campground has standard and serviced campsites and cabins, while Three Meadows Group Camp is ideal for family and corporate events.
From Castle Rocks in the far south to Priest Lake on the border with Canada, camping adventures await at Idahos state parks this summer. Well see you there!
Feature image credited to Idaho Tourism.
Sara Sheehy is a writer and photographer who travels the world seeking wild places and great stories. When shes not on the road, Sara spends her time exploring the mountains around her home base of Sun Valley, Idaho.
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Home to the tallest freestanding sand dune in North America, Bruneau Dunes is an outstanding natural feature in Idaho. The sheer size of the 470-plus-foot dune at Bruneau quickly catches the eye upon entering the park. This shifting mountain of sand offers one of the best hiking trails near Boise and is the center of many fun things to do at this popular state park.
Intrepid explorers can climb and traverse these tall sand dunes at Bruneau. Hikers should avoid hiking midday during the summer, however, as the sand can reach unbearable temperatures. Smaller sand dunes are also abundant in the area and especially popular with kids to climb and sled down. Sandboards are available to rent at the Visitor Center.
The Bruneau Dunes Observatory highlights the incredibly dark sky that descends upon the state park at night. The observatory is open to the public on Friday and Saturday nights between March and November.
Bruneau Dunes has several camping opportunities available. Eagle Cove and Broken Wheel Campgrounds at the park feature tent camping and RV spots with water and electricity. Bruneau Dunes also has an equestrian campground.
Address: 27608 Bruneau Sand Dunes Road, Bruneau, Idaho
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Sawtooth National Recreation Area
Jutting from the horizon between Stanley and Ketchum, the Sawtooth Mountains are the crown jewel of Idaho. Encompassing 756,000 acres of these jagged mountain peaks, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. The NRA includes three designated wilderness areas and 700 miles of trails that traverse from one postcard spot to another.
Sawtooth NRA highlights the Sawtooth Mountains and three other ranges, including the equally impressive White Cloud Mountains. Four major rivers also have headwaters in the NRA: the Salmon, the South Fork of the Payette, the Boise, and the Big Wood. Displaying prominent stature, the NRA also has over 40 mountain peaks rising over 10,000 feet.
Recreation options are endless in Sawtooth National Recreation Area. All four seasons of the year lend to different activities like boating, backpacking, and cross-country skiing.
Sawtooth National Recreation Area is home to some of the best hiking trails in Idaho, with iconic trails like Alice Lake and Sawtooth Lake offering unforgettable mountain landscapes. And with three scenic byways navigating the entire NRA, the drive through the Sawtooths is worth the trip alone.
Camping in the Sawtooths is both abundant and widespread. The U.S. Forest Service operates several designated campgrounds that cater to tents and RVs.
Why Youll Love Ske River Rv Park & Campground
Ske River provides all the amenities you need to stay comfortable and entertained- from a pool and hot tub to a kids playground, from fishing to basketball, theres something for everyone to enjoy. You can find lots of entertainment in the Idaho Falls area as well visit the Museum of Idaho to learn more about prehistoric worlds, space journeys, and the history of America, or head to the Tautphaus Park Zoo to spend quality time with the family as you admire over 300 animals from six different continents.
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Priest Lake State Park Coolin
Stunning Priest Lake State Park is about as far north as you can go in Idaho before crossing over the Canadian border. The shores of crystal-clear Priest Lake are shaded by dense forests of evergreens that are home to deer, moose, and black bears.
The park has multiple campgrounds along the lake, some of which feature partial hookups for RVs. No matter which one you stay in, youre sure to have a restful night tucked in the quiet woods.
Curious About Camping In Idahos State Parks Here Are Some Ideas To Get You Started
Sara Sheehy worked in partnership with Visit Idaho to create this Travel Tip.
From high-altitude lakes nestled in evergreen forests to historic crossings of the Oregon Trail, Idahos state parks offer a little something for every type of traveler. Whether youre looking for a spot to camp, fish, swim, hike, or simply relax in nature, you can find it here.
Seventeen of Idahos state parks have campgrounds or unique camping opportunities available for park visitors to enjoy. Heres a look at where you can camp this summer in our beautiful state park system.
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Bear Lake State Park St Charles
Bring your bathing suit, your beach chairs, your fishing rod, and your boat for a couple of nights of fun in the sun at Bear Lake State Park. Bear Lakes gorgeous turquoise waters are a favorite with families, as the gently sloped lake bottom allows for safe swimming along the shore.
The state park has campsites for groups as large as 50 people and plenty of standard-sized campsites for RVs and tents.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
Commemorating the history, culture, and stories of the Nez Perce people, this incredible National Historical Park lies nestled in the northwest of Idaho, not far from the border with Washington. Among its vast valleys, flower-filled meadows, and magnificent mountains are 38 important sites to explore, with 26 of them found in the Idaho part of the park.
Founded in 1965, the park is set on the traditional homelands of the Nez Perce and tells their story as they fought for their freedom and resisted being forced onto a reservation. Many of the sites lie on the route that Chief Joseph and his band took in 1877, fighting numerous battles and skirmishes against the US Army as they tried to reach Canada.
Visiting its picturesque prairies, battlefields, and campsites is now a poignant affair. You will learn all about their history, home and heritage. At the parks museum and visitor center, there are interesting exhibitions, artifacts, and archaeological findings on display documenting the story of the Nez Perce people.
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Day Two: Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
A little less than two hours from City of Rocks, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument lies along the meandering course of the Snake River, where some of America’s richest fossil deposits have been found. More than 200 species were discovered here, including Equus simplicidens, the earliest true horse ever discovered in North America.
As you spend some time viewing the fossil displays at the visitor center, try to imagine the landscape as it appeared during the Pliocene Epoch inhabited by saber-toothed cats, Mastondons, and prehistoric sloths. A variety of seasonal programs are also offered at the visitor center depending of the timing of your visit, and visitors are encouraged to try uncovering fossils for themselves in a simulated dig. You’ll find a variety of accommodation and dining options in the town of Hagerman, just a few miles away.
The Top Campgrounds In Idaho 2020
We turned to campers across the state to get the scoop on the very best campgrounds in Idaho in 2020. Whether youre ready to bundle up for winter camping or dreaming of where youll go once the temperatures warm up, this is your ultimate resource for the most loved campgrounds in Idaho this year.
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Three Island Crossing State Park Glenns Ferry
Three Island Crossing was once a major route across the Snake River for those on the Oregon Trail. Traveling along the Oregon Trail in the 1800s didnt have many creature comforts, but campers at Three Island Crossing State Park can relax in campsites with partial hookups, cabins for overnight rentals, and leafy trees to block the sun.
Learn more about the crossings history at the on-site interpretive center and on a self-guided tour of the park.
Trail Break Rv Park & Campground
This five star Camp Native RV Park in Glenns Ferry provides campers with a premier RV sites and tent sites for a low price. The serene, shaded environment allows guests to enjoy a relaxing stay in well-maintained grounds. Its a great choice for a home base for families and couples alike.
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