Boise National Forest Camping
View of wooded ridges and pine trees
 




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The Boise National Forest is a whopping 2,654,000 acres of high, rocky ridges and woodland consisting of whitebark pine, western larch, subalpine fir, lodgepole, Engelmann spruce, and the ever-present ponderosa pine. Elevations range from 2,600 feet to 9,800 feet. It's quite rare for a Rocky Mountain National Forest to dip into 3,000 feet elevation, let alone sub-3000.

Legendary wilderness areas comprise the Boise National Forest as well, from the Sawtooth Wilderness to the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness. If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path national forest without the crowds, it is very easy to pick the Boise. Those who like their mountains rugged, yet forest-covered with numerous rivers will find much to like here.

I was pleased to have numerous campgrounds to myself, even in the peak of summer. It seems most headed for the Sawtooth Recreation Area, leaving the rest of the national forest empty and...wonderful.

For now, Parkcamper is covering these campgrounds in Boise National Forest: Bad Bear Campground, Edna Creek Campround, Hayfork Campground, Kirkham Campground, Mountain View Campground, Ten Mile Campground, and Whoop-Um-Up Campground Scroll down for pertinent campground facts and photos.




Bad Bear Campground

Brown and yellow Bad Bear campground sign


Bad Bear Campground, Boise National Forest

If you like your campgrounds small and heavily wooded with ponderosa pine, Bad Bear might just be what you are looking for. The national forest claims that wildflowers and wildlife are abundant, but we didn't see too much wildlife in the thick forest. Perhaps this was due to the close proximity with highway 21.

Campers can expect six sites with very good privacy, grills, fire ring, picnic tables, and a vault restroom.

gravel campsite with picnic table and pine forest



Bad Bear Campground is all about the ponderosa pines and the thick, green vegetation and wildflowers. This is a peaceful location with a whopping six sites, but the peace can be shattered due to the close proximity to Highway 21. If you can handle the occasional road noise from big rigs, you should do just fine here. It's a good campground if you don't want to be bothered by other campers as the site privacy is quite good. I found the forest subtle and charming, and prettier than any forest east of the Mississippi.


water pump amidst thick vegetation and pine forest

A pretty ponderosa pine forest in Bad Bear Campground.

 

Bad Bear campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May to Snow
Sites: 26 plus 1 double site
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No ( 11 miles to Stevensville)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 per vehicle
Vehicle length limit: 31 foot RV or 27 foot trailer
Handicapped Accessible: Yes (toilet and sites, nice and wide.)
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 5100 feet
Fishing: Yes (Mores Creek, whitefish and rainbow trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (11 miles south to Idaho City)
Repairs: No (11 miles south to Idaho City)
Reservations: 1-877-444-6777

Bad Bear Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 8
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 9

Parkcamper Rating: 7.66/10




Edna Creek Campground

Paved drive and brown and yellow Edna Creek Campround sign with blue sky
A second growth forest at Edna Creek Campground.

Edna Creek Campground is very similar to Bad Bear in that they are both relatively small campgrounds along Highway 21, also known as the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. You'll find pretty forest (although the forest here appears younger than Bad Bear campground's). Bears do frequent the area, and approved storage containers are available for your use.

Those interested in fishing will enjoy the Crooked River, which runs near the campground, offering fishing for a variety of trout species.

Those happy in wooded, mountainous country will really enjoy the Edna Creek Area. While not blessed with numerous snowcapped peaks, you will find scenic, rolling ridges with thick forest and sparkling rivers. And most certainly you'll find less crowds than a national park, or even a state park. If this area was anywhere east of the Mississippi, it would be a national park. Instead, it;s just one of many national forests along the great Rocky Mountains.

 

pop-up trailer, dirt rive, and camping site with woods

Campers can expect water, picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilets, spacious sites and a wilderness setting.

 

thick, second growth forest and brush with bumper logs

Edna Creek campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 9
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (11 miles south to Idaho City)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 5700 feet
Fishing: Yes (Crooked River, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (11 miles south to Idaho City)
Repairs: No(11 miles south to Idaho City)
Reservations: Not available (208)392-6681

Edna Creek Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 8
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 9

Parkcamper Rating: 7.66/10

 

Hayfork Campground



Brown and Yellow Hayfork campground sign in front of greenbushes


Hayfork Campground is yet another of the pretty campgrounds along Highway 21 (The Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway), except Hayfork throws a couple wrinkles your way. First, there are some enormous ponderosa pine in and around the campground. Second, there are also more open areas. I enjoyed the little foot bridge over Mores Creek, and was able to see a few trout finning in the clear waters below.

Like the other campgrounds in the area, you will hear road noise along Highway 21...one of the curses of easy access. The worst offenders are the industrial trucks. The problem lessens at night, but then those on the outer loop may not care for headlights. Again, one of the flaws of any campground next to a route. Luckily, this is Idaho, not Chicago.



two huge ponderosa pines grow out of thick bushes, in front of campground bathroom



So which of these campgrounds does a traveler pick? That's up to you. They all offer a slight variation on a theme.



Picnic table and fure ring bordering ponderosa pine

Hayfork campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 7 + 1 reservable group site
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (12 miles south to Idaho City)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night for one car, $30 for two, or what they call a "double". $100 for the reservable group campsite, which is bizarre.
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 5100 feet
Fishing: Yes (Mores Creek, rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (12 miles south to Idaho City)
Repairs: No(12 miles south to Idaho City)
Reservations: One very overpriced group campsite 1-877-444-6777

Hayfork Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 8
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 7

Parkcamper Rating: 7.33/10

 

Kirkham Campground

Brownand yellow Kirkham campground sign with cars and dry brown hill in background

This website has always gone by the notion that all national forests and all national parks are good. This is true. Unfortunately, not all campgrounds are amazing, and Kirkham is an example. While not "ugly" it is homely. Even the name is homely. Kirkham? Kirk's Ham? Who named this? But, it's not the landscape's fault. This area was burned in the Lowman Fire, an unfortunate lighting strike on July 29, 1989.

The campground has little shade, and gets hot...so hot some of the picnic tables have covers. The main draw to Kirkham campground are the hot springs, making this the busiest campground on the Highway 21 - Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway campground complex. You can often spot visitors scrambling down the springs. There's even a steaming waterfall. You can see how this would attract visitors. Another attraction is the beautiful South Fork of the Payette, which runs blue and clean through the campground.

Hikers and bikers will find the interesting, 35 mile Kirkham Ridge Trail, which takes you into some very nice country. You can download the basic map here.

Overall, Kirkham is a mixed bag. The hot springs are cool, the river and trees are pretty, but the campground itself feels like an afterthought. If you're okay with highway noise, crowds, and hot spring groupies, you'll do just fine here. It it interesting, and perhaps it's telling that I spent more time writing about this campground than the others.

Thin forest and campground bathroom

dried grass and exposed campsite

 

Kirkham campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 16
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (4.5 miles east to Lowman)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night, $30 for "double", $5 to park your car for five minutes
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 4000 feet
Fishing: Yes (South Fork Payette River, rainbow trout )
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (4.5 miles east to Lowman)
Repairs: No(4.5 miles east to Lowman)
Reservations:

Kirkham Campground Review:

Location: 7
Scenery: 7
In-campground aesthetics: 2
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 3

Parkcamper Rating: 5.33/10

 

Mountain View Campground

Brown and yellow mountain view campground sigh in luxurious forest

First things first: This is not the Mountain View Campground in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area. You'd think the Forest Service could be a bit more creative in their campground names. That said, the South Fork of the Payette does originate on the western slope of the Sawtooth Mountains, and as it flows past this Mountain View Campground, it looks absolutely inviting.

Because of the scenery, Mountain View is one of the busier campgrounds along Highway 21 and the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. It is often full on summer weekends, so get there early if you want a site. Mountain View is also convenient to the tiny town of Lowman, and the Kirkham Hot Springs, adding to the increased traffic.

Like the other campgrounds on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, you can expect road noise and headlight pollution on sites closest to Highway 21.

Of all the campgrounds on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, I liked the scenery at Mountain View the best. I thought it offered a nice combination of river, pine forest, wildlife, and wildflowers.

If your family is interested in whitewater rafting or kayaking, the South Fork of the Payette is wonderful. Float trips are available through numerous area guides.

You can expect picnic tables, fire rings, drinking water (pump), grills, and paved drives.

Two folding camp chairs next to pines and trout stream

Mountain View campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 14
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (10.6 miles west to Lowman)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night, $5 just to park your car
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 3836 feet
Fishing: Yes (South Fork Payette River, rainbow,k trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (0.6 miles west to Lowman)
Repairs: No(0.6 miles west to Lowman)
Reservations: 1-877-444-6777

Mountain View Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 9
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 7

Parkcamper Rating: 7.5/10

 

Ten Mile Campground

yellow and brown ten mil campground sign in shady forest

Ten Mile Campground is rather similar to the other campgrounds along Highway 21 and the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway. There are two main sections, one on either side of the road. So expect road noise. You can also expect a serene forest, with wildflowers and that pine fragrance we all love.

Those interested in a less busy campground along this route will welcome Ten Mile. Also of interest are the site with a bit more privacy and shade. I also found several of the creeks in the area to be rather nice, and adding to the tranquil atmosphere.

Campers can expect vault toilets, water (pump), picnic tables, fire rings, and grills.

paved entrance to ten mile campground

paved road winding through lush forest at ten mile campground

Ten Mile campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 14
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (8 miles miles south to Idaho City)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night
Vehicle length limit: 38 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes (vault)| Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 5000 feet
Fishing: Yes (Mores Creek, rainbow trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (8 miles south to Idaho City)
Repairs: No(8 miles south to Idaho City)
Reservations: Not available

Ten Mile Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 8
Unnatural Noise: 5
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 9

Parkcamper Rating: 7.66/10

 

Whoop-Um-Up Equestrian Campground

Brown and yellow Whoop-Um-Up campround sign with blue sky and forest

Earlier on this page I'd made a comment about campground naming creativity. You have to love this name!

Whoop-Um-Up is an equestrian campground 55 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho. Whoop-Um-Up is not too far from Edna Creek Campground, but seems more quiet than the rest of the Highway 21/Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway campground complex.

I found the forest quite pretty, and there's a bit more open country here, with some nice views. Banner Ridge is not far from the campground, and offers a panoramic view of the Boise National Forest country. Even cooler, Whoop-Um-Up campground serves as the trailhead for Whoop-Um-Up trail. Like the rest of the campgrounds in this stretch you'll find pleasant woodland, rolling ridges

Campers at Whoop-Um-Up can expect feed boxes, water for stock, hitching posts, picnic tables, vault toilets, fire rings, gravel drives, and grills. There is no drinking water for people here.

sunny campsite with picnic table and grill

 

Gravel parking lot with information sign bordering thick forest

Whoop-Um-Up campground facts:

Video Tour available: No
Open: May through September
Sites: 6 for people, 6 for horses
Laundry: No
Showers: No
Dump Station: No
Store: No (17 miles south to Idaho City)
Quiet Hours: 10 pm to 6 am
Fee: $15 a night
Vehicle length limit: up to 45 feet
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
Toilets: Yes | Tables: Yes | Fire rings: Yes
Water: Yes
Elevation: 5500 feet
Fishing: Yes (Crooked River, rainbow trout)
Generator: Yes (8 am to 8 pm reasonable usage)
Gas: No (17 miles south to Idaho City)
Repairs: No(17 miles south to Idaho City)
Reservations: 1-877-444-6777

Whoop-Um-Up Campground Review:

Location: 8
Scenery: 8
In-campground aesthetics: 8
Unnatural Noise: 6
Cleanliness: 8
Site Privacy: 9

Parkcamper Rating: 7.83/10

 

 

 

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