RV in Idaho

Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Re-Start Your Engines!

Mar 25, 2021 | Travel Itineraries

Why Idaho?

We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Idaho has one of the biggest and best selections of campgrounds and RV parks in the United States. Choose between hundreds of sites, many of them far from crowds and close to the wild. Just pick the scenery that’s right for you: deep lakes, rugged mountains, high deserts, or stunning forests. No matter where you go, you’ll find unbeatable access to activities like early spring skiing, late-spring and early summer rafting, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, fly fishing — even BASE jumping!

We’ve made it easy to select the perfect destination. Here are a few highlights from each region to spark inspiration for your next trip.

North Idaho

North Idaho

Did you know that the Center of the Universe is in North Idaho? The tiny, historic mining town of Wallace officially declared itself as such in 2004. The exact spot is marked by a decorated manhole cover. But Wallace is far more than a galactic landmark: You can also visit quirky museums like the Oasis Bordello Museum, rock out at the annual Historic Wallace Blues Festival, or tour the nearby Burke Ghost Town.

For one of the most scenic drives in Idaho, try the Coeur d’Alene Scenic Byway, a 35.8-mile two-lane road that hugs the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene and ends in the historic town of Harrison. There, you’ll see where the mouth of the Coeur d’Alene River flows into the stunning lake.

Adventure-seekers will thrill at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, which at nearly 3,000 acres is the largest in Idaho. From the top of your perch in the Selkirks you can look down on Lake Pend Oreille and take in sweeping views of the Bitterroot and Cabinet mountain ranges. Blessed with an average of 300 inches of snow a year, this family-friendly resort usually stays open until April.

North-Central Idaho

North-Central Idaho

The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway is a must-do for road travelers. This 202-mile byway is the longest in Idaho and hews to the same route used by explorers Lewis and Clark during their momentous exploratory trip. The byway is a great introduction to this wild part of Idaho, winding through canyons and wilderness.

If you follow the U.S. 12 branch of the byway, you’ll find yourself marveling at the Wild & Scenic Lochsa River, a never-dammed, free-flowing beauty that was designated a national treasure and given special protection by the government in 1968. Fly-fishing enthusiasts, take note: The pure waters of the Lochsa are renowned for their trout. Expect cutthroat, rainbow, bull, and steelhead, as well as mountain whitefish and Chinook salmon.

The Nimiipuu, or Nez Perce, are people whose ancient roots stretch back through time. The sprawling Nez Perce National Park includes 38 sites spread over four states. Traveling through the park requires pre-planning, but it’s worth it. Visit the Weippe Prairie in late spring and or early summer to see blue-purple camas flowers in bloom; the roots of these beautiful plants were collected by the Nimiipuu for food.

Central Idaho

Central Idaho

For nearly 100 years, the towns of Custer, Bayhorse, and Bonanza rode gold booms and busts. By the time the impressive Yankee Fork Dredge was built in the early 1940s, modern machinery had replaced the work of hundreds of hardscrabble miners. You can tour these towns and the dredge itself at Land of the Yankee Fork State Park, which encompasses a number of sites important to the Gem State’s mining history.

From the park, it’s only 22 miles into the tiny mountain town of Stanley and its famous views of the Sawtooth Mountains. Rafters, hikers, and nature lovers flock to town (population: 63) throughout the late spring and summer, when water is high and the snow has finally melted. Nearby Redfish Lake, a high mountain lake with a historic lodge, has been a favorite of Idahoans for generations.

Travel over the scenic Galena Pass from Stanley to Sun Valley/Ketchum, home to one of the nation’s most iconic ski resorts and the first place in the country to operate a ski lift. The area has been a favorite of celebrities since the 1930s — writer Ernest Hemingway, its most famous resident, is buried in the Ketchum cemetery — but the town of Ketchum is famously laid-back about its visitors and residents. The Sun Valley Resort is open year-round, with winter crowds giving way to hikers, cyclists, and fly-fishing enthusiasts in the spring and summer.

Eastern Idaho

Eastern Idaho

People from all around the country travel to Eastern Idaho’s Henry’s Lake State Park for some of the best fly fishing in the world. Henry’s Lake is famous for its trout, including brook, cut-throat, and hybrid trout — but campers will also love the quiet serenity of this high-mountain lake.

If you prefer to work for your fishing spot, consider biking the 29.6-mile Ashton to Tetonia Trail, a converted Union Pacific rail spur that links the two towns and offers exquisite scenery along the way. The trail is packed flat and easily cycled in one day, but no one would blame you for taking your time — hikers and horseback riders are welcome along this non-motorized route, too. (If you do cycle, be sure to use mountain biking tires that are at least 32 mm wide to prevent flats.)

From Tetonia, take a 10-minute drive to Driggs. This town may be little, but it boasts some of the most jaw-dropping views of the Teton Range — including the famous Les Trois Tetons, three skyscraping peaks that have graced many a postcard. Stop by Grand Teton Distillery for potato vodka, hit the links on one of the region’s golf courses, or take in the views by air: Driggs has several hot-air balloon and plane tourism businesses.

Southeastern Idaho

Lava Hot Springs is the name of both a charming Eastern Idaho town and a hot springs resort that has been attracting families and health-seekers for generations. RVers and campers will find plenty of places to stay here — anywhere you choose, therapeutic waters are just a few minutes away. The springs here were formed millions of years ago by volcanic activity and bubble out of the earth at pleasantly hot temperatures; each drop is packed with soothing minerals that are sought after by arthritis sufferers, stressed-out workers, or families looking for a day of fun.

From Lava, head south to Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge and prepare to get back to nature. This 18,000-acre spot is a haven for waterfowl and other animals, including sandhill cranes, moose, great horned owls, and much more. Prime viewing time is May and June, when new chicks hatch and other species frequent the area. Get up-close views on the refuge’s hiking trails and nature paths.

Loop back through Pocatello, head past American Falls, and you’ll arrive at Massacre Rocks State Park, one of the most beautiful spots along the Snake River. This park is about more than scenery, though: History buffs will find plenty to love here. The area’s signature boulders were deposited by the ancient Bonneville Flood. Thousands of years later, Massacre Rocks was a famous location on the Oregon Trail that was thought to be a prime spot for ambushes (hence the brutal name). You can see evidence of previous travelers on Register Rock, which bears the scars of Oregon Trail emigrants who carved their names as they were passing through. Massacre Rocks State Park also offers excellent hiking, rock climbing and nearby camping.

South-Central Idaho

South-Central Idaho

Twin Falls is bounded by the impressive Snake River Canyon, a huge gash in the earth that reveals the area’s volcanic history. The canyon might be one of nature’s most spectacular achievements in the area, but humans have made their contribution in the form of the I.B. Perrine Bridge. Named after a pioneering businessman, this 1,500-foot long perches 486 feet above the Snake River and is one of the only places in the country where it is perfectly legal to BASE jump. During the spring and summer, park at the nearby Twin Falls Visitors Center (which has one of the best views of the bridge and the canyon) and head to the bridge to cheer on the jumpers who parachute off.

For a meandering, relaxing journey — and more waterfalls than you’ve ever seen at one time — travel down the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway for a tour of geological wonders. You’ll see collections of melon boulders tossed there by ancient flooding, jagged canyon walls, and tumbling waterfalls that seem to gush out of nowhere. These waterfalls consist of pure spring water that bubbles out of the canyon at the perfect temperature for trout farming; in fact, much of the nation’s trout supply comes from fish farms in this area.

The same volcanic activity that created the area also created the perfect conditions for hot springs, and there are many here. Miracle and Banbury hot springs, located just a short drive from each other, offer private and public pools, massage, and RV and camping spots so you can turn your short soak into a relaxing weekend.

Southwestern Idaho

Southwestern Idaho

Boise may be the biggest town in Idaho, but it prides itself on its easy access to the outdoors. One of the best examples is the Boise Greenbelt, a paved trail that stretches for 25 miles along the Boise River. It’s a favorite of walkers, runners, and cyclists, and it’s both an escape from city living and a link to neighborhoods and parks throughout Boise, Garden City, and Eagle. Anglers will find plenty of company here, too, as great fly fishing is available just a few steps away from the Greenbelt.

In Idaho, the mountains are always just a drive away. From Boise, it’s only 45 minutes to Idaho City, a mountain town near the Boise National Forest that has been home to a hardy crew of homesteaders and fortune-seekers since the 1860s. This once-booming mining town still retains its history, including wooden sidewalks, a historic Masonic hall, shops and saloons, and the Pon Yam House, one of the few reminders of the city’s large Chinese population.

From Idaho City, it’s a scenic 2 hour and 45 minute drive to the charming mountain town of McCall and the shores of gorgeous Payette Lake. During the winter, this little town is known for its Winter Carnival and skiing at nearby Brundage Mountain Resort, but during the spring and summer it’s all about that lake life. Waterskiing, fishing, swimming, boating, and plenty of relaxing are the order of the day; hikers will love nearby Ponderosa State Park, which offers unbeatable lakeside trails and views. Or, head to nearby Tamarack Resort, where there are miles of mountain biking trails to challenge riders — as well as beautiful hikes and zip lining for those who would like to get an unbridled view of the surrounding mountains.

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During the pandemic, Idaho has been a favorite of travelers seeking scenery and plenty of camping and RV parking — and this spring and summer is expected to be a banner year! Campgrounds fill quickly, so plan ahead by using our Find a park and Free Camping Guide. With a little bit of preparation and our handy guides in hand, you’ll be ready for the months of sunny adventures that lie ahead.


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