Top Places to Go Camping in South-Central Idaho
If you are traveling through what we call South-Central Idaho and need a place to rest, or you are just looking to have a good time, then boy have we got a list for you! Today we are going to review the top 4 best places to go camping in South-Central Idaho.
What is South-Central Idaho?
South-Central Idaho consists of the following counties: Blaine, Camas, Cassia, Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln, Minidoka, and Twin Falls. To be simpler, it is the stretch of southern Idaho's Snake River Plain that is east of Mountain Home, West of Pocatello, and south of the Sawtooths. Not many people think about this part of the state as a great place to go camping, but there sure are some awesome camping spots to enjoy. But, we best be getting on to the list before we get ahead of ourselves. Here are the top 4 places to go camping in South-Central Idaho.
Baumgartner Campground is one of Idaho's undiscovered treasures when it comes to camping. Thanks to its almost central position in the state and its variety of activities, Baumgartner is the gold standard for most other camping spots in the state. It is located in Camas County about 2 hours from Mountain Home, Idaho.
It has a prime position on the banks of the South Fork of the Boise River between the steep mountains of the Sawtooth National Forest.
Types of Camping
At Baum there are many open camping spots and paid camping spots as well. These are optimal for tents and campers. There are no yurts or cabins anywhere in this area that we know of, so this campground is pretty limited when it comes to places to stay. However, It makes up for this with the sheer number of great activities there are in the surrounding area. Fasten your seatbelts, things are about to get pretty intense.
Baumgartner has so many things to do in and around the campground, it is almost impossible to list them all. For starters though, let's take a look at the awesome things you can do thanks to the river.
(NOTE: before you do any water activities, make sure that you know the area and the risks inherent in being there. If you do not know the part of the river you are planning to enjoy, be sure to find someone who does know, or learn about it before you go. Rivers can be dangerous, and the South Fork of the Boise River is no exception. So, be careful and smart about what you do and where).
The South Fork of the Boise River is a fantastic river if you really like to go rafting, kayaking, or canoeing. At and around Baumgartner you can find spots to do all of these things, however, the most popular thing to do, thanks to the convenience of it, is to float the portion of river that traverses the campground itself.
In the river, there are also many places where you can swim. Again, be careful with this as there are portions of the river that are more treacherous than others. Then again, if you don't feel like swimming, there is also the possibility of fishing. There are plenty of great fishing spots along the river, so be sure to get your rod and reel, as well as a fishing license, before you head out.
Then, of course, there are the other activities that people like to enjoy when staying at Baumgartner. There is a nice free hot spring in the campground that is great for some R&R, many trails for hiking, biking, dirt and cycle riding, and horseback riding as well. Not to mention there are some awesome wildlife that live in and around Baumgartner, so you will probably see some beautiful birds, hawks, squirrels and chipmunks, and maybe even some deer.
The area of Baumgartner is characterized by the beautiful scenery and sense of seclusion it provides. Since it is at least a half an hour drive in the mountains from Featherville, Idaho, which itself is pretty secluded, going to Baumgartner is like escaping to the mountains from the business of the world.
There isn't much by the way of amenities in Baumgartner. Aside from the vaulted toilets, you can't really find much else. If you need much more you will need to head into Featherville or even Pine, Idaho.
Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
Located in Blaine County is the well known and loved Craters of the Moon National Monument. This amazing piece of geological history is a massive field of lava rocks that stretches for miles and miles and is large enough that it is even visible from space.
Craters is a fantastic place to go if you love the beautiful scenery left by million year old volcanic activity or if you just want to visit somewhere interesting.
Types of Camping
For the most part, when camping in Craters of the Moon, you are encouraged to stick with tents, however their website does say that there is room for RVs and trailers, but only a few.
The Lava Flow Campground, their main camping area, has 42 sites (4 of which are considered fully accessible). Site 34, for the convenience of those with medical needs, does have electrical outlets.
There are tons of activities to do when you camp at Craters of the Moon. Not only are there interactive learning areas but there are a number of awesome hikes (some of which are fully accessible) and even some awesome lava caves (these caves can get so cold that they will still have ice and snow left over in the middle of the summer).
The vastness of the lava fields in Craters of the Moon gives the whole area a desolate and other worldly feeling that you wouldn't expect from a national monument in Idaho. However, there are some areas that have a few trees, like the campground, so it is not all volcanic.
There are several amenities that you can count on when you go to camp in Craters of the Moon. Aside from the electrical outlets at site 34, there is also water during the summer months, bathrooms, grills (charcoal only), and so on. If you need much more than this, it is recommended that you go to Arco, Idaho which s only a few miles down the road from Craters.
Lake Walcott State Park
Just outside of Rupert and Burley is the wonderful Lake Walcott State Park. This lovely state park is one place that you must go if you are looking for a great time while you are in South Central Idaho.
Types of Camping
According to the Idaho Park's and Recreation website, there are 22 serviced campgrounds, 18 standard campgrounds, and 2 cabins (along with 1 group site). These sites should have space for RVs, campers, and tents. However, how many of these sites will work for an RV or camper is not clear, so it is best to call ahead, and reserve a spot, before you go.
Some of the activities that a lot of people like to enjoy when visiting Lake Walcott include boating, kayaking, swimming, sailing, disc golf, and so much more. Their website even says that some people like to windsurf as well on this lake. Wow!
The environment that surrounds Lake Walcott is one of the stereotypical lake trip. It is a wooded mountainous area that surrounds the glistening blue lake. It is calm and serene, just like one would hope.
Amenities at Lake Walcott State Park include flushing toilets, dump stations, and showers.
Lake Cleveland Campground
In almost the exact center of Cassia County is the Lake Cleveland Campground. This is a mountain lake campground located in the peaks near Mt Harrison.
Types of Camping
This campground is located so high up in the mountains that even if you could get your trailer or camper up there, you might not want to take it. Since there are no amenities, it would be best to assume that this is only a place for tent camping (not a guarantee).
Fishing and kayaking are some of the biggest activities out on Lake Cleveland. However, there are also some great places to hike and explore. Be sure to be careful though, it is high in the mountains so there is no telling what you could run into up there.
As we mentioned, it is a mountain lake. While most of the lakes and campgrounds we mentioned earlier are technically mountain lakes, this one is probably the hardest to get to and the one that is the most secluded; this being thanks to the high, jagged peaks that surround it.
It also says, on Recreation.Gov, that winter conditions are to be expected at any time, even during the short summer months.
As mentioned earlier, there are no amenities available here at Lake Cleveland.
Well, there you have it- the top 4 places to go camping in South-Central Idaho. As usual, be sure to be careful wherever you decide to camp. Make sure you are obeying all the rules and regulations for the area. Now, don't forget to tune in next time for part 5 of our 7 part Camping in Idaho series!