Thursday, March 21, 2013

Some spring camping suggestions for Spring Break in the desert country of SW Idaho

Here's Steve enjoying the view atop the Bruneau Dunes 
Cool rock formations to explore at Succor Creek State Natural Area. 
Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area 
Leslie Gulch 
Steens Mountain from a distance 
Hi all,

With the mercury heading into the 60s next week, it's a perfect time to plan a spring family camping trip during Spring Break. After a couple of cooler days this weekend, it's supposed to warm up to the 60s by Tuesday in Boise, and in the lower-elevation desert locations in SW Idaho, it could be even warmer. In fact, it's supposed to be nearly as warm in SW Idaho next week as it is in Moab, Utah. Time to load up the truck and go!

Here are some suggested camping destinations with possible side activities that you can enjoy while you're there:

  • Bruneau Dunes State Park - South of Mountain Home on Highway 51, Bruneau Dunes is a great place to camp, hike around on the dunes, and star-gaze. Call ahead for reservations. The park has the tallest single-structured sand dune in North America, rising 470 feet above the desert floor. Great views of the Snake River Valley from the top of the dunes. Take gators to keep sand out of your boots during the hike.   
  • Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area - Go south of Kuna to Swan Falls Dam, drive downriver on the north side of the canyon on a bumpy dirt road and find a primitive campsite. Self-support camping. Bring your binoculars and your bird book ... there are more than 800 pairs of birds of prey that nest in the canyon.
  • Celebration Park - Go south of Nampa on Idaho 45 to the Snake River and turn left to reach Celebration Park. The county's web site has detailed driving directions. It's a great place for a day trip or an overnight camping trip. The park has camping services and rest rooms. Celebration Park is Idaho's only archaeology park. It contains boulders with petroglyphs dating to 10,000 years ago, and park geology provides lessons about the Bonneville Flood.
  • Succor Creek State Natural Area - A great place to go spring camping, south and west of Homedale. I've written about Succor Creek before, describing some beautiful day-hiking opportunities from the park and camping areas. No developed services, but there is a rest room at the park. You also could climb Three Fingers while you're in the 'hood, or go explore Sage Creek, just before you arrive at the park. 
  • Leslie Gulch - Best accessed from U.S. 95, south of Marsing, Leslie Gulch is a wonderful place to visit in the spring for hiking and camping. The area also has a boat ramp and access to Owyhee Reservoir if you'd like to do a boat-and-hike trip to secret canyons inaccessible by road. The spectacular rock formations reminiscent of Southern Utah in Leslie Gulch are the big draw. Self-support camping with direct access to rest rooms.
  • Steens Mountain - Located south of Burns, OR, you can see the giant hulk of Steens Mountain from a long distance away. You can do a loop tour of Steens Mountain from the quaint little town of Frenchglen, or camp on the Alvord Desert side of the mountain, where you could camp by a lake or hit Alvord Hot Springs as a side trip. Another nearby amenity is the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. A lot of folks go birding at Malheur and then camp at Steens.              

There you have it! Have a great Spring Break.

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