Thursday, May 22, 2014

10 rock-solid ideas for camping and outings over Memorial Day weekend in SW Idaho

Always great to get the kids out camping in the mountains 
Time to pull out the Dutch oven! 
We love to camp so we can relax in camp and shoot the bull ... 
Salmon River beach scene! Won't need the sun tarp this time of year ... 
Morels are happening! 
Hi all,

The weather looks pretty darn nice for Memorial Day weekend! Highs in the mid-70s to 80s in the lower elevations, and highs in the high 60s and low 70s in the mountains. Very little chance of precipitation. So, hey, time to load up the rig with all of your camping gear for the official launch of the camping season over Memorial Day weekend.

The Idaho Statesman outdoors team pulled together a nice summary of the camping, road and trail conditions in the Boise, Payette and Sawtooth national forests in today's paper. The upshot seems to be that trails, roads and campgrounds below 6,500-foot elevation are open for Memorial Day weekend activities, and sites above that elevation are more iffy or closed by snow. Bull Trout Lake is closed by snow, for example, and so are Deadwood Reservoir and the Trinity Mountains.

Here are my 10 rock-solid ideas for Memorial Day camping and outings:

  • Camping in the Owyhees should be fine, but be forewarned, the rattlesnakes are emerging. See my spring camping blog post from March ... places like Bruneau Dunes State ParkLeslie GulchSuccor Creek State Park or the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area would all be good bets. 
  • Camping near Idaho City should be great. Take the Rabbit Creek Road into the North Fork of the Boise River or the Middle Fork of the Boise River. There are tons of self-support dispersed camping areas in both river corridors. Keep an eye on your kids. The rivers are running high. 
  • Camping near Stanley should be fine, too, at low elevations. Stanley Lake Campground is open. So are the campgrounds at the ever-popular Redfish Lake and vicinity. Can't beat the view!   
  • Morel mushrooms are popping up in the Boise National Forest and Payette National Forest. Morels are delicious and easy to identify. Look for them between 4,500 and 5,500 elevation. Might be good pickings in the Pony and Elk complex fire zones from last summer, but not sure how much of that is accessible to the public.  
  • Another cool spring camping location is on the HUGE white sandy beaches along the Salmon River, upstream of Riggins. There are numerous big beaches up there where you can set up a great camp, hang out by the river, do some floating on the Salmon and/or go hiking. The hike on the Wind River Trail via the Wind River Pack Bridge about 25 miles upstream of Riggins has a number of switchbacks as you climb higher and higher up the Salmon River canyon. The trail eventually leads into the Gospel Hump Wilderness, but you probably won't get that far. That'd be a great hike right now.
  • If you're in the Riggins area, the hike up Rapid River is a sweet one, too. The trailhead is about two miles south of Riggins. I just saw some beautiful photos from some folks who went backpacking in the Rapid River last weekend. 
  • Camping in Lake Cascade State Park should be dandy as well. If you go to Cascade, the Crown Point Trail is a great family friendly hike or bike ride for all abilities and ages. It's about 3 miles one-way to a temporary dead-end, and 3 miles back. You also can go biking or hiking on the The Strand, a two-mile trail along the North Fork of the Payette River in Cascade. Very pretty spot, and it's next to Kelly's Whitewater Park. 
  • Idaho has lots of great state parks! Visit the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation web site to check out the camping opportunities. I've mentioned Lake Cascade and Bruneau Dunes, but there's also Three Island Crossing State Park, Ponderosa State Park and Thousand Springs State Park to consider in SW Idaho.  
Those are a few ideas to chew on ... Have fun!
- SS