Thursday, July 15, 2021

Three places to cool-off, camp, fish or paddle in Central Idaho, plus Stage 1 fire restrictions in effect!

Alturas Lake (courtesy Triangle C)

Hi all, 

I hope everyone is finding ways to stay cool and close to water in the midst of this major heat wave in Idaho. 

Between the smoke from wildfires causing air quality issues, combined with the heat, it's hard to get that motivated to leave the comforts of A/C. 

But in reality, the higher-elevations in Central Idaho are a great place to go, and maybe the smoke and heat will keep some people camping on the couch at home! 

This week for my outdoor tip, I'm recommending three somewhat off-beat locations for high-elevation outdoor outings near water in Central Idaho. You can go paddling, fishing or camping in these locations or just sit on the river bank or lake shore, and soak your feet in the water. Can you feel it? 

Before I share my recommendations, I've got two things to share re: trip-planning. 

1. Head's up: The Forest Service, BLM and Idaho Department of Lands have gone to Stage 1 Fire Restrictions in Southwest Idaho, Central Idaho and North-Central Idaho. Those restrictions kick in today (July 15) and tomorrow. KVTB story here

The fire restrictions mean that it's illegal to have a campfire unless you're camping in an official campground, where they have those large circular metal fire-containment structures. See the KTVB story for details. 

Air Now Fire and Smoke map screenshot. (Courtesy of Air Now)

2. Smoke map. I like this Air Now interactive Fire and Smoke map.  Good way to see what's going on with fire smoke not only in Idaho, but in the Pacific Northwest or beyond. If you're a skier, your login for should work for OpenSummit has some great interactive smoke maps as well, which will give you a sense of how the smoke plumes will play out over the next 24 hours. 

Now, as to my recommendations in no particular order:

  • Deadwood Reservoir (elev. 5,334') - The lengthy drive from Cascade or the Banks-to-Lowman road usually keeps the crowds down at Deadwood. You can go boating, SUP'ing, camping or fishing. The fishing is quite diverse, with the possibility of catching rainbow or cutthroat trout, Atlantic salmon, or kokanee salmon. Some of the campgrounds can be reserved via
    Deadwood Reservoir, courtesy Peak Visor

  • Landmark (elev. 6,630') - East of Cascade via the Warm Lake Road, you can go camping in this area at one of several Forest Service campgrounds like Penny Springs, go fishing in Johnson Creek or maybe float a section of Johnson Creek in a SUP, kayak or canoe. Road-scout the section you're going to try to look for trees across the creek (strainers). In Landmark, you're relatively close to Yellow Pine, if you'd like to take a side trip, and close to some access points on the west side of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
    Johnson Creek airstrip provides quick access to Yellow Pine.

  • Alturas or Petit Lake (elev. 7,000'), Sawtooth Valley - It looks like the official campgrounds at these lakes are reserved or close-to-full. Perhaps you can find another place to camp in the valley or stay at Smiley Creek Lodge. You can catch rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, bull trout and kokanee at Alturas Lake. More details on the IDFG fishing planner. At Petit Lake, the same species are available, plus brook trout. More details on the IDFG fishing planner. 

There you have it! Have fun out there!
- SS

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