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Sawtooth National Forest, IDAHO

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Camping Idaho Sawtooth National Forest
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very easy going

Ranger review: Banner and Oak life straw water bottle at Edna creek campground Idaho. 

Campground review

These campgrounds are pretty nice. They had snow early on in the season and it was pretty chilly when we were there. It's not a bad drive from Boise ID as long as the roads aren’t icy. The bathroom was nice enough as you can see in the pictures, but it is just a pit. It is free at least in the off season no guarantees in season. There is a dumpster, but you can’t use it in the winter. The sites are nice and large enough for a medium size family there is a picnic table and a pole to hold a trash bag or a lantern which is very nice. The fire ring was nice but not very deep because of past fires. We had a nice little creek running right near our site. The campground was not very busy so we had no trouble getting a spot and if it had been full there were other places we could have gone with no trouble.

 Product review 

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time. Today, I am testing the Life Straw Water Bottle as sold on Banner and Oak. Lifestraw Water Bottle at Banner and Oak. The water bottle is very nice looking. It does exactly as stated on the Banner and Oak site. You just fill the water bottle with flowing water. Screw the cap on and then drink the water through the straw. It does need a little more suction power to pull the water through the filter, which is noticeable but, not a big problem. Fair warning the water did taste different than tap water, but I think this is to be expected with any filter. One really cool thing about this water bottle is that for every bottle purchased they give clean water to a school child in Africa for a whole year. This is a huge bonus! This bottle is ideal for camping and hiking adventures. It is also, a good emergency essential.

Well maintained and beautiful views

Recent renovations and strong maintenance make this a great stop. Easy access to the northern Sawtooths. Great lake views and easy, well maintained road access.

Clearest water

This campground was amazing. Clean vault toilets and clean sites. Camp host was really helpful and sweet. Garbage bins. Lake is crystal clear and gorgeous. Don’t miss this place! Close to lots of great hiking for all levels and experiences.

Beautiful

Five stars on this campground. Only downside we experienced were disrespectful neighboring campers. In the last 5 days we have 3 that run them 7am to 10pm. No quiet time for us at all. Generators are allowed to run here at 6am…

Amazing Scenery and Solitude!!!

This is an amazing secluded spot deep into the Sawtooth Mountains of Central Idaho.  We've been coming here for years and my fathers been coming here since the 60's.  Not much has changed except for better upkeep of the roads and the occasional vault toilet that are scattered across the area.  The campground is free to stay at and has a dispersed feeling to it.  There are no developed rings or tables but you can tell where people usually set up camp.  For the most part this is an RV campsite mostly because of how the spots are arranged.  You could put a tent in here if you wanted but there are way better spots just up the road out of the RV'ers reaches.  These forests are pretty wild still so definitely keep an eye out for black bears.  We haven't seen any Grizzly in this area but they are definitely in the Salmon/Challis area which isn't too far away.  Also if you're from Idaho this is a good spot to ride around on your motorcycle or ATV and get some pristine alpine fishing in!

Last minute Labor day weekend find

The other reviews really sum up this site. The back sites have easier access to the river while the front are closer to the Hwy.

Clean, large sites!

I want to go back! Loved hearing the coyotes howling. We hiked to upper, middle and lower Elk River Falls, drove up to a red cedar grove with a 3000 year old tree, and ate huckleberry ice cream at the grocery store. $20 per site.

Very nice/clean campground

This was a perfect place to stay before going on our backpacking trip. The camp host Rachel was very nice and helpful. She brought us our firewood and answered all our questions. The sites all had fire rings and picnic tables. The sites were spacious.

Peaceful area

Very well kept campground. The camp host was very nice. He delivered the firewood and  directed us to the waterfall. Our campsite was clean and had a cooking stand next to the picnic table. I would very much recommend this campground.

Camp on the Payette River!!

Great sites lined up along the South Fork of the Payette River, pristine waters!  Bathrooms and potable water.  Hot springs nearby.

Wonderful Views @ a Semi-Primitive CG

Wow!  Absolutely the best spot to set up camp if you're looking at doing an alpine attempt on the roof of Idaho, Mt. Borah!  The campground sits right around 7200'  which is a decent bit cooler than the Big Lost River Valley to the west.  There is also a good bit of shade despite there being few large trees.  Its kind of a transition between the sage brush and juniper climate zones.  There are picnic tables and metal fire rings @ each site but there is absolutely no running water so be sure to fill your water bottles and camelbaks in Mackey which is the closest town.  There are vault toilets but no other amenities.  The perk of being fairly primitive is that the sites are only $5 a night!

If you're planning on summiting Borah it's a good idea to get an alpine start <6 AM so you don't get baked by the sun as there's no shade the last 2 miles and sparse shade the first 1.5.  It is a brutal hike if you're not prepared.  The trail ascends 5200' of elevation in just over 3.5 miles.  Your legs will probably burn, bring hiking poles for the descent!  If you don't feel like hiking there are plenty of rivers nearby in which to fish and great spots to check out the scarp of the 1980's Mt. Borah earthquake, which you drive across on the way to the campground/trailhead.

Beautiful

Campground full of big ponderosa pines! Small creeks surrounding the campground with wading pools and decent fishing. Commercial hotsprings near by along with some great restaurants.

Nice and close!

Nice campground close to town. Over all pretty nice very forestry. The main down fall is each of the camp grounds are pretty close to each other with almost no privacy.

Serene lake and campsite!

Alturas Lake has incredible views and the crystal clear lake is awe-inspiring! I just recommend checking with the national forest registry before booking especially during fire season. My only regret was only staying one night!

Dispersed with vault toilet

If you show up to Redfish Lake on a busy weekend and all of the campgrounds are reserved/full, no worries. There is a bunch of free dispersed camping all along highway 75. A quick stop at the Forest Service Office down the road and I had a pretty good map of the forest roads in the area, but more importantly, a tip about free camping a stone’s throw away from Redfish Lake and Sunny Gulch campground. The road in is a bit rough with ruts and rocks, but there are several established sites with fire rings. There was a loop to the right with about 8 such sites and a loop to the right with about 5 sites as well as one that was hidden behind the site I chose that you had to walk in to(it was actually a nicer site than the one I chose, but I was tired and set up before I saw it on my explorations. There was one vault toilet that was not especially clean, but free is free, and if you really wanted to, you could walk less than a quarter mile across to the developed Sunny Gulch campground. There are no picnic tables or grills or tent pads, but definitely stone fire rings at each site so no worries as long as you brought your own camp chair. If you need a shower, head into Redfish Lake to use the public pay showers there.

Great camping next to the Salmon River

Just down the road from the entrance to Redfish Lake is where you will find this campground on the backs of the Salmon River. I never did really figure out if this is part of the Redfish Lake campground group or not, but I do know I enjoyed camping here and that this campground is owned by the Forest Service. There are two main loops, an upper and lower, and there is no distinction between tent and RV sites as there are no hookups available. The upper loop is closer to the river but doesn’t really have what I could see as great access. I was on the lower loop, which gets more sun as it is further away from the bluffs on the river (and had less trees). I was able to walk from my site to the river fairly easily even though there were no trails and as a result was able to watch rafting groups float on by. The campground was really well maintained and actually looked very new, though the host said it had been around for several years. The vault toilets were very clean and odor free, and it looked like most sites had nice gravel tent pads. Good steel picnic tables and prep tables(I am loving the prep tables the forest service is installing in campgrounds!!) as well firepits and large car/rv pads were really nice too. Showers and laundry are across the road at Redfish Lake along with great trails, horse rentals, and lake activities. Other nearby activities include hot spring sitting and white water rafting.

First to Review
Redfish Lake option

This campground is one of the first ones you come to as you enter Redfish Lake. It is also one of the smallest campgrounds in the park, and it is on its own lake, so it fills fast. I snagged site 13, which was just ok as it wasn’t really on the lake or the creek, but it also wasn’t in the middle of the loop and it wasn’t next to the bathroom (with flush toilets and cold water). It looked like the best sites were #4-6 as they were on the creek coming out of the lake and #7-9 as they were on the lake with lake access. A short walk away was a neat wooden bridge over the creek that lead to a trailhead. If you want a shower, drive up into the park and go to the public service area at the horse corrals for public pay showers. I will warn you that those are the only showers for all of the campgrounds in the park, but they were never busy when I was there. You can bring your own non-motorized boat (kayaks and paddle boards were popular) or you can rent one from the lodge to take for a spin on this pretty little lake. This is a good jumping off point for some great hikes as well.

Busy but beautiful

I got lucky with this campsite. Most of the campground was filled, but this site (#36) had a “see the host” sign on it. Turned out it was only available for that one night, which was perfect for me. Most of the sites had been reserved in advance and I happened to catch it on the one between night. I had amazing views of the glaciers in the Sawtooth Mountains across the lake. The campground is a series of loops, with the best sites in my loop where you have uninterrupted views of the glaciers and mountains. The trade off for the view is that you don’t have any trees on your site, so no shade and no hammock. But the tent pad was nice. The bathrooms are nice and clean, if a bit outdated. When you need a shower you do have to drive to the horse corrals to use the pay showers ($2 for 6 minutes, wait a full minute before getting in unless you like really cold water), but that is a small price to pay. Hiking in the park is amazing! And the only place you will have phone service is at the visitor’s center.

Camp right on Alturas Lake

I lucked into this empty campground on my drive to Stanley, Idaho. I had my pick of eight sites, a couple of which were double sites. All of the sites were nice with picnic tables and firepits, including site 5, which I occupied. I chose this site as it wasn’t next to the vault toilet (which was clean), there was a nice view of the lake, and it had some nice trees for shade. It was a short walk down to the lake, and there was a nice trail along the lake with good mountain views. There was a family fishing at the boat ramp and a few people out on the lake, but in general it was very quiet. The water was very clear and if the wind had been still, there probably would have been a nice reflection of the mountains on the lake(unfortunately it was a bit breezy).

Down on the River

I didn’t camp at this campground but spent a day here on the river. It’s a bit more removed from the road compared to some of the other campgrounds on this road. The river is beautiful, there was a nearby osprey nest with two chicks.

Amazing location

This campground is the only no reservation campground accessible by car on Redfish Lake. It’s great if you are looking to score a campsite without a reservation. It’s a great location on the lake, beautiful view of the sawtooth range and a short walk to the beach. The campsites have flat tent sites, concrete pads for the picnic tables and fire rings and most have trees for some shade. The only down side is the boat and jet ski noise during the day. If you are looking to get away from everything you may want to look at some of the nearby river campgrounds. The bathrooms and campsites were very very clean and the camp hosts were very friendly. If you are looking for a good hike take the ferry from the lodge to the far side of the lake!

Source of the River of No Return

I was surprised to have the entire campground to myself. While this is primarily a group campground, single sites are plenty here as well. I am assuming you can reserve campsites, but the iron ranger was accommodating for me. Sites are either open in the meadow or with nice trees for a hammock(I went with trees for shade), and all sites have the standard picnic tables and firepits. What I like about the firepits is the built in grill. There is no water available in the campground, so pack in(I am not sure about filtering from the river, it’s kind of marshy to get there). The campground was down a very dusty road, but it was near the headwaters of the Salmon River, AKA the RIver of No Return. There is a trailhead a short walk from the campground that puts you on the Idaho Centennial Trail, and I think there is a trail that takes you to the actual headwaters of the river. I didn’t hike much of it as I was alone and without bear spray. In the evening the mule deer and pronghorn come down to the meadow to graze and the river to drink, so there is great entertainment as the sun sets. Not bad for$10 a night(for a single site).

Small but pleasant

This is a tent only campground(there is nowhere for RVs to turn around, and backing out would be a horrific proposition) with only seven sites. The best sites are the four that are on the creek side of the camp road. There is a vault toilet(not especially clean) and a bear proof dumpster, and lots of signs about bears, but no bear boxes for food storage. The campsites are nicely shaded, but not especially private(you can see most of the sites from each other). This campground is$2 cheaper than the next closest campground(I drove to the other site to check it out and returned here because except for the price, they were about the same). There is a pretty cool avalanche/rock slide up the road that is impressive in size and there are some pretty cool beaver dams and lodges in the creek/marshy area that feeds into the river. Be careful picking a site along the creek as it runs pretty close to the edge of two sites and I suspect the sites get flooded during big rains(due to the beaver dams). Showers are not terribly far away at Redfish Lake Park.

Howdy

Salmon river within walking distance. Clean Would use again

First to Review
Right on the water

Blacktop drive and parking pads with a few pull through sites. You can fish from your camp site. No hookups but water is available. Plenty of space between sites. Fire rings and picnic tables were provided. Firewood was for sale. Bring your bug spray for late afternoon and evening. We needed it in early July.

Beautiful wooded camping

Camping in the forest in Sawtooth. Pull through sites were available. Fire rings and picnic tables were at every site. Situated next to stream. Resident moose was sited one morning, and we saw bear claw markings on a tree behind a camp site. Campground hosts were very friendly and helpful. We bought wood and the host split up kindling for us. No hookups but water was available at a few areas.

Quiet and Beautiful

Plenty of paths down to Salmon river level to fish or nap. 

Limited unlocked bathrooms toilet paper in early spring.

Goose poop and ants everywhere around camp sites. 

First to Review
Deer Carcasses

Deer carcasses and no toilet. The campground is used by hunters in RVs/trailers. The place was rancid, we did not stay here.

First to Review
Hunters/Fisherman/ATVs “Resort”

The whole area around the Anderson Ranch Reservoir is mostly used by hunters and fisherman. We needed a spot to camp after Craters of the Moon and this was not exactly what we were looking for. All of the accessible spots around the dam were taken so we took a spot at this “Resort.” The Fall Creek campground had some water access spots that were all “reserved” so we opted for the hillside with cramped picnic tables and fire rings. There were a couple trailers that looked like they just set up for a few weeks and come and go. There is also a full bar with pool tables at the campground (?!). There may have been other facilities but we only used the vault toilet near the closest boat ramp. It’s a beautiful area and if you’re lucky to snag a spot along the water, it would be enjoyable. However, keep in mind that there are lots of ATVs and UTVs and the scene is deer hunters, not really our thing.