From the captivating buttes and lava flows near the Snake River Plains to the giant pines of Sawtooth National Forest, Southern Idaho offers visitors a multitude of reasons to come and enjoy the area.
While scoping the landscape there’s little sense in rushing through this incredible part of the country. Rather than that settling for an overpriced hotel room in Boise, Twin Falls, Pocatello or any of the other cities in Southern Idaho, follow the NewWest.Net camping guide and spend a night in the pristine outdoors. It’s cheaper and bound to be more entertaining than gluing your attention to a static-laced television set. See you in the woods!
Bruneau Dunes State Park
Located just south of Mountain Home off Interstate 84, Bruneau Dunes State Park is home to the several spectacular sand dunes. Visitors can explore the dunes, including the tallest one which is approximately 470 feet high. The park is also the site of the Bruneau Dunes Observatory, where visitors can get in touch with their inner Galileo and use a telescope for star gazing.
The state park includes desert, dune, prairie, lake and marsh habitats. Additional activities include fishing, bird watching, camping, hiking and swimming. A visitor center offers information on all birds of prey, insects, fossils, wildlife and, of course, the sand dunes. Two cabins are available for rent. There are also 82 serviced sites with water and electricity and 16 standard camp sites.
Three Island State Park
This historical landmark is located on the Snake River near Glenns Ferry. It is home to The Oregon Trail History and Education Center, a cool place for visitors to learn about pioneer emigrants and Native American history.
This park was one of the most famous river crossings on the legendary Oregon Trail (not the old computer game but the actaul trail). Pioneer travelers used the three-island crossing until 1869, when Gus Glenn constructed a ferry about two miles upstream. The Glenns Ferry community sponsors a crossing commemoration the second Saturday of each August this summer.
The park offers a full-service campground, picnic areas for families or groups, historical programs and an interpretive center
Craters Of The Moon National Monument
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in the Snake River Plain near Arco, Idaho. The features in this protected area are volcanic and represent one of the best preserved flood basalt areas in the continental United States. An assortment of plant life and wild animals can be seen by hiking one of the many trails in the monument or by just pulling over into one of the turn-offs. To enhance the experience, think of yourself as Clark Griswold, seeking the Family American Dream as you wheel into the monument.
Ranger-led walks are available in summer and cover different topics such as wildlife, flowers, plants, or geology. Self-guiding tours and displays are available year-round and are easily accessible from the Loop Drive.
Craters of the Moon Campground has 52 sites – none of which can be reserved in advance. Camping facilities are basic but do include water, restrooms, charcoal grills, and trash containers. National Park Service rangers present evening programs at the campground amphitheater during the summer.
Bear Lake State Park
Located along the shoreline of Bear Lake, this park near the border of Utah and Wyoming consists of two separate units. The north unit, along the north shore of the lake, is for day use only. The east unit, along the eastern shore of the lake, provides day use and overnight camping with electrical hook-ups. The beach access in both units are popular destinations for summer water recreation on the lake. Summer time is water time, so this destination is Grade A.
At 5,900 feet elevation, the park offers a wide variety of summer recreation opportunities. Bear Lake itself is 20 miles long and 8 miles wide with half of the lake in Idaho and half in Utah. The lake is great for boaters, water skiers, and beach lovers from all over the country. Anglers can work the lines for a native cutthroat or lake trout.
Lake Walcott State Park
This park offers a cozy, relaxing setting for even the most weary of travelers. It is located at the northwest end of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Lake Walcott Project, a refuge on the edge of Idaho’s high desert. Water skiing, power boating, windsurfing, sailing and bird watching are all available at Lake Walcott. An 18-hole frisbee golf course offers another outlet for outdoor entertainment.
Camping areas with RV hookups are available. Picnickers can enjoy the acres of grass beneath groves of stately eastern hardwoods. Nearby sites of interest include Minidoka Falls near the park, Rupert City Park, and the historic railroad community of Minidoka.
However, NewWest.Net suggests not leaving any valuables in your car at night while camped near Lake Walcott.