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MailTribune.com
  • Far off the beaten path

    Campers can find solitude in the wilds of Idaho
  • BOISE, Idaho — There are lots of reasons to take the road less traveled and find some of Idaho's most remote campgrounds.
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  • BOISE, Idaho — There are lots of reasons to take the road less traveled and find some of Idaho's most remote campgrounds.
    After the washboardy mountain roads, you'll end up in a less-crowded campground. Heck, you may be the only ones there.
    The adventurous camper can find solitude in developed campgrounds if he or she is willing to rough it on the road there, not at just the campsite. You will be a long ways from pavement and the RV crowd.
    Plan for a long day on back roads eating dust to find these out-of-the-way campgrounds:
    This campground is on the edge of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and offers access to trout fishing and wilderness trailheads.
    There are 13 campsites on Loon Creek — a tributary of the Middle Fork of the Salmon River — and each one has a picnic table and fire ring. It's the best of both worlds — convenient camping and wilderness.
    The area also has stock-loading facilities for equestrians. Nearby trailheads include Indian Springs, Rat Creek, China Creek, Mayfield Creek and Monte Cristo.
    Fee: none.
    Getting there: From Sunbeam east of Stanley on Idaho 75, head north 31 miles on Forest Road 112 and Forest Road 007. High-clearance vehicles are recommended for Forest Road 007. It's steep and winding, and you will encounter ruts and large rocks in the road.
    Information: Call the Yankee Fork Ranger District at 208-879-4100.
    The North Fork of the Boise River gets away from it all, but it's not far from the Treasure Valley. The river flows through canyons, meadows and timberland, and you're far off the pavement.
    If you want a developed campground, try Black Rock, which is at the start of your drive along the North Fork. Black Rock Campground has 11 campsites and costs $15 a night. It has drinking water and a vault toilet.
    If you want something more rustic, continue driving up the North Fork and pick a dispersed camping spot along the river. There are many, but you should be self-contained, including a portable toilet.
    There is no fee for camping in undeveloped areas outside campgrounds.
    Getting there: From Idaho City, travel north on Idaho 21 for 2 miles to the Granite Creek/Rabbit Creek Road No. 327. Turn right and travel east for 18 miles on Road No. 327 to the campground. You can add another 15 to 20 miles to the trip up the North Fork and beyond.
    Information: Idaho City Ranger District, 208-392-6681.
    This campground is near the end of a road in the middle of a vast backcountry on the edge of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and a gateway to cutthroat trout fishing on Big Creek.
    It's also a major access point into the Frank Church and located next to the Big Creek airstrip, so you can expect air traffic near your campground.
    It has four units. It's a good staging area for the wilderness area. It has a toilet and drinking water and other amenities.
    It's basically a day's drive from the Boise area. You have a three-hour drive to Yellow Pine and then slow going on gravel roads to the campground. This campground is often blocked by snow until late June or early July.
    Fees: $10.
    Getting there: From Yellow Pine, go 18 miles northeast on Forest roads 412, 340 and 371.
    Information: Payette National Forest, 208-634-0700.
    You may not want to take your truck or SUV up the last stretch of road to this rugged campground on the edge of the Seven Devils Mountains northwest of New Meadows.
    Many campers prefer to close the gap on a motorcycle or ATV. Yep, the road is that rough. It's located in a remote pocket of the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area at 7,200 feet in elevation with four tent campsites.
    The campground is a trailhead into the Hells Canyon Wilderness and along the Seven Devils Mountains. There's fishing in Black Lake and hiking and horse riding on wilderness trails.
    Fee: None.
    Getting there: From Council, go 30 miles northwest on Forest Road 002, 5 miles northeast on Forest Road 105 and 10 miles north on Forest Road 112, which requires high-clearance, four-wheel drive.
    Information: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area, 208-628-3916.
    Shiefer Campground is an undeveloped site on the Salmon River with views of the South Fork Salmon River canyon. It's a long drive, but the solitude is worth it.
    Trails lead along the river into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. There is a shorter trail to Pilot Peak lookout.
    This campground takes several hours to reach by car from McCall and is not serviced on a regular basis. It has the basic campground amenities.
    Fee: None.
    Getting there: From McCall, go north on Forest Road 21, then east on Forest Road 340. You will travel through the town of Secesh and Warren.
    Information: Payette National Forest, 208-634-0700.
    This six-unit campground is located on Wildhorse Lake on the edge of the Gospel Hump Wilderness. It's a good jumping-off point for exploring trails in the wilderness area northeast of Riggins.
    There is a toilet but no water. You could treat water from the lake.
    A trail from the campground leads into Tenmile Meadows. Another trailhead south of the campground has stock facilities for horse packers.
    Fee: None.
    Getting there: From Idaho 14, east of Grangeville, turn south on Crooked River Road 233. Go through the old Orogrande town site, past the junction with Big Creek Meadows Road 311 to Orogrande Summit and the junction with Road 233I. Turn right on Road 233I and continue 2.5 miles to the campground. It is about 25 miles southwest of Elk City.
    Information: Red River Ranger District, 208-842-2245
    This is a very small campground on the edge of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, northwest of Stanley. There are three campsites on Josephus Lake with typical campground amenities.
    A hiking trail from the campground heads west into the wilderness, branching out through a lake-filled region before reaching the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
    Fee: None.
    Getting there: From Stanley, go north 17 miles on Idaho 21 and turn on Forest Road 008. The campground is about 18 miles north.
    Information: Yankee Fork Ranger District, 208-879-4100.
    It takes more than 30 miles of driving on rough dirt roads to get to the Graham area on the edge of the Sawtooth Wilderness. The reward is camping on the edge of the wilderness and getting a chance to fish the North Fork of the Boise River for wild trout.
    Graham Bridge Campground is near the Graham Guard Station and landing strip, so you will have company, sometimes.
    There are four campsites on the North Fork. The river can be hiked all the way to its headwaters in the Sawtooth Wilderness. There is a toilet, but no drinking water. You can get water from the river and treat it.
    Fees: None.
    Getting there: The area is 53 miles northeast of Idaho City. From Idaho City, take Idaho 21 for 18 miles to Crooked River-Little Owl Road 384. Turn left and stay on Road 384 for 4 miles to Pikes Fork Road 312. Turn right and stay on Road 312 for 26 miles. There are only two major road intersections on Road 312. Just keep bearing right and follow the directional signs.
    Warning: Vehicle access to the area is generally limited from mid-July to the beginning of October due to high-elevation snow. The road is extremely rocky and rutted and has steep sections. You also have to ford the river. Only high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles are recommended. Plan on a minimum three-hour trip from Idaho City.
    Information: Idaho City Ranger District, 208-392-6681.
    Power Plant Campground is near the historic mining town of Atlanta near the Sawtooth Wilderness. It has 30 campsites located near the headwaters of the Middle Fork of the Boise River with trailheads into the wilderness. Drinking water, toilets and other amenities are available.
    Fishing in the Middle Fork for trout is popular. Although far from anywhere, the campground will get more pressure than others because it's located near Atlanta.
    Fees: $15.
    Getting there: From Boise, drive Idaho 21 to the Spring Shores and Atlanta turnoff. Then travel 63 miles. It's a very rough road.
    Information: Idaho City Ranger District, 392-6681.
    There is only one developed campground along the 100-mile Owyhee National Byway, and this is it. The road is dirt and gravel and cuts across the Southwest Idaho desert.
    The campground has a toilet and campsites, but no water. It is right in the middle of Owyhee Canyonlands, with possibilities of wilderness hiking and scenic drives in the area.
    This is a great spring trip, but can get brutally hot during summer. However, it's located about 5,000 feet elevation, so you may get cool nights.
    Fee: None.
    Getting there: About 27 miles southeast of Jordan Valley, Oregon, on the Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway
    Information: U.S. Bureau of Land Management, 896-5912.
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