Camping at Boise National Forest
Boise National Forest covers over 2.5 million acres in southwestern Idaho, encompassing mountainous landscapes, rivers, and forests. This area offers a multitude of recreational opportunities including camping, hiking, biking, fishing, and whitewater activities.
Camping Rules and Information
- Dispersed camping is allowed in many parts of Boise National Forest. Campers must follow Leave No Trace principles.
- Typically, campers can stay up to 14 consecutive days in any 30-day period at a dispersed site.
- Make sure to camp at least 200 feet away from lakes, streams, and trails, and ensure that you're not on private land.
- There are many developed campgrounds in the Forest, offering amenities like picnic tables, fire rings, toilets, and sometimes water.
- Reservations for specific campgrounds can be made through Recreation.gov, while other sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Developed campgrounds often have a stay limit which can range from a few days to a couple of weeks.
- Check for current fire restrictions before lighting a campfire.
- Collect downed wood for fires; do not cut live trees.
- Make sure your fire is dead out before leaving the site.
- Camping is most popular from late May through September, and some campgrounds may be closed outside of these months due to snow.
- Be prepared for changing weather conditions, especially at high elevations.
Safety and Wildlife
- Store food and trash properly to avoid attracting bears and other wildlife.
- Be aware of wildlife such as bears, mountain lions, and elk, and know what to do in an encounter.
- Weather can change rapidly; thunderstorms are common in summer, and snow can fall at high elevations even in summer.
- Always prepare for a possible change in conditions, regardless of the season.
- Bring plenty of water or have a way to treat water from streams and lakes.
- Some areas of the Boise National Forest are at high altitude. Acclimate gradually to prevent altitude sickness and know the symptoms.
Leave No Trace
- Plan ahead and prepare for your trip.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly (pack it in, pack it out).
- Leave what you find (do not take or damage natural and historical features).
- Minimize campfire impacts if they are permitted at your site.
- Respect wildlife by observing from a safe distance and never feeding them.
- Be considerate of other visitors and respect everyone's experience.
Permits and Fees
- Some areas in Boise National Forest may require a parking pass or recreation fee.
- If you plan to use a wilderness area within the forest, a free permit may be required for both day use and overnight stays.
- Fishing or hunting require the proper state licenses and adherence to Idaho's Department of Fish and Game regulations.
- For individuals with disabilities, there may be accessible facilities available. Check in advance to ensure your needs can be met.
For the latest, most accurate information, it's a good idea to check with the local ranger district offices or the Boise National Forest's official website before heading out. Conditions and regulations can change due to weather, fire hazards, and other unforeseeable events.