The Ultimate Guide to RV Camping in Idaho

Travel Inspiration

If you’re like the vast majority of people out there, the first thing you think of when you think of Idaho is potatoes. Yes, the state does grow some pretty great potatoes, but the thing is, Idaho has so much more to offer than just a root vegetable. For this reason, we highly recommend RV camping in Idaho in order to see and experience as much of it as possible. 

But how does one go about planning an RV trip to see Idaho’s snow-capped mountains, fields of wildflowers, crystal clear streams, and dense forests? Well, that’s where this Idaho state camping guide comes into play. Use the information below to plan the perfect RV camping in Idaho adventure!

Preparing for RV Camping

Before you hit the road, you need to do a bit of prep work. Making sure you have an RV to camp in is the first step, followed by packing the RV with all of the things you need for a comfortable camping trip. Fortunately, we have a wide selection of Idaho RV rentals for you to choose from, so even if you don’t have an RV of your own, you can still experience RV camping in Idaho. 

Choosing the Right RV for Your Needs

Wondering how to go about choosing the perfect RV rental for your trip to Idaho? First, consider whether you want to drive an RV at all. If you aren’t comfortable with that idea, renting an RV (or a series of RVs if you’re planning to see multiple spots) might be the best option for you.

Don’t mind driving the RV? Think about what size RV you’d be comfortable driving, and whether you need a drivable motorhome or if a towable will work for you. If you do go the towable route, make sure you have a vehicle that is capable of safely towing the RV. 

With those decisions out of the way, the last things you need to decide on include a floor plan that works for the number of travelers in your party, as well as what kinds of amenities you require in order to be comfortable in your camper. 

Packing Essentials for a Successful Trip

You have the perfect RV picked out, so now it’s time to think about what you should pack. You see, camping requires a whole lot more gear than a typical vacation, meaning you’ll definitely want to make a thorough packing list and ensure you check off each and every item. 

Not sure what to include on an RV packing list? Here’s a very basic list to get you started. Use this as a foundation and add to it as needed:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray and sunscreen 
  • Tools
  • Entertainment (books, games, movies, toys for kids)
  • Outdoor recreation gear
  • Electronics and chargers
  • Pots, pans, and dishes
  • Paper towels
  • Groceries
  • Flashlights
  • Folding chairs
  • Bed sheets
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Pet gear
  • RV leveling blocks
  • Sewer hose and adapter
  • Freshwater hose
  • RV surge protector

Of course, this list is far from complete. For more suggestions on things to pack, make sure to check out this RV packing list.

Picturesque view while RV camping in Idaho

Considerations for Camping in Idaho

For the most part, RV camping in Idaho is very similar to camping in any other state. That said, there are always a few differences when camping in a new place, and knowing these before you dive in can be tremendously helpful. 

For instance, Idaho state law says that no rig can be longer than 75 feet. Trailers must remain under the 53-foot-long mark, and motorhomes cannot exceed 45 feet long. The width on any rig shouldn’t be more than 8.5 feet, and the height should be 13.5 feet or less. 

Triple towing (meaning, towing a trailer behind a trailer) is allowed in Idaho, provided the maximum length doesn’t exceed the previously mentioned 75 feet. Breakaway switches and brakes are required on all trailers over 1,500 lbs. 

Keep in mind, much of Idaho is mountainous and some steep grades may be involved when driving mountain roads. Make sure your rig is capable of these climbs and descents, and know how to drive in mountains before you go

Finding Campgrounds

Having a place to stay once you arrive in Idaho is important. Luckily, considering the number of campgrounds in the state, finding the perfect place shouldn’t be too difficult at all. From luxury campgrounds to wilderness dry camping, and from urban camping to rustic state parks, there is something for everyone in this beautiful state. 

Exploring Public Campgrounds in Idaho

First, we will talk about Idaho’s public campgrounds. State parks in Idaho are perfect for campers seeking a fun time “roughing it,” and the national forest campgrounds are absolutely beautiful. Of course, we can’t forget the campgrounds located in national park sites and on BLM land. 

National Park Camping

A part of Yellowstone National Park makes itself at home in Idaho. This is a spectacular park that everyone should see at least once, and it should definitely be on your Idaho itinerary if at all possible. Unfortunately, none of the campgrounds in Yellowstone are in Idaho, so you will need to stay on the Wyoming side or drive in for the day. 

One Idaho NPS site that does have overnight camping? Craters of the Moon National Monument. No, this isn’t technically a national park, but we think it’s just as awesome as one, and the onsite dry camping at Lava Flow Campgrounds is a major bonus. 

National Forest Camping

Idaho has 7 national forests that cover an astounding 40 percent of the state. These include:

  1. Boise National Forest
  2. Kootenai National Forest
  3. Payette National Forest
  4. Salmon-Challis National Forest
  5. Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
  6. Idaho Panhandle National Forest
  7. Caribou-Targhee National Forest

All 7 of these beautiful forests offer camping of some sort, making them ideal places to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and reconnect with nature. 

One of the best Idaho national forest campgrounds is Pine Flats Campground in Boise National Forest. This campground offers dry campsites, a nature trail, easy access to both the river and hot springs, and more. 

State Park Camping

In addition to the many national forests in the state, you’ll also find a number of fantastic Idaho state parks. These parks are great places to set up camp and do a bit of exploring without ever having to leave your state park bubble. 

We especially love Farragut State Park, which features gorgeous views, lake access, hiking trails, and of course, RV camping. The campsites in the park offer electric hookups as well as access to potable water and a dump station. 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping

As if national parks, national forests, and state parks weren’t enough, Idaho also boasts BLM land that is just perfect for camping. Some campgrounds charge a camping fee, but many dispersed camping spots are totally free!

Huckleberry Campground is located about 21 miles north of Cascade and offers designated dry camping spots with picnic tables. There is a small fee to camp, but we think it’s totally worth it. 

Looking to save some money? Head to the Wolverine Canyon where you will find some free BLM dispersed campsites. 

Exploring Private Campgrounds and RV Parks

Want to try your hand at glamping? Just hoping for a campground that offers a bit more than the typical potable water fill and dump station? Consider staying at one of Idaho’s private campgrounds

Idaho Falls Luxury Park is one of our top picks for luxury camping in the state. Here you’ll have a beautiful view of the Snake River and easy access to Idaho Falls. The whole campground is well kept and amenities include bathhouses with heated floors, a dog park, pickleball courts, and a large outdoor fireplace. 

Boondocking in Idaho

We already mentioned some boondocking options on BLM land. The aforementioned national forests also boast a lot of free dispersed campsites. In fact, Idaho is one of the very best states for boondockers!

Some of our favorite Idaho boondocking spots include Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area, Tripod Reservoir, and Smith Lake. 

Researching Campground Options and Making Reservations

By now you probably have a pretty good idea of the types of campsite you’re looking for when you go RV camping in Idaho. That said, you might want to do a little more digging to see what other options you come up with. To do this (and to book online), we recommend looking at Hipcamp, Campspot, BookOutdoors, The Dyrt, and RoverPass. You might also check out Harvest Hosts for some awesome unique stays!

Downtown Boise, Idaho

Planning Your Itinerary

The next step? Planning your itinerary, of course! Whether you plan on hiking the forests, fishing in the river, soaking in the hot springs, or exploring cities like Boise and Idaho Falls, there is something awesome waiting for you in this amazing state. 

Features and Attractions in Idaho

Let’s start by talking about some of the most iconic features and landmarks in the state. A scenic drive is a great option, as it lets you get a good feel for the place and really take in the views. We especially love the Salmon River Scenic Byway. 

Whether you see them along your drive or make a special trip to check out a few, you’ll also want to make a point of seeing some of Idaho’s landmarks. These include things like the Old Idaho Penitentiary Site and Borah Peak, as well as national sites like City of Rocks National Reserve and the aforementioned Craters of the Moon National Monument. 

Festivals, Fairs, and Events in Idaho

Don’t forget to look into the possibility of attending an event during your visit. Like all states, Idaho has its own share of awesome annual events that are well worth checking out.

Some of the best events in Idaho include the National Oldtime Fiddlers Contest and Festival in Weiser, the Teton Valley Balloon Rally in Driggs, Salmon River Days in Salmon, and Idaho Spud Days in Shelley.

Exploring Outdoor Activities

Idaho is easily one of the prettiest states in the entire country. Therefore, it only makes sense to spend as much time as possible enjoying the fresh air and gorgeous scenery. No matter how you like to spend your time in the great outdoors, Idaho has an outdoor recreation option for you. 

Hiking, Biking and Nature Trails

Like to go hiking? Enjoy cycling over wilderness trails? You’re sure to be pleased with many beautiful trails that wind their way through the state of Idaho. 

For hikers, the trails below are sure to be a good fit:

Cyclists will appreciate the trails listed below. 

Of course, you can always find trails that suit your needs and wants by using the many handy filters on AllTrails

Fishing, Boating, and Water Activities

Of course, you really must take advantage of all the beautiful water that shows up throughout the state. Whether you’re near a stream, river, or lake, you’re sure to find some great ways to use the water to add to your fun. 

Fishing is one great way to have fun in a river or a lake, and the fishing in Idaho is fantastic! Lake Lowell near Nampa is well stocked with catfish, and Brownlee Reservoir on the Oregon-Idaho border is great for catching smallmouth Bass in May and June. 

Want some time on a beach? Obviously, you won’t find any ocean beaches in Idaho, but you’ll find a few freshwater beaches. Priest Lake is an excellent option with an easy access point in Priest Lake State Park. Meanwhile, Lake Pend Oreille lures swimmers in with its turquoise waters. 

Waterfalls are plentiful in the state of Idaho and we like to make a game of finding new ones each time we visit. Some of the best waterfalls in the state include Shadow Falls, Jump Creek Falls, and Shoshone Falls. Why not see how many you can find?

Wildlife Viewing and Photography

As you might imagine based on the huge number of natural areas in the state, Idaho is an excellent place to do some wildlife viewing. Eagles and sand cranes are just a couple of the fascinating bird species you might encounter during your time there, and grizzly bears, caribou, mountain goats, mule deer, and more also make themselves at home in Idaho. 

To see some of these amazing animals, try taking a hike through one of the many national forests or visiting Yellowstone National Park. You might also head to Cougar Bay Preserve, Bear Lake National Wildlife Refuge, or Hagerman Wildlife Management Area. 

Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions

What about things for the kids to do? Well, we think most of what we’ve already mentioned would be just as fun for kids as for the adults. That said, there are plenty of other options as well. Whether you plan to visit one of the cities already mentioned or someplace like Twin Falls or Rexburg, you’re sure to find something your kids will adore. 

Historical Sites and Museums

One of the things we love to do with kids when traveling is a bit of roadschooling. We find fun local sites that also provide a bit of educational value and then return home with some new knowledge. 

National sites are some of the best places to do this. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument is one great spot for roadschooling, as is the Minidoka National Historic Site

You might also look into visiting one of Idaho’s many museums to learn something new while having some family-fun. 

Some of our favorite museums in the state include:

  • Idaho State Museum in Boise
  • Museum of Clean in Pocatello
  • Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa
  • Idaho Potato Museum and Potato Station Cafe in Blackfoot
  • Museum of Idaho in Idaho Falls

Amusement Park, Zoos, and Wildlife Refuges

Another excellent choice for those visiting with kids? Idaho amusement parks of course! Silverwood Theme Park in Athol is the largest theme park in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s an excellent choice for any family vacation. We also love Roaring Springs Waterpark for cooling off in the summer. 

You could also choose to add a zoo to your itinerary. Zoo Idaho in Pocatello is our first pick. Other good choices include the Aquarium of Boise, Yellowstone Bear World, and Idaho Falls Zoo. 

Stormy weather over a road in Idaho

Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Idaho

Safety should always come first, even when you’re having an amazing RV adventure. Be sure to head into RV camping in Idaho prepared with these tips below. 

Weather Conditions and Natural Disaster Preparedness

In terms of natural disasters, visitors to Idaho should be prepared for wildfires, floods, landslides, earthquakes, severe storms, and of course, winter storms. You likely won’t encounter any of these things on your trip, but it is better to be safe than sorry. 

To avoid severe weather, be sure to download a couple of weather apps and allow them to send you push notifications. Avoid parking your rig in areas where landslides are common, and skip the campsites in flood areas, especially during rainy times. Of course, avoiding Idaho travel during the winter months will ensure you aren’t caught in a winter storm. 

Wildlife Encounters and Precautions

While Idaho wildlife is totally cool and worth watching from a distance, many of the animals native to this state can also be dangerous. For this reason, it’s important that you never approach or feed a wild animal, and always keep your distance. 

When hiking, make plenty of noise to let bears and other animals know you’re in the area, and be sure to put all food away in bear-safe containers when you’re finished with it. Carrying bear spray can also help protect you from large predators. 

Of course, you’ll also want to watch out for snakes, bugs, and poisonous plants such as poison ivy. 

More Inspiration for Your Idaho Travels

As you can see, Idaho is an excellent place to visit, especially if you happen to be traveling in an RV. Want even more inspiration for RV camping in Idaho? Be sure to check out the links below to learn about all our favorite places in the state: