11 campgrounds within an hour's drive of the Treasure Valley

These sites close to the Treasure Valley offer convenient getaways.

rphillips@idahostatesman.comMay 14, 2014 

A weekend campout usually means joining the weekend camper caravan and competing for those prime campgrounds in Stanley, McCall, Cascade or elsewhere.

But maybe you just want to get away from the house, the yard and the computer and relax without having to drive for hours on twisty roads.

There are lots of campgrounds within an hour's drive of the Treasure Valley. They might lack the glamour of Redfish Lake or Payette Lake, but in exchange you can leave town after work and be grilling steaks at camp by dinnertime.

Here's some close-in camping to check out:

MARTIN LANDING (PARMA)

This campground has been flying under the radar since it opened last summer. It's owned by Idaho Fish and Game and located at the south end of the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area and managed by Canyon County Parks and Recreation.

Martin Landing encompasses 60 acres and is at the confluence of the Boise, Owyhee and Snake Rivers. It has two campgrounds. One is near farm fields and the Martin Landing boat launch. You can drive to it and park an RV there, or pitch a tent in the grass. There are picnic tables, fire rings and a vault toilet.

The other is a walk-in area that provides several scenic campsites near the Snake River, and one right at the confluence of the Snake and Boise rivers.

These are graveled sites with picnic tables and fire rings, and there's a vault toilet a short walk away.

Bring a wheelbarrow, cart or similar item to pull your gear to the campsite, or you can launch your boat and beach it next to the campsite. Beware, there is a current, and it may be hard for nonmotorized boats to get back to the launch.

Fee: None.

Getting there: From Parma take South Roswell Boulevard. Turn onto Hexon Road. Follow Hexon to Scott Pitt Road and follow it past Olson and take a right into the park

Information: canyonco.org

MONTOUR

This is an overlooked campground close to the Treasure Valley. It's adjacent to the Montour Wildlife Management Area between Horseshoe Bend and Emmett and operated by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The park has 18 campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Water and bathrooms are available.

The campground is close to Black Canyon Reservoir and the Payette River. There is a boat launch near the campground, and the float from Montour to the reservoir is popular with canoers and other boaters who like a scenic float without whitewater.

The Payette River offers fair bass fishing, and there's a variety of fish in the reservoir, although it's not known for having outstanding fishing.

Fee: $3 for tents, $8 for RVs.

Getting there: Take Idaho 52 between Emmett or Horseshoe Bend. Go south on Montour Road. The campground is south of the Payette River about a mile from the highway.

Information: Email bcparks@usbr.gov or call 365-2682.

CELEBRATION PARK (SNAKE RIVER)

This is another Canyon County park on the Snake River, which means fishing and boating, and access to a nonmotorized section of the canyon that is popular with hikers and horse riders. There's also a small lake upstream from the park.

There are four campsites and a group camping area. There are no reservations.

The park is a popular day-use area that was established as Idaho's only archaeological park in 1989.

You can see huge basalt melon gravels deposited by the Bonneville flood, which also have petroglyphs 100 to 10,000 years old.

Visitors learn about the Native America cultures that used the area for thousands of years, and they can also take a walking tour of historic Guffey Railroad Bridge and learn about the area's early mining and railroad history.

Fee: $5 per night, three-day limit.

Getting there: From Nampa take Idaho 45. Turn left onto Ferry Road. Turn right onto Hill Road. Turn right onto Sinker Road. Turn left at Guffey Railroad Bridge.

Information: Canyonco.org, or call 455-6022.

GRAYBACK GULCH (IDAHO CITY)

This campground is about a 45-minute drive from Boise on Idaho 21.

It's a nearby place to get out of the sagebrush country and into the ponderosa pines, and there's a Mores Creek a short walk from the campground.

It's close enough to Idaho City you could even run into town and get dinner without feeling guilty about it.

There are 20 campsites, and the campground has water and outhouses. It's a convenient place to bring an RV because it's located right off a paved road, but you can expect some road noise from the highway.

It's also a good base camp for more trips because you can get there quickly and set up camp, then take off to nearby recreation areas on state and Forest Service land, or take a dip in a beautiful private hot springs pool in Idaho City.

Fee: $15 a night. Campsites are reservable by calling (877) 444-6777 or going to recreation.gov.

Getting there: Take Idaho 21 toward Idaho City from Boise for about 34 miles.

Information: Boise National Forest website, or call 373-4100

SHAFER BUTTE (BOGUS BASIN)

It may be too early to get into this Forest Service campground near Bogus Basin because it's at 6,800-feet elevation. Keep it in mind when summer arrives and stifling heat makes many of the low-elevation campgrounds uncomfortable.

Shafer Butte has seven campsites, and the Mores Mountain Nature Trail originates from the campground.

The elevation means cool camping, and there are some great views of the surrounding area and Bogus Basin. There are outhouses and water at the campground.

It's also a few miles from Bogus Basin, so you can base camp at Shafer and hike or bike Bogus' trails.

Fee: $10 per night, and spots can be reserved by calling (877) 444-6777 or going to recreation.gov.

Getting there: From Boise, take Bogus Basin Road past the ski area a few miles to the marked turn off.

Information: Website, or call 373-4100.

C.J. STRIKE DAM PARKS (GRAND VIEW)

These campgrounds are located above and below C.J. Strike Dam.

The parks include Scout, Locust and North, and they have amenities such as flush toilets. Some sites are in a large gravel area with RV spots, and there's also a nearby grassy camping area.

With the dam looming and the lights and sounds of the dam operations, it doesn't seem like your usual campgrounds, but people still like them.

Campers should remember the bridge below the dam is out of service through July, so they will have to go to Grand View and come upstream from there.

But it's still only about an hour's drive from Boise to get there. All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fee: $10 per night.

Getting there: Take Interstate 84 to Mountain Home, Idaho 67 to Grand View and head upstream to the dam. You can also take Simco Road to Idaho 67.

Information: Website

MACK'S CREEK (LUCKY PEAK)

It may be in a congested area at Lucky Peak, but you can't beat the convenience of this campground.

There are 15 spaces, outhouses and a hand pump for water, but no hookups. You can get shoreline camping, and there's a small wading area for kids.

There's also a boat ramp and docks.

The shoreline campsites are mostly for tent campers, but there are RV spots above.

Because this campground is so close to the Treasure Valley, and it's near the water, reservations are advised through recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777

Weekdays are less crowded, and you can camp free at the walk-in sites if you don't make a reservation and there's space available.

Fee: $10 to $20 depending on which site. Waterfront sites are not discountable for golden-age passes and others.

Getting there: Take Idaho 21 to Middle Fork Road up Lucky Peak to the campground.

Information: Website, or call 343-0671

HOT SPRINGS (GARDEN VALLEY)

The name alone should get you out of the house after a week at work. What's more soothing and relaxing than sitting in a hot spring?

This campground near Garden Valley may take a little over an hour from Boise, but we will fudge a little, and if you live in Eagle or Avimor, you can probably make it within an hour.

The campground is near the scenic South Fork of the Payette River, which is a favorite for whitewater boaters, and during summer has some nice little beaches and wading spots.

It's also right off the Banks to Lowman Highway, so it's easy to get an RV there.

This is a popular campground, so don't expect to be alone, and it could fill on busy weekends and holidays, so you might want to spring for reservations.

Fee: $15 per night, reserve by calling (877) 444-6777 or going to Recreation.gov.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north and turn east on the Banks to Lowman Highway and go another 17 miles.

Information: Website, or call 373-4100

SWINGING BRIDGE (BANKS)

This is about 40 miles north of Boise along a scenic canyon of the North Fork of the Payette River and next to Idaho 55.

It's in a forest with a mix of Ponderosa and lodgepole pines with plenty of shady campsites. It has 11 campsites with tables, grills and fire pits. The campground has an outhouse and drinking water.

Swinging Bridge Campground is first of four Forest Service campgrounds as you're traveling north that are next to the highway and North Fork of the Payette, but the highway is between the river and Swinging Bridge campground.

Fee: $15 per night. This campground is expected to open by May 23.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 for 10 miles north of Banks.

Information: Website or call 373-4100.

TIE CREEK (CROUCH)

This is the first of five campgrounds along the Middle Fork of the Payette River, and it's about 8 miles north of Crouch.

This campground has eight campsites, drinking water from a hand pump and a vault toilet. Parking spots can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet.

It's in the forest and next to the river, which makes it a cool, scenic spot.

This might also exceed an hour's drive from the Treasure Valley unless you live in Eagle or Avimor, but not by much.

If this one is full, keep heading up the road and hope to find a space in one of the others.

Fee: $12 per night. No reservations.

Getting there: Take Idaho 55 north, Banks to Lowman Highway to the Crouch turnoff and follow the Middle Fork Road about 9 miles.

Information: Website, or call 373-4100.

SUCCOR CREEK (OREGON)

If you're on the west side of the Treasure Valley, this scenic spot isn't far away. It's in a deep, rocky canyon south of Adrian, Ore.

You get a Southwest feel thanks to the natural rock formations, which are the main draw to this area.

There are 15 walk-in camping spots, so it's better for tent campers than RVs. Water is not available, but there is an outhouse.

It's about 15 miles of dirt road to reach the campground, so be prepared for a dusty, bouncy road.

You can hike along the canyon rims, or take a drive or ride an ATV or motorcycle and see steep, canyon walls. The Succor Creek Bridge in Succor Creek State Natural Area is open to pedestrians.

Fee: None.

Getting there: Go to Homedale and take Idaho 19 west, then Succor Creek Road about 15 miles south.

Information: Website

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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