Best Free Camping in Idaho

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Free Camping in Idaho

By Sara Sheehy

If the first thought that comes to your mind when you hear Idaho is "potatoes," we have a surprise for you. Snuggled in between Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming, Idaho has everything from high-elevation sagebrush desert to the moody, dense forests of the Pacific Northwest.

It is also home to the largest wilderness area in the contiguous United States, and a whopping 34 million acres of public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and regional and local entities.

If free camping is your jam, Idaho has it in spades. Here are just some of the dispersed and free camping sites to explore in the Gem State.

Free Camping Near Boise

Boise is Idaho’s capital city and by far its largest one. It’s also one of the fastest-growing cities in America and is known for its brewery scene, great restaurants, and remarkable access to outdoor recreation.

If you want to be right in the center of the action, a private campground is your best option in Boise. However, if you don’t mind a bit of drive to get into the metropolis, check out the BLM lands at Swan Falls Campground or the free dispersed camping at Bogus Basin.

Free Camping in Sun Valley and the Sawtooth Basin

Sun Valley is the United States’ first destination ski resort and a popular Idaho destination year-round. In fact, if you ask the locals, they’ll likely tell you that they love summer even better than winter! Surrounded by five mountain ranges and plenty of public lands, there is a wealth of primitive campsites in the Sun Valley area.

For those who need cell service, Lake Creek is a crowd favorite for both RV camping and tent camping. If you can escape the connectivity demands and get off-the-grid, check out the epic mountain views in Baker Creek or Prairie Creek.

Just over the pass from Sun Valley is the tiny town of Stanley, home to the stunning Sawtooth Mountains. Big and small rigs can find a home base at Stanley Lake Dispersed or Salmon River #1.

Free Camping in North Idaho

Wild rivers, dense forests, and beautiful lakes await in lush northern Idaho. It’s a big, overwhelming landscape, so first-time visitors would be wise to camp near Sandpoint or Coeur d’Alene for easy access to grocery shopping, river sports, great fishing, and other amenities.

Near Sandpoint, Clark Fork Drift Yard boasts panoramic mountain views on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. Granite Lake Access is a quiet spot in the trees about 20 miles from downtown Sandpoint.

Coeur d’Alene is a bigger city that offers some in-town overnight parking at Cabelas and Walmart in nearby Post Falls, but boondockers looking to stay for longer will find better options at Fernan Saddle and Rose Lake.

Free Camping in Eastern Idaho

Did you know that Idaho holds a sliver of Yellowstone National Park? Combine that with easy access to the tourist hotspot of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and eastern Idaho is an attractive option for adventure-loving campers.

Island Park, which is surrounded by the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, is an eastern Idaho destination in its own right. This small town is known for its world-class fly fishing along Henry’s Fork of the Snake River. It’s also a stone’s throw to West Yellowstone. Free camping in Island Park includes the peaceful sites at Red Rock Pass, the waterfront sites at Romsett Beach, and the pretty landscapes at Targhee Creek Trailhead.

Closer to Jackson Hole are the gorgeous mountain towns of Tetonia, Driggs, and Victor. You can stay for ten days at Big Eddy-Rainey Campground, or get Teton views at Teton Canyon Road (technically in Wyoming, but can only be reached from Idaho).

From the welcoming downtown of Boise to the wild rivers of Island Park, Idaho is a state that will surprise you. With plentiful public lands, you’ll never be too far away from a great, and free, night’s sleep.

Recent Idaho Free Campsite Reviews

Carey, ID

Little Wood River

Jun 11, 2024

"Peaceful & Free (and bug free, at least with the present winds)"

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Actually called Littlewood Reservoir, not River as listing shows. Spending the night as we make our way out to Wallowa Lake State Park, OR. More than happy to have driven 11 miles off the highway (littlewood reservoir rd) to get here. Last 4 miles were dirt but in better shape than the highway from Craters of the Moon to Carey were. We...
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29 reviews
Jun 09, 2024

"Beautiful views!"

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Stayed here few nights when traveling to Jackson Hole. Beautiful views and very quiet. Saw lots of wild life. Road in was fine with just few bumps but very doable. We didn’t stay at top due to that area being more populated. Only complaint is that people drive so fast on this road and I was concerned of my dogs getting hit. Otherwise...
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2 reviews
Jun 08, 2024

"Very Pretty"

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We stayed in our 5th wheel and it was a lot quieter and easier than the paid for campground we had the night before. Awesome views of the huge windmills was a plus. We would definitely stay there again!

"Not A Lot Of Options"

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Not a lot of options in this area for private camping. Lots of people driving up and down the road all night on a Friday night. The campground up the road was challenging to get to in a camper van due to low hanging branches and was taken when we got up there.

Julie M
1 review
Post Falls, ID


May 30, 2024

"Ear Plugs Optional In the Shooting Department "

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Clean store with all the outdoor gear anyone could ever want. Ya Simi’s running and trains in the evening but it’s free for overnight stop spot. No dump station due to vandalism. I will be back.

4 reviews