Best Free Camping in Idaho

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.

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Recent Idaho Free Campsite Reviews

May 29, 2023

"Beautiful With Great Location"

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This is a great boondocking spot with options for easy access and more secluded tucked away options. They gps coordinates for the boondocking by Murdoch campground takes you to an area with a few sites back behind the campground (a bit harder to access) In reality, there are a handful of nice sites across the road from the dump station and then...
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24 reviews
Island Park, ID

Bootjack Dispersed Camping

May 29, 2023

"Nice Spot"

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We stayed for 6 days, found a nice sized clearing on the left, was pretty level, we had good solar and starlink reception. The only problem we had was with a large group that stayed close to the front of the road, they had lots of dirt bikes, dune buggies and 4X4. They road donuts around my site, less than 5-6 feet from our trailer, tore up the...
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2 reviews
May 28, 2023

"Will Be Back!"

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Easy to find, was able to pull our 40 foot fifth wheel through without issues. Lots of firepits and plenty of room. Dogs welcome but must be leashed. Very pretty views and nice fishing spots around.

2 reviews
May 26, 2023

"Nice Stop, Not A Destination"

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Free camping. The main portion of the campground had options for shaded/unshaded campsites. We arrived around 5pm on a Sunday and there were a couple of sites available. Things were a bit close together and muddy with the rains, so we continued up the road as described in other posts. There is one nice site that is unfortunately occupied by an...
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24 reviews
May 26, 2023

"3 Night Limit at Beautiful Free Campground"

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I have to admit, when we first rolled up to Clark Fork Drift Yard, we weren't sure how we felt about it, but as we settled in, we began to love the space. You're basically in a gravel parking lot (until a couple other sites open towards the end of May), but it's such a peaceful area. If you SUP or have a kayak, etc. it's an awesome area to...
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32 reviews