North Fork Big Wood River

Sawtooth National Forest

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Ketchum, ID 83340
Official Website

GPS: 43.8413, -114.4263

Last Price Paid: $0
Pad Type: dirt
Open Seasonally: Yes
Elevation: 6754 ft
Max Stay: 16
Tent Camping: Yes
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Marc Guido
Salt Lake City, UT
21 Evo T2050
2014 Toyota Tundra
9 reviews
Nightly rate: FREE!
Days stayed: 2
Site Number: N/A

Marc Guido would stay here again

“The best site we found in our week in southern Idaho”

Reviewed Jul 16, 2017

Overall Rating

This boondocking site was our favorite out of an entire week spent in southern Idaho.

FR-146 is a dead-end dirt road that follows the North Fork Big Wood River just north of Ketchum/Sun Valley. Turn off ID-75 onto FR-146, which is marked for the Sawtooth NRA ranger station that's located just a few feet up the road. Just north of the ranger station you'll also find a dump station ( with both rinse and fresh water for $5 per use, with a fee drop located on site, perfect for filling up water on the way in or dumping your tanks and dropping your trash in a dumpster on the way out. It's $5 for anyone, whether you're boondocking up the road or not.

Just past the dump station the road becomes legal for dispersed camping on both sides, although there are a couple of Forest Service dry campgrounds up this road, too. Watch both sides for established dispersed sites all along the road. Most were occupied on the Sunday through Tuesday that we were in the area. The road is initially graded dirt/gravel, but the further up you go the more the road deteriorates, especially past the Manapu Organization Camp a little over three miles in. We nevertheless elected to continue on with our 21-foot trailer in search of the perfect unoccupied spot, but I would definitely not consider going more than 2 miles up the road with any sort of big rig or without 4WD and some ground clearance.

Just past the East Fork trailhead, at 6,800 feet and not far before the end of the road we found the perfect riverside location. Our nearest neighbor was about a quarter mile downstream, out of sight and out of mind. At this GPS location there are actually about 3 or 4 established sites adequately separated from one another. We chose one where we were partially hidden from the road (even though we only saw two or three vehicles over the course of two nights) that featured nothing but the sound of rushing water to fall asleep to each night. We could just open the trailer door in the morning and let the dogs play in the river. The lofty snow-covered summits of the Boulder Peak Wilderness loom above camp just to the north. And we were beyond shocked to find weak but adequate 4G service on Verizon.

Be aware that at the time of this writing, there appears to be an active bear in the area. On our first morning I awoke to find my generator gas can tipped over with two tooth punctures in it, and I later learned that my downstream neighbor had his trash strewn about on the same night (shame on him for not stowing it safely!). Use proper bear territory camping protocol.

Site Quality
Verizon 4G

This review is the opinion of a Campendium member and not of

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Liftlines Skiing and Snowboarding Forums • View topic - TR: Camping Southern Idaho 7/8-15/2017

Mrs. Admin and I just got back from a week of exploring southern Idaho. And yeah, there's some tangential ski-related content in this post. When she got back from Canada a day later than planned, howev...

  • dry camping
  • Dispersed Camping
  • water access
  • dump station
  • water available
  • pets


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