Idaho quickly became our favorite state to boondock or dry camp in. While there are options throughout the state, central Idaho is where some of the most beautiful and unbelievable spots are. With Payette National Forest, Salmon-Challis National Forest, Sawtooth National Forest and Boise National Forest right next to each other it provides a lot of public land.
The Sawtooth Mountain range is one of the most beautiful in the United States and it sits right there in that cluster of national forests. There is no end to the list of reasons why we love this area and when you can camp right in the middle of it, it makes that visit that much better.
As a reminder, please respect these places. Practice LEAVE NO TRACE and remember that these areas are prone to forest fires, so respect when there are fire bans. In 2020 the Sun Valley area had 60 active forest fires. If you want to visit these places and see green (or trees for that matter), make sure to leave it better than you found it. It is amazing how much trash we pick up at some of our spots.
Beautiful Free Camping in Idaho
Stanley, Idaho has quickly gain recognition for how beautiful it is, all the while, the area doesn't allow itself to grow. It is a small community that like it that way so the best way to visit is expecting to camp. Whether it be tent, car, van, or RV, this area has everything for each.
Do you want an open field to star gaze at night and to have a place for your dogs to roam. Even have internet if you are working remotely? Then Stanley has it.
If you want to be next to a river to fish or take a dip in the heat of summer, then Stanley has it.
Some like to be in the middle of the forest with no one close and no way to see the next closest person. Stanley has it.
Sun Valley, Idaho (Ketchum)
Sun Valley is know for the hiking and mountain biking in the summer and skiing in the winter. A small community of under 4,000 residents, make sure to support the local economy. There is so much camping in this area. Whether you want to be completely off grid and no connection to the outside world, next to a trail head or just a few miles from town in a valley, Sun Valley is your place.
We absolutely love the area. If you are lucky enough you will run into, or more likely they will walk past you, a herd of sheep. If you speak Spanish introduce yourself to the Shepard. It is fun having them surround you or watching them work on the hillside. It's the best reality tv while camping.
There are definitely quieter ares if you head farther north out of town past the visitor center. Also if you head east out of town. If you like gravel biking then this is your area.
Bruneau, Idaho is known for having Bruneau sand dunes. The longest single sand dune in the United States. There is free camping in the surrounding area but there are also campgrounds and since Bruneau sand dunes is a state park you can camp right at the dunes. We chose to stay outside and found a spot along the reservoir.
A lot of the camping areas and forests in northern Idaho are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers, which means that all campgrounds have a cost to stay at. There are a lot of parking lots (Walmart or rest stops) or some public campgrounds for free, but to find a place of solitude can be difficult unless you are a seasoned boondocker and know what to look for, but otherwise, there isn't a lot of advertised spots. Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene are the most popular towns in the north.
We continue to venture and will provide more locations as we get to them. It has been hard not going back to places that we love.