When the Sawtooth National Forest is your backyard, camping is an easy way to get out of town and into the woods. The landscape is diverse enough to do it all—mountain bike, fish, hike, kayak, soak in a hot spring or take a dip in a bracing alpine lake. With hundreds of campgrounds to choose from, it’s simply a matter of picking one. Here are a few great options for families:
Open June – September 15
If you want to knock two things off your list —like hot springs and bike trails— Easley has them both. It’s near the Harriman Trail with nearly 20 miles of hiking and biking, and Easley Hot Springs is a family-friendly hot pool (bathing suits and a small fee are required). Fishermen will love the grounds’ proximity to the Big Wood River. Surrounded by stands of conifer and aspen, the campground offers drinking water, firewood and vault toilets. Located 14 miles north of Ketchum. To make reservations visitrecreation.gov. or call 877.444.6777.
Open June – September 30
Just 2.2 miles northeast of Ketchum on Sun Valley Road as it becomes Trail Creek, Boundary Campground is the perfect overnighter. The grounds feature nine tent/RV campsites, restrooms, picnic tables, grills and drinking water. Despite its proximity to town, Trail Creek is a well-known hangout for moose that feed in the low-lying marshes that crisscross the area. It’s first come, first serve and there is a host to answer any questions.
EAST FORK BAKER CREEK
Open June – November
Some of the best family camping around can be found at the East Fork Baker Creek campground. Lots of flat area allows for easy camp setup and Baker Creek offers a lovely, cool respite from hot summer days, as well as ample fish. There is no fee to camp and a vault toilet, fire rings and pull-ins are all on site. If you like beautiful, cold water, drive eight miles from the campground to the Baker Lake trailhead and embark on the four-mile hike. Located 15 miles north of Ketchum on Highway 75, turn west on Forest Service Road #162 and proceed three miles. Call 208.622.5371 for more information.
Open May 15 – September 15
Boating, kayaking or horseback riding anyone? Redfish Lake has it all. The view of Mt. Heyburn alone is worth the drive, and the crystalline water is all but tropical in its emerald sheen. Luxurious flush toilets, drinking water and Redfish Lake Lodge (complete with restaurant/bar, rustic cabins, showers and general store) will appeal to those hungry for a little civilization. Campgrounds have fire rings and firewood is available for purchase. Located five miles south of Stanley, the lake is a great retreat for outdoor enthusiasts who yearn for nature, yet need access to town. Reservations and information at recreation.gov or call 877.444.6777 for more information.
For more information about camping in the area, stop by SNRA headquarters eight miles north of Ketchum on Highway 75 for maps and information, or call 208.727.5500.
Cuisine de Camp
Cooking tent-side can be easy and fun
When planning meals for your camping adventure, why not consider some tasty alternatives to the old hamburger/pasta/cold-cuts regimen? To help with ideas, we consulted some local river outfitters—masters of cooking out in the open—who shared some tasty campfire fare.
After a long day of fishing, hiking or biking, your kids will be hungry. Scooter Carling, veteran guide for Idaho River Journeys and Camp Boss for Sun Valley Outfitters, believes in getting them involved in the process. “Be creative and keep it easy,” he said, as he shared their recipe for Kid Kabobs. “Have your kids help out with the prep and the cooking.”
Meat options: Chicken, Shrimp,
Chicken Apple Sausage, Bratwurst
Veggies: Bell Peppers, Onions, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes
Cheese of choice (cut into cubes and coated in eggs and breadcrumbs if desired).
1 can of cubed non-sweetened Pineapple
1 small jar of Cocktail Onions (my favorite)
Newman’s Italian dressing makes an easy marinade. Salt and pepper also works.
1 package of Bamboo Skewers
Preparation: Cut the meat, veggies and cheese into 1-inch cubes. Cheese cubes can be dipped in egg and breadcrumbs to prevent the cheese from dripping onto the grill. Allow kids to build their own kabobs which will ensure instant happiness. Place on grill with medium hot coals and turn as needed.
Brent Estep, owner of Mackay Wilderness River Trips, reports that breakfast on the river is pretty straightforward when feeding kids. “We do a crepe breakfast bar and make them fresh right there on the river. The kids can choose ham and cheese or fresh fruits like blueberry, huckleberry, bananas and all kinds of other ingredients. They stand in front of us and say, ‘I want that and that and that.’ They just love it,” he said.
Fresh fruit and berries.
Cheese and meat of choice.
Pre-made crepe mix (Brent prefers Williams & Sonoma’s).
A steel crepe pan.
Preparation: Just add eggs, ingredients of your choice and water, mix it up and heat until done.
PIGS IN A BLANKET
Steve and Annie Lentz, owners of Far & Away Adventures, have lead trips on the Middle Fork of the Salmon since 1980. Like many of their whitewater brethren, they employ Dutch ovens to provide rafters with high-end sustenance after a long day on the river. Own a Dutch oven and you can make just about anything. For lunchtime treats, Pigs in a Blanket makes for some very happy campers.