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Some of our very favorite memories were made camping. There was the time when we all jumped in a huge mud puddle and had the time of our lives…until we had to rinse off in the freezing cold stream. There was that time when we discovered that adding a Reese’s peanut butter cup to our s’more made our favorite campfire treat out of this world. There are the times we sat by the lake and soaked up the sun, sang campfire songs and told scary campfire stories, counted shooting stars, picked wildflowers, listened to the coyotes howl and the elk bugle, and all of the times we got to explore someplace new. Camping definitely holds a special place in our hearts. If you are looking to ditch your four walls for a tent for the first time, or are interested in finding new places to stretch your legs in the great outdoors, we rounded up some of our favorite camping options in the McCall area to get you started.
For those looking for luxury RV camping along the Payette River, the McCall RV Resort is the place for you. Each site offers water/sewer hookups, electric, cable and wifi. As a guest, take advantage of the beautiful Northfork Lodge complete with indoor swimming pool, spa, steam room, fitness facility and large patio. Borrow lawn games or head to the onsite playground to keep the kids entertained. Don’t have an RV? No problem! You can also rent a log cabin. (g7rvresorts.com)
Sitting along the Weiser River in Cambridge, Idaho, Mundo Hot Springs is the perfect basecamp for a weekend (or weekday) getaway. The facility has a beautiful pool fed by a natural mineral hot spring, RV sites with full hookups, camping sites, and several cabin accommodations options. With easy access to the Weiser River Trail, it is easy to grab your bike for a morning adventure then come back for an afternoon soak. (mundohotsprings.com)
If you are looking for a quiet spot that keeps you in the center of all the action, Creekside RV Park is a great option. Located eight miles outside of McCall near New Meadows, Idaho, the park gives you easy access to MeadowCreek Golf Resort, Brundage Mountain Resort and downtown McCall. With 27 full hookups, 10 electric/water sites, a covered BBQ area, walking trail, tent camping area, fishing pond, bathrooms and showers, and laundry facilities, Creekside is a little slice of simple, secluded paradise. (creeksidervparkandcampground.com)
This historic family ranch is a destination all on its own. Located along the Salmon River just outside of Riggins on the Big Salmon Road, the RV Landing at Carlson Ranch offers full RV hookups and guest cabins along with private beach access, boat mooring, beach volleyball court, firepits, a bathhouse and more. They have also partnered with CM Backcountry Rentals to offer ATV/UTV rentals during your stay and their sister company, Salmon River Helicopters, offers private tours along Hells Canyon, the Payette Mountains, and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness area right from the campground. (thervlanding.com)
Located on the shores of Payette Lake, Ponderosa State Park offers standard and serviced campsites as well as cabins for small or large groups. Feel like you are in the heart of the forest while still being just a short walk or bike ride from the shops and restaurants in downtown McCall. Ponderosa offers canoe, kayak and SUP rentals, a boat launch, sandy white beaches, hiking and biking trails and even ice cream for the kids at the Visitor’s Center. Ponderosa offers multiple areas for RV and tent camping including the main park near downtown McCall as well as the Northwest Passage Campground near North Beach. Reservations are highly recommended. (parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/ponderosa/)
This state park takes full advantage of everything Lake Cascade has to offer. With RV and tent camping sites spread across 10 developed campgrounds as well as two dispersed camping areas, it is easy to find the perfect site within the park. Enjoy boating, wind surfing, stand up paddle boarding, sandy beaches, hiking, biking, and some of the best fishing in the area on Lake Cascade. Camping is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and most locations within the park can be secured by reservation. (parksandrecreation.idaho.gov/parks/lake-cascade/)
There is a huge variety of designated campgrounds within the Payette and Boise National Forests around McCall. Here are a few of our favorite options from across the region.
Camp on the shores of Upper Payette Lake, 17 miles north of McCall. Stroll along the interpretative trail within the campground or along the paved paths by the lakeshore. Several hiking trails also leave from the campground including the Deep Creek Trail which connects the campground to Granite Lake (4.7 miles). A boat launch is located next to the campground (no-wake lake). Sites are can be reserved for $10 per night (single unit) or $15 per night (double unit).
Make Grouse Campground your home base for exploring the lakes and trails in the Goose Lake Road area. The campground is located on Goose Lake with 22 sites (nine are available for reservation). Bring your small motorized boat or float tube and take advantage of the prime fishing or pack the SUPs and canoe and paddle the shoreline. Potable water and vault restrooms are available. Sites are $10 per night (single unit) or $15 per night (double unit).
This little gem sits right along Chipmunk Creek along the Warm Lake Road with campsites spread between old-growth Ponderosa pines. This is a great spot for a bit of quiet and relaxation with ample opportunity for wildlife viewing, fishing and hiking. In September, don’t miss a chance to visit the South Fork Salmon River fish viewing site with a bridge over the water for prime Chinook salmon viewing. South Fork Salmon is host to 11 campsites priced at $15 per night on a first-come, first-served basis.
Make the most of your stay at Warm Lake with a campsite at Picnic Point, situated on a bluff overlooking the lake. Fish for cutthroat, rainbow, lake and bull trout in Warm Lake. This is a great location for off-road riders. Telephone Ridge Trail (#112) offers 20 miles of ATV/UTV trails and starts at Shoreline Campground next door. And don’t forget about the North Shore Lodge at Warm Lake where you can grab a bite to eat or stock up on supplies. Eight sites, $15 per night.
Chinook Campground may be best known as the trailhead for Loon Lake, but this beautiful campground makes a great overnight getaway in the mountains. The campground sits along the Secesh River and is right in the middle of some of the area’s best hiking, mountain biking and off-road riding trails. With Warren, Burgdorf Hot Springs, and Crystal Mountain just a few miles down the road, there is plenty to keep the family entertained. Chinook Campground offers 9 campsites at $10 per night on a first-come, first-served basis.
Some of us just need to get rustic! For those looking to camp in non-developed sites (no restrooms, no potable water, no fire rings, no picnic tables), the McCall area has plenty to offer. If you are headed out into the woods for a weekend of off-the-grid camping, keep these camping etiquette tips in mind:
You have probably heard of “Leave No Trace” when it comes to anything outdoors, but what does that really mean? The Center for Outdoor Ethics promotes seven principles designed to minimize our impact and preserve our cherished outdoor spaces. The LNT philosophy does not just apply to backcountry wilderness areas, but can be used anywhere – from parks to National Forests to your own backyard.
Planning is essential for safety as well as minimizing damage to the land. If you encounter unexpected conditions, it can be easy to get into tricky situations and put both yourself and the environment at risk. Consider things like your trip expectations, the skill level of those participating, knowledge of the terrain, equipment needed, weather conditions, group size, and planned activities (including meals).
The goal is to move through and enjoy natural areas without causing damage. One of the best ways to do this is to stay on identifiable routes, roads, and trails. Surfaces like rock, sand, and gravel are much hardier than vegetation and soil. It is also best practice to camp at least 200 feet away from water.
The idea of “pack it in, pack it out” applies here, but it is more than just trash. Many people forget to pack out food waste in addition to trash, but this is especially important to carry out with you to reduce impacts on wildlife. This principle also includes human waste. In most cases, burying it six to eight inches deep and at least 200 feet away from any water source is sufficient, however in many wilderness areas you are required to pack it out along with all of your other trash.
Just like it says! Leave the rocks and trees and water as you found it. This means not digging trenches for tents, carving your initials into trees, or taking artifacts you may find. And while picking the occasional wildflower is generally fine, consider the impact before you pick…if this is a high traffic area and everyone picks a few flowers, the impact will be much more significant.
Campfires are the gold standard while camping and, in many cases, perfectly acceptable to build. Be sure to check for any fire restrictions in the area you are planning to visit and always consider how and where you build your fire. The best place to build a fire is in an existing fire ring or portable fire pan. Be sure your fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the campsite. Put fires out with water, not dirt and ensure that it is completely doused. If you hold your hand two inches from the firepit and still feel heat, you need to keep applying water and raking coals.
Considerate campers observe wildlife from afar, give animals a wide berth, store food securely, and keep garbage and food scraps away from animals. Remember that you are a visitor to their home. When hiking, keep dogs on leash or under control and minimize loud sounds (one exception is in bear country where a little noise can keep you from startling them).
In other words, be nice and show some respect! Finding solitude and enjoying the natural environment is pretty universal and keeping your impact on others in mind is key. Excessive noise, uncontrolled pets, and a lack of respect for your surroundings all detract from the experience.