Payette National Forest


A view of Twin Lakes in Payette National Forest
One of the Twin Lakes in Payette National Forest
A pack train moving in the cougar Basin area through the snow

Payette National Forest is a 2.3 million acre property in west and central Idaho. Nez Perce National Forest is to the north, Bitterroot National Forest to the northeast, Salmon-Challis National Forest to the east, Boise National Forest to the south and Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and Wallowa-Whitman National Forest to the west and northwest.

Payette National Forest contributes about 1/3 of the property contained in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the second largest wilderness area in the 48 states, but management of the wilderness is left to the staff of Salmon-Challis National Forest.

The topography of the forest ranges from deep, sharp river canyons to rugged mountain peaks with high alpine meadows, ponds and glacial cirques. All water in the area drains to either the Salmon River or the Snake River. Both rivers have cut canyons in the landscape that are deeper than the Grand Canyon but unlike the sheer cliffs of the Grand Canyon, these canyons are sloped more sharp and steep.

The vegetation includes massive numbers of wildflowers, large stands of aspen and 8 species of conifers. There are also more than 300 species of animals and birds and a significant number of fish species that are on the Endangered Animal list.

There are developed ski slopes and trails at Brundage Mountain Resort and Little Ski Hill. Further north, near Cascade, Tamarack Resort offers access to alpine and Nordic ski trails in the forest.

Around McCall there are more than 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and more than 19,000 acres of backcountry skiing. The Forest Service has also marked another 245 miles of snowmobile trails that are available for grooming.

When it comes to OHV riders in Idaho: Beware! The Idaho state legislature has enacted legislation that allows individuals to operate OHVs on Forest Service roads whether or not they have a driver's license. The Forest Service warns that it could be life-threatening should you come across other OHV riders on a trail...

Forest management is broken into 5 districts with Ranger offices in Weiser, New Meadows, Krassel, Council and McCall.

A view of Bear Lake in Payette National Forest
Bear Lake
A view of Hells Canyon in winter
Hells Canyon in winter
Map of Payette National Forest
Map of Payette National Forest
 
Photos courtesy of the US Forest Service
Map courtesy of Wikipedia userid Fredlyfish4, CCA-by-SA 3.0 License
 

Campgrounds

Council Ranger District

Campground Elevation # of Sites Notes
Big Flat Campground 4,050' 10 single, 3 double Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Accessible toilets but no accessible campsites
Cabin Creek Campground 4150' 12 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Evergreen Campground 3,650' 12 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableReservations availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Right off the highway, paved pads and spurs; biking, hiking, horseback riding but no ATVs
Huckleberry Campground 4,950' 8 single Fee siteToilets availableHandicapped AccessibilityFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Under big pines next to a small fishing stream
Lafferty Campground 4,250' 8 single Fee siteToilets availableHandicapped AccessibileFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Paved, suitable for large RVs, no hookups

Krassel Ranger District

Campground Elevation # of Sites Notes
Big Creek Campground 5,750' 4 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Staging site near Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness
Buckhorn Bar Campground 5,600' 10 single,
1 double
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Fishing and rafting on the South Fork of the Salmon River
Camp Creek Campground 4,500' 4 single Fee siteToilets availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Along the South Fork of the Salmon river in a network of hiking and equestrian trails
Four Mile Campground 4,250' 4 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Along the South Fork of the Salmon River, network of hiking and equestrian trails
Ponderosa Campground 4,050' 10 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Nest to the Secesh River with hiking trails and fishing access
Poverty Flat Campground 4,250' 8 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Paved campground along the South Fork of the Salmon River; hiking, biking, horseback riding but no OHVs

McCall Ranger District

Campground Elevation # of Sites Notes
Burgdorf Campground 6,000' 5 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Near Burgdorf Hot Springs
Chinook Campground 5,675' 9 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessiblePicnic sites available
Hiking and horseback riding but no bikes or OHVs
Jeanette Campground 6,500' 5 single,
1 double
Fee siteToilets availablePicnic sites available
Near Burgdorf Hot Springs, hiking and horseback riding but no bikes or OHVs
Kennally Creek Campground 6,000' 11 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
A lush, wet camping area near the creek, lots of wildlife
Lake Fork Campground 5,600' 9 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
On North Fork of Lake Fork, near Slick Rock climbing area and a trailhead for an extensive OHV network
Schiefer Campground 2,850' 5 single Toilets availableFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
On the South Fork of the Salmon River, trails all around, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness nearby
Upper Payette Lake Campground 5,600' 13 single,
11 double
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Most popular campground on the forest
New Meadows Ranger District
Campground Elevation # of Sites Notes
Cold Springs Campground 4,850' 24 single,
6 double,
2 group
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableReservations availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
About 3/4 mile from Lost Valley Reservoir
Grouse Campground 6,350' 16 single,
6 double,
1 group
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableReservations availableFishing available nearby
On the shore of Goose Lake
Hazard Lake Campground 7,050' 10 single,
3 double
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
On the shore of a high mountain lake, more than 20 miles of gravel road to get there
Last Chance Campground 4,650' 20 single,
3 double,
1 group
Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
On Goose Creek near Brundage Reservoir
Weiser Ranger District
Campground Elevation # of Sites Notes
Brownlee Campground 4,200' 11 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availablePicnic sites available
In tall pines on East Brownlee Creek
Justrite Campground 4,250' 4 single Toilets availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Undeveloped campsites on Mann Creek, access to miles and miles of backcountry roads and trails in the Hitt Mountains
Kiwanis Campground 4,700' 1 single Toilets availableFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
On Manns Creek, maintained by local Kiwanis Club
Mann Creek Campground 3,300' 13 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableReservations availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
On Mann Creek Reservoir
Paradise Campground 4,250' 3 single Toilets availableFishing available nearbyPicnic sites available
Undeveloped campsites on Mann Creek
Spring Creek Campground 4,750' 14 single Fee siteToilets availableDrinking water availableReservations availableHandicapped AccessibleFishing available nearbyOHV trails availablePicnic sites available
Under tall pines and firs on Spring Creek, about 15 miles from Mann Creek Reservoir