Boise National Forest

Boiling Springs Campground, Boise National Forest

Boise National Forest contains some 2,612,000 acres in central Idaho, north and east of the city of Boise. Elevations on the forest run from a low of about 2,600' to a high of about 9,800'. The forest is comprised mostly of the mountainous landscape of the Idaho Batholith, a very large and easily eroded chunk of ancient rock (obviously, from all the faulting, uplifting and stream cutting that happened here over the millenia).

Most of the tree cover at the Boise National Forest is conifer, including Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, grand fir, whitebark pine and western larch. For big game you'll find mule deer, elk, black bear and grizzly bear. In some areas there might be bighorn sheep, in other areas pronghorn. You'll find native trout in most of the lakes and streams. You'll also find steelhead trout and ocean-going salmon in the Salmon River and some of its tributaries.

Boise National Forest is the recreational backyard for the city of Boise, and Mountain Home, Idaho City, Cascade, Emmett and Lowman. This is where the local folks go to escape the valley heat and city crowds. This is where they find lush green mountains, arid, rolling landscapes, vast reservoirs, alpine lakes, hot spring pools and raging whitewater streams. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, ATV-riding, swimming, horseback-riding...until winter comes and the skis, snowshoes and snowmobiles come out to play.

In 1908, Boise National Forest was created out of sections of the Payette and Sawtooth Forest Reserves. The first forest supervisor was Emil Grandjean.

Cascade Lake in the winter
Cascade Lake on a winter's day
  Photos are courtesy of the US Forest Service  


There are 70 developed campgrounds and picnic areas on Boise National Forest, some of which ofter some amount of universal accessibility. Some areas even have rustic cabins for rent. There are also several group campgrounds, most of which require reservations.

The Emmett Ranger District encompasses 350,000 acres of National Forest with more than 150 camping units in 21 developed campgrounds. There are additional dispersed camping opportunities and some of these even include a few facilities such as toilets and unloading ramps. There are 3 cabins that are available for rental, with one cabin available throughout the year. There are many hot springs across the district, and five of these are found near established trails and campgrounds. The Forest Service maintains more than 150 miles of trails for motorized and non-motorized use. The on-going Payette River Project includes many rapids and river access sites with toilet and trash facilities that enhance an already world-renowned whitewater boating experience.

Cascade Ranger District

  • Shoreline Campground
  • Amanita Campground
  • French Creek Campground
  • Rainbow Point Campground
  • Picnic Point Campground
  • South Fork Salmon River Campground
  • Summit Lake Campground
  • Warm Lake Campground
  • Trout Creek Campground
  • Buck Mountain Campground
  • Pen Basin Campground
  • Yellow Pine Campground
  • Golden Gate Campground
  • Ice Hole Campground

Emmett Ranger District

  • Antelope Campground
  • Big Eddy Campground
  • Canyon Creek Campground
  • Cartwright Ridge Campground
  • Antelope Annex Campground
  • Boiling Springs Campground
  • Cold Springs Campground
  • Eastside Campground
  • Hardscrabble Campground
  • Hollywood Campground
  • Hot Springs Campground
  • Rattlesnake Campground
  • Sagehen Creek Campground
  • Sagehen Dam Picnic Area
  • Silver Creek Campground
  • Swinging Bridge Campground
  • Tie Creek Campground
  • Trail Creek Campground

Idaho City Ranger District

  • Ten Mile Campground
  • Bad Bear Campground
  • Grayback Gulch Campground
  • Bald Mountain Campground
  • Black Rock Campground
  • Edna Creek Campground
  • Graham Bridge Campground
  • Johnson Creek Campground
  • Whoop-em-up Equestrian Campground
  • Willow Creek Campground (Idaho City)
  • Power Plant Campground
  • Queen's River Campground
  • Riverside Campground (Idaho City)
  • Neinmeyer Campground

Lowman Ranger District

  • Bonneville Campground
  • Mountain View Campground
  • Helende Campground
  • Pine Flats Campground
  • Kirkham Campground
  • Bull Trout Lake Campground
  • Park Creek Campground
  • Grandjean Campground
  • Deadwood Campground
  • Barney's Campground
  • Cozy Cove Campground
  • Howers Campground
  • Riverside Campground (Lowman)
  • Bear Valley Campground
  • Deer Flat Campground

Mountain Home Ranger District

  • Badger Creek Campground
  • Cottonwood Campground
  • Troutdale Campground
  • Willow Creek Campground (Mountain Home)
  • Shafer Butte Campground
  • Big Roaring River Lake Campground
  • Big Trinity Lake Campground
  • Castle Creek Campground
  • Curlew Creek Campground
  • Dog Creek Campground
  • Elks Flat Campground
  • Evans Creek Campground
  • Ice Springs Campground
  • Little Roaring River Lake Campground
  • Pine Campground
  • Spillway Campground
  • Tailwaters Campground