Development hinders Idaho camping, but wilderness regions exist


Hiking in Idaho’s Sawtooth Valley

There was no sign of smoke this week on two preferred hiking trails accessed from the Sawtooth Valley: Redfish Inlet and Fourth of July Lake.

There was no sign of smoke this week on two preferred hiking trails accessed from the Sawtooth Valley: Redfish Inlet and Fourth of July Lake.

My wife and I had just moved to San Francisco in 1996. San Francisco was experiencing a population surge, and we had been a element of it.

One particular morning, we had been reading in the paper about Muir Woods National Monument, which was significantly less than an hour away from our apartment. We got dressed, hopped in the automobile and headed out.

When we got to the primary parking lot, it was complete. We saw that vehicles had been parking alongside the road top into the primary lot, so we decided to head down the road and locate the nearest spot.

We drove for a lot more than a mile, and vehicles had been nevertheless lined up on the road. “This is ridiculous,” I kept saying as we passed automobile following automobile, figuring out that the farther we drove, the farther we’d have to stroll just to get back to the parking lot, only then to commence our hike into the woods. Needless to say, we turned about and went back residence. I was frustrated and disappointed.

As we drove back into the city, even though, I had an epiphany: We are element of the challenge. We had just moved to San Francisco, and we had been (unjustifiably) expecting an empty parking lot and a hike all to ourselves? About a year prior, just before our arrival in San Francisco, there would have been two fewer individuals, a single significantly less automobile on the road, two fewer guests to the park.

Such is the case with campsites at Redfish Lake, as reported this week by Nicole Blanchard in the Statesman’s Outdoors section. Reservations for the preferred campground fill up inside seconds as numerous as six months in advance. Nicole talked to some individuals who have merely offered up attempting to reserve a website.

When my wife and I 1st moved to Idaho in 2006, we asked our neighbors exactly where they liked to go camping. We could inform they had been reluctant to inform us. It is a modest (nine web pages), cozy, wooded U.S. Forest Service campground on Cascade Lake tucked away and separated from the throngs at these open-field state campgrounds.

When we 1st signed up for a website there, we had no challenge, even with just a couple of months’ notice. There had been many weekends that had been unavailable, but we had been in a position to locate a weekend that had an open website. In subsequent years, we had been in a position to reserve our favored website without having also a lot difficulty.

Then we noticed, as the years went by, that there had been fewer and fewer weekends with any open web pages. Alas, now it is essential to log in to the on the web reservation website in January to assure that you get an open weekend.

It is yet another instance of the expanding pains we’re experiencing as a state, and I do not imply to be a Debbie Downer, but it is only going to get worse. Extra individuals are moving right here, and they’re seeking to delight in our fantastic outdoors. Anytime I head out toward McCall or Sun Valley, I can not assist but assume how a lot a lot more website traffic there will be 5 or 10 years from now, how a lot tougher it is going to be to safe a campsite.

Luckily, I’ve taken to backpacking in the wilderness regions of Idaho, which are markedly a lot more secluded. But even then, trailhead parking lots are having to be complete, and alpine lakes that we had to ourselves just a couple of years ago have been “discovered” by other people, as nicely.

I guess if there’s a constructive message right here, it is that there are nevertheless lots of open spaces in Idaho, regardless of whether it is a small-identified riverside campsite along Banks-Lowman Highway or Highway 21 to Stanley or a lesser-identified alpine lake or significantly less-traveled trail close to Riggins, Idaho is nevertheless wealthy with areas exactly where you can get away for the weekend. And with areas like Hells Canyon, the Boise National Forest, Sun Valley, the Sawtooths, the Pioneers, and the Boulder-White Clouds, Idaho has no shortage of new — and secluded — areas to find out.

It may take a small a lot more time and a small a lot more work, but Idaho is the greatest spot in the nation to locate your new favored residence in the woods.

Scott McIntosh is the Opinion editor of the Idaho Statesman. You can e-mail him at [email protected] or contact him at 208-377-6202. Comply with him on Twitter @ScottMcIntosh12.


What is this column all about?

This column shares the private opinions of Idaho Statesman opinion editor Scott McIntosh on present subjects and problems in the Treasure Valley, in Idaho and nationally. It represents a single person’s opinion and is intended to spur a conversation and solicit others’ opinions on the topic. It is intended to be element of an ongoing civil discussion with the ultimate objective of delivering options to neighborhood challenges and producing this a much better spot to reside, function and play. Readers are encouraged to express their thoughts by submitting a letter to the editor. Click on “Submit a letter or opinion” at

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Normally complete of opinions and tolerant of other people, Scott McIntosh is the opinions editor for the Idaho Statesman. He has won dozens of state and national awards, like Greatest Editorial from the Idaho Press Club for 2017.


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