4 Unique Idaho Camping Experiences

A peaceful spot located on Sand Creek, in Sandpoint, Idaho

Living in Idaho affords us the opportunity to explore vast tracts of wild country, including the largest wilderness area in the lower 48, the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area (2.3 millions acres). Planning a nature vacation is as simple as looking in our own backyard. 

While the summer season has come to a close, Fall has incredible weather for camping. There’s plenty of time to get out there and do some serious exploring before the first flakes of snow descend from the sky. If you’re looking to experience something other than the traditional campsite and campfire, we’ve put together a small collection of unique camping adventures available right here in the Gem State. 


Stargaze Yurt near Idaho City offers awesome views of the Payette River Canyon and Sawtooth Mountains.

Domed animal skin-laden shelters like these have been used for thousands of years. Luckily for you, you don’t have to hunt and skin deer to make one for yourself. Modern versions of these shelters usually feature tarp coverings, a propane stove, and a plexiglass dome for stargazing from the comfort of a warm bed. 

The nice thing about yurts is their availability year round. Spring, summer, and fall camping in a yurt is great, and there’s something really satisfying about cozying up with some friends and loved ones in a yurt during the frigid winter months when the ground outside is blanketed in snow. 

The closest Yurts to the Boise area are located at Bogus Basin or near Idaho City up Highway 21, and there’s yurts further up the highway near Lowman and even some up in the scenic Sawtooth Range, or just south of the mountains at Smiley Creek Lodge. There’s also yurt rentals available up Highway 55 near Cascade and McCall.

Fire Lookouts

The majestic view from Arid Peak Lookout in the St. Joe National Forest in Northern Idaho.

Long before satellites used high-tech imaging to detect wildfires, observers in fire lookouts kept a watchful eye over the surrounding forests, reporting smoke sightings to wildland firefighters. Due to modern technology these wilderness towers are all but obsolete. However, some ingenious entrepreneurs realized they make unique lodging for wilderness lovers. 

Many of these lookouts are located in northern Idaho and must be accessed via a hiking trail, so you’ll need to pack in your supplies and creature comforts. The closest lookout to Boise, however, is the Deadwood Lookout cabin in Garden Valley and is directly accessible via roadway. 

If you’re wanting to experience a night or extended stay in these scenic spots, you’ll have to book them in advance. Booking dates are reserved quickly, so check for availability sooner than later at Recreation.gov


Teepee camping is available at Smiley Creek Lodge just south of the Sawtooth Range. 

These shelters and living spaces were used by some indegenoius peoples, like those of the Shoshone tribe which occupied parts of what is now Idaho. The Shoshone were able to take down, transport, and erect these shelters with much less difficulty than fixed structures as they migrated between seasonal camps. 

While the teepees made today certainly lack the authenticity of a true native build, outdoor lovers can rent similar shelters in places like Smiley Creek Lodge just south of the Sawtooth Range, about two-and-a-half hours from Boise via Highway 21, or Wagonhammer RV & Campground located north of Salmon via the same highway. 

A night or two in a teepee is a great way to appreciate the native heritage of Idaho and the survival techniques natives passed from generation to generation. 

Tent Glamping

Glamping in a tent like this one is a far cry from traditional tent camping. 

If tent camping conjures images of cramped spaces, smelly sleeping bags, and cold, sleepless nights, then you clearly haven’t experienced the luxuries of tent glamping. In contrast to a standard camping tent pitched on the rocky ground, glamping tents are usually built with hardwood flooring, comfortable pillow top beds, wood stoves, chairs and a table, and are covered with moisture-proof canvas. 

These sites are available in the spring, summer, and fall, and reservations fill pretty quickly. If you’re interested in elevated tent camping, sites are available at River Dance Lodge in Kooskia, about four-and-a-half hours north of Boise. There’s also several spots in Eastern Idaho near the Teton Range: Moose Creek Ranch and Linn Canyon Ranch. There’s also this Arabian-themed spot in Irwin in the same area. These are all about a five hour drive from Boise. 

We hope you found this article helpful and inspiring. There’s lots of unique camping adventures to explore in our beautiful state. If there’s an experience we didn’t cover, that’s one of your favs, let us know. Our community loves swapping info with other adventurers and learning from each other.