This year is turning out to be a great one for some Memorial Day weekend camping. Here in North Idaho, we are blessed to have hundreds if not thousands of campgrounds, RV parks, cabins and more where you can get out and enjoy the beauty of Northern Idaho in a variety of settings. It’s hard to choose just a select few to talk about, but I am going to stick to some of the most scenic and memorable sites I’ve visited in our area:
Bumblebee – Located 38 miles from Coeur d’Alene Bumblebee campground lies between Bumblebee Creek and the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. The campground is comprised of two campground loops with 25 sites throughout. The roads are all paved and the parking is made of seal-coated gravel so you don’t have to worry about messing up a nice vehicle parking here. Every site has a fire-pit set up and there is potable water and vault toilets throughout. Bumblebee is great if you like to camp in close proximity to other groups. There are always lots of people floating the river from Bumblebee, so this site can get pretty crowded during the summer. I love Bumblebee because there are a variety of things to do here. You can fish, swim, camp and kayak in style, and the closest town, Kingston, is not too far away if you end up forgetting something important.
DIRECTIONS: Take the Kingston Exit of Interstate 90 and go north on Forest Road #9 for 5 miles. Turn east on FR 209 and travel 3 miles to the site.
Devil’s Elbow – This campsite is a farther distance from Coeur d’Alene but the sites are worth it. 68 miles from Coeur d’Alene, Devil’s Elbow is perched on the banks of the North Fork of the CDA river. The area is located among peaks of the Cascade Mountains, so the scenery and wildlife that can be found here are tremendous. If you have a large group you are bringing to the area for camping, Devil’s Elbow is an excellent choice. The group site here can accommodate 50 people, multiple cars and has fire pits within the site. Amenities include hand pump water, restrooms, vault toilets and paved roads leading up to the site. It is not uncommon to see moose, deer, osprey and hummingbirds and more during your visit. Devil’s Elbow allows for fishing, swimming and kayaking among the North Fork river.
DIRECTIONS: From I-90, take Exit 43 (Kingston) and travel 20 miles north on FH9 to Prichard. Continue 11 miles north on Forest Road 208 to the campground.
Trapper Creek – Trapper Creek is located along the northeast shore of upper Priest Lake. Priest Lake is about two hours from Coeur d’Alene and is one of my favorite summer camping sites. Throughout the lake you will find 150 different camp sites, Trapper Creek being one of the smaller, more delicate sites. Trapper Creek has five different camp sites, each with beautiful views of Plowboy Mountain. Each furnished with fire rings, picnic tables, and bear-proof storage bins. This campground also has no fee! To access the campground you have to do a short, easy hike which takes you into the secluded camping area. From the site and all along the lake, you can find numerous hiking trails that provide some of the best views in all of North Idaho. Boating is also very popular on Priest Lake. It’s medium large size allows for all kinds of water activities; water-skiing, wake boarding, tubing, paddle boarding and more are all available to do on Priest Lake.
DIRECTIONS: Northeast end of Upper Priest Lake, accessible by boat or trail.
Emerald Creek – The St. Joe river is one of the jewels of North Idaho, and for good reason. Incredible landscape, intense white-water rafting possibilities and an abundance of wildlife make this area a nature lovers dream. Emerald Creek features 18 camp sites, potable water and vault toilets. The Emerald Creek Garnet Area is also just a short drive form the camp sites, where for a small fee one can dig for gem quality star garnets. Fishing access is available at Emerald Creek along with picnic sites, OHV riding trails and scenic drives from the St. Maries river and along the St. Joe. This is also a free site, no reservations needed!
DIRECTIONS: Drive 25 miles south of St. Maries on State Highway 3, then turn right on Road #447, travel approximately 6 miles to the Emerald Creek Campground.
Whiskey Bay Rock Campground – This campground is located on Lake Pend Orielle, the largest lake in the Northern Idaho Panhandle. The lake reaches depths of 1,150 feet in some areas, making it the fifth deepest in the United States. Lake Pend Orielle is a beautiful area, with grey wolves, white-tailed deer, moose, squirrels, black and grizzly bears, coyotes and bobcats it has some of the most diverse and largest amount of wildlife in Northern Idaho. The lake is also home to many species of fish, including Rainbow trout, lake trout, perch, large and small-mouth bass and northern pike. Boating is popular here, and at the Whiskey Bay Rock campground, 3 of the 9 sites are on the lake. The others are just a short walk down to the beach areas. The camp sites feature potable water, fire rings, vault toilets, a dock and swimming beach. Whiskey Bay Rock also is a free campground.
By road: From Clark Fork drive south on Road 278 (Johnson Creek Road) and continue 30 miles to the site.
By boat: The site is located on the west shore of Pend Oreille Lake about 10 miles south of Garfield Bay.