Blessings of the Wild
Camping in and around the Wood River Valley
PHOTO AND WORDS BY DAVID STILWILL
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” –John Muir
The Wood River Valley offers residents and visitors alike a perfect place to enjoy a tremendous variety of camping options. Whether you choose to camp in a tent, a trailer or an RV, there is truly something for everyone.
The great blessings of our wild surroundings are one of the many reasons to live in or visit the Wood River Valley. Five major mountain ranges border the area, and the high desert spills away to the south and west. Whether you choose to visit a developed campground, a dispersed site or a backpacking location, the camping opportunities available to you are as varied as the terrain. You can rush out the door to get away from it all and still be back in time to face your daily responsibilities on Monday morning—bright-eyed and with a spring in your step from having experienced the joy of overnighting outdoors.
Those interested in hiking for solitude need only load up their pack and make their way to the trailhead. Whether you’re an outdoors newbie or a grizzled mountain man, you’ll find a plethora of local trails that will take a lifetime to explore. Each time out offers new locations to discover, and you’ll find yourself daydreaming of the time when you can replenish the GORP in your pack, tighten your boots and head out again!
If you’re inclined to remain close to your cooler of beer, hot dogs, and marshmallows, there are 11 U.S. Forest Service (USFS) pay campgrounds and five picnic sites in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) north of Hailey, some of which may be reserved in advance. The sites that can be reserved (which are generally the most popular) include several on Redfish Lake, Stanley Lake, and along the Salmon River, including a handful of locations on the highway west of Stanley (approximately one hour from Hailey).
Many of these camping areas provide water and bathrooms during the season but be advised that many do not have trailer hook-ups. If a hook-up is required, be sure to double-check the available amenities of your campsite before heading out. Detailed and comprehensive information on fee locations and descriptions of areas for dispersed camping can be obtained at the USFS ranger station in Ketchum, SNRA headquarters north of Ketchum and the Stanley Ranger Station located in the Sawtooth Valley. These offices—as well as local outdoors retailers in Hailey and Ketchum—can provide information and recommendations for those interested in backpacking the local areas.
ONLINE RESOURCES TO RESEARCH YOUR LOCAL ADVENTURES
www.recreation.gov – Search “Hailey, ID”. This government site is a guide to resources from the United States Geological Survey, including sections on nature watching, boating, camping, climbing, fishing, hiking, biking and more.
www.bcrd.org –The BCRD is a local nonprofit organization “dedicated to enhancing Blaine County’s quality of life by creating healthy, active recreational opportunities for all.” The site provides information on the full range of local activities including trail maps and details for both summer and winter adventures.
www.fs.usda.gov – Sawtooth National Recreation Area – The Sawtooth National Forest is a very special place here in the heart of Idaho. We hope you will take the time to learn about this “working/producing” National Forest.