Sawtooth National Recreation Area

Camping
Gorp.com
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Family camping attracts more recreationists to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area than any other single activity.

There are developed campgrounds along the Salmon River in the Stanley, Redfish, and Alturas Lake areas and in the Wood River Valley. These sites all provide individual units and parking spurs, water, tables, fireplaces and cooking grills, garbage collection, toilets and regular Forest Service patrol. All campgrounds are maintained and most have either an on-site L&L, manager or volunteer campground host.

Trailer hookups and showers are available in commercial RV parks. The area has a limited number of campgrounds that can accommodate RV's longer than 22 feet.

All developed sites charge a fee. However, the SNRA does not charge fees early or late in the season when campgrounds are open but no services are provided fees. Groups of 25 people or more require a special use permit.

Both Golden Age and Golden Access Passports are honored at all campgrounds. These entitle holders to a 50 percent discount on fees.

Firewood is sold by the concessionaire for a minimal fee, or campers can gather firewood for camp use. Removal of firewood from the Forest requires a special permit.

Camping outside of developed campgrounds is allowed with some restrictions. Such camping is prohibited in the Alturas Lake and Redfish Lake areas and is discouraged near all other developed campgrounds.

Campers in undeveloped areas are asked to stay on existing roads, pack out trash and pay special attention to sanitation. If you use a campfire, it should be built in an existing ring. During high-risk seasons, undeveloped camping areas may be closed to campfires.

Stanley Lake Area
Stanley Lake is located in the northwest corner of the NRA, and is a favorite spot for fishing and boating. The Stanley Lake Overlook offers a vantage point for viewing McGowan Peak, which seems to rise right out of the lake. Access into the lake is via a rough gravel road through mountain meadows.

Redfish Lake Area
Redfish Lake is named for the brilliant red sockeye salmon that historically came to the lake in massive quantities to spawn. This is the most highly developed lake within the NRA, with Redfish Lake Lodge, marina, grocery store, Redfish Visitor Center, a backpackers trailhead, a boat launch facility and a dump station all nearby. Nearby, Little Redfish Lake offers spectacular views of Mt. Heyburn and the Sawtooths. Motorboats aren't allowed on this lake, so the area is much quieter.

Salmon River Canyon
Floatboating and fishing are favorite activities in this section of the Salmon River. Other attractions along the river include hot springs for soaking, access roads to the White Cloud Mountains, and historical areas like Yankee Fork Dredge, five miles off the highway at Sunbeam Dam.

Alturas Lake Area
Alturas Lake welcomes picnicking, camping, fishing and other water sport activities. An old mining road in the area is a good trail for mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders.

Pettit Lake offers more water recreation opportunities, and the Tin Cup trailhead is a main access point for hikers and horseback riders entering the Sawtooth Wilderness. The entrance into Pettit Lake is rough dirt road and not recommended for RVs.

Wood River Corridor
The North Fork of the Big Wood River, seven miles north of Ketchum, is the southernmost boundary of the Sawtooth NRA. The Wood River Corridor provides the first impression of the NRA for most visitors, and many people picnic and camp in the area just to fish. Groceries and other supplies are available nearby.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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