Camping is one of my favorite things to do in the summer and ever since I moved to Boise, I’ve been trying to plan as many trips as I can while I’m not crossing off my Boise Bucket List in the city. There are SO many camp grounds in Idaho and so many close to Boise that it’s hard to pick where to go! Since I ended up having one last weekend where I felt like I wouldn’t freeze to death while camping (mid-September), my boyfriend and I decided to find a new campground neither of us had been to. We also wanted to fish, so we tried for somewhere with either a stream or a lake.
We ended up choosing Deadwood Reservoir, a man made lake and dam, literally in the middle of nowhere Idaho. This is a fantastic location for fishing, boating, water skiing, and of course, hiking.
It was a great choice and I’m so glad we went. Here’s some tips from what we learned on our adventure…
Deadwood Reservoir Camping Tips
DRIVING TO DEADWOOD:
On Google Maps, the drive from Boise to Deadwood Reservoir says it’s about 3 hours total and 2 of these hours would be on a windy dirt road. That sounded terrible to me and we almost opted out of going to Deadwood altogether because of the dirt road driving (I hate driving on dirt roads), but I’m SO glad we didn’t back out!
The drive actually only took us a total of 2 hours from my house in downtown Boise to the first campsite at the reservoir and the one we chose, Cozy Cove Campground. We drove like we were going up to McCall on state highway 55 and then took a right at Banks Lowman turn-off onto state highway 17 and drove until we saw the sign for Deadwood Reservoir (that’s where the dirt road starts on the left).
Not only were the dirt roads not too bad (only the first 10 mins was it kinda bad), but the views along the road are spectacular! At some points you’re driving along mountain ridges and can see a lot of the different Idaho mountain ranges in the distance. I couldn’t believe it and made my boyfriend stop many times on the way for photos.
We ended up leaving Friday after both of us had work and got out of town around 5pm. We ended making it to the campsite around 7/730pm and made it just in time for the sunset over the Deadwood Reservoir and still had daylight to set up our camp. I do recommend taking a car with 4-wheel drive, like a truck even though we didn’t really use the 4 wheel too much.
There are bunch of different campgrounds around the Deadwood Reservoir and some really great spots to choose from. We went in shoulder season so we didn’t book a camp spot ahead of time (there were a lot to choose from). If you’re going in high-season June-August, you might want to research if the campgrounds around Deadwood need to be reserved. It costed us $12 for our campsite. I’d check here to see if spots are available when you want to go.
Since we got there right as the sun was setting, we opted to go to the first campground, Cozy Cove Campground. We easily found a spot right on the reservoir, close to the bathrooms and no one else was around. Our campground number was #9 if you want to copy when you decide to go! We also drove around the reservoir and found a lot more campsites. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
This was an amazing camping area that had everything we needed, including a picnic table and a fire ring. There were Vault toilets on site and drinking water was available throughout the campground. The whole campground was well-maintained thanks to the forest service and camp host.
We ended up camping in the middle of September, so we made sure we were prepared with extra clothing and blankets. There was a fire ban, so we couldn’t have a fire, but we were still able to stay warm! For my full list of what to pack for camping in Idaho go here.
One of the main reasons we chose Deadwood Reservoir was the proximity to the Deadwood Hot Springs and then we didn’t even go. Such a bummer! I’m hoping next time we can hike through the Boise National Forest and have a nice soak. I’m hoping next time we can hike back and have a nice soak. Here’s the instructions on how to get there and it looks like it takes about 3 miles to get there and 3 miles to hike out. Make sure to save this before you lose service in the mountains.
Deadwood Reservoir also has a dam that you can walk across and get some great views of the reservoir and the Deadwood river below! The river is a 43.5-mile branch of the South Fork Payette River, which flows through Boise National Forest.
If you’re planning on fishing at the reservoir, be sure to get a Fishing License and pack your fishing poles! This is a great spot for fishing Atlantic chinook and kokanee salmon. You will also find rainbow and cutthroat trout here. I saw a few people who had brought their fishing boats as they do have a boat ramp located on-site. But I would highly recommend waiters or float tubes if you want to catch some fish! Here’s a good guide on what fish Deadwood has and what limits they have per fish.
Welcome to the Traveling Spud! I’m Katie, a 30 something from Idaho who quit her marketing job in San Francisco, California to travel the world for a year. After a trip around the world, my heart chose Idaho. I'm addicted to outdoor adventures, photography, and inspiring others to get out of their comfort zones and cross experiences off of their bucket lists. Let's explore together! Read more here.