Today we will be traveling about one to three
hours from Boise, Idaho north along Highway 55 to the very small community of Banks, and
then on the Middle Fork Payette River. Although small, Banks is a major access point
for whitewater rafting and kayaking where the North Fork and the South Fork of the Payette
River merge. Both private and commercial rafters launch
from this site to enjoy a few hour trip on the river encountering mostly class one and
two rapids. Turning east at Banks, we will then follow
Highway 17, also known as the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, 9 miles to the turnoff of the
Middle Fork of the Payette River road heading to Crouch.
Crouch is a small historic town located next to the Middle Fork of the Payette River. It
is home to several businesses, restaurants, and shops all within walking distance of each
other. From Crouch we travel north along Forest road
698 known as the Middle Fork Payette River Road, and discover seven campgrounds and one
cabin all located within a beautiful forest canopy. Many of the campsites are nestled
next to a creek or river providing optimal trout fishing opportunities.
Traveling ten miles north of Crouch, we arrive at the first campground, Tie Creek Campground.
It has eight sites and can accommodate recreation vehicles up to 35 feet in length. The campground
is not on the reservation system and is first come, first served. It is a very peaceful
setting under a mixed ponderosa pine forest with plenty of fishing, hunting or site seeing
opportunities. “We like coming up here to ride four wheelers
and it is close to town so we can come up on the weekends. We like to go swimming and
let the kids play in the creek.” “That you can sleep in a camper and a tent.”
Next just a mile further is Hardscrabble Campground. It only has six sites all of which can accommodate
vehicles up to 30 feet in length. There is no drinking water available.
The campground is also on a first come, first served basis. Nearby trails offer plenty of
huckleberries to gather in August. Continuing another few miles we arrive at
the Rattlesnake Campground. With nine single sites and one double site. The entire campground
can be reserved as a large accessible group site. The group site can accommodate up to
100 people. Ten parking spurs are available for an RV up to75 feet in length and this
is a great place to have a family reunion. Trail Creek Campground is just a short 4 miles
from Rattlesnake Campground. With 11 sites and RV access of 35 feet, this campground
lies at the intersection of Forest road 698 and 671. It is is not on the reservation system
and is first come, first served. There are lots of birds, chipmunks and butterflies to
enjoy watching. Forest road 671 road is a good choice and
the shorter route to the Silver Creek Campground, Peace Valley Campground or the Silver Creek
Plunge if that is your destination. Today we continue our journey north along
the Middle Fork of the Payette Forest road 698 to our next stop the Boiling Springs Campground
and Cabin. The Boiling Springs Campground has 9 units
and a maximum RV length of 30 feet. There is drinking water, a swimming area, and hiking
trails that lead to several hot springs. The campground is not on the reservation system
and is first come, first served. “I like sleeping in tents. I like just listening
to the river flow when I am like laying in bed. Kind of like sooths your mind, do you
know what I mean?” The Middle Fork of the Payette River is often
enjoyed by tubers and rafters on hot summer days. There are plenty of nearby trails open
to motorized and non-motorized users. Be sure to obtain a free motor vehicle use map from
either the Boise National Forest web page or at a ranger station.
The Boiling Springs Cabin is available by reservation only at www.recreation.gov and
is a popular destination for those who enjoy soaking in mineral hot springs. The cabin
is accessible by car in the summer months and by snowmobile in the winter.
Constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the two room cabin sleeps up to six
people and was originally used to watch for wildfires. The cabin has drinking water and
a vault toilet. Guests will need to bring some supplies and equipment to ensure a comfortable
and enjoyable stay. In 2003 the Boise National Forest cut a beautiful
seventy foot Engelmann spruce in from of the cabin which was delivered to the nation’s
capital. From Boiling Springs Campground, we now travel
east on Forest road 678 past the turnoff to the Silver Creek Lookout, which can be visited
and head south on Forest read 671 arriving at the Peace Valley Campground.
This campground is a beautiful peaceful group site. The five campsites are arranged in an
extended circle and can accommodate up to 50 people. There is a small picnic shelter,
parking spurs for vehicles 30 feet in length, a vaulted toilet and drinking water.
Our last stop along the Forest road 671 is the Silver Creek Campground. This large fully
accessible campground has 57 sites and includes two large group sites. It was totally reconstructed
in 2010 and now offers a paved road and parking spurs, drinking water, and vault toilets.
The two large group sites include Lodgepole Springs which can accommodate up to 80 people,
and the Cabin Creek site which can accommodate up to 100 people.
Campsites are next to Silver Creek and there is plenty of ATV riding, hiking and fish opportunities.
Another favorite attraction adjacent to Silver Creek Campground is the Silver Creek Plunge.
It is a privately owned and developed hot springs resort with a large pool, horseshoes,
volleyball, basketball, a snack bar and grocery area and campsites.
With the exception of Tie Creek, Hardscrabble, Trail Creek and Boiling Springs Campgrounds
reservations for the other campgrounds and cabin are available are available through:
www.recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Further information is available by calling
Boise National Forest at area code 208-373-4007.