Updated July 2018
Idaho continues to blow my mind. How does this place exist without a bigger reputation for exploring? It really is the US’ best kept secret, but I think more need to experience the raw, wild beauty and what better way to do it than RVing or camping. Our two favorite spots are Sun Valley, Idaho and Stanley, Idaho. The following is all the information you need to know to boondock in Sun Valley, Idaho or boondock in Stanley, Idaho.
We boondocked in Sun Valley multiple times and in multiple locations. This area is very RV friendly with multiple areas to call home for 3 nights or up to 16 nights. The following is RV Information for Sun Valley, Activities in Sun Valley, Outdoor Fun in Sun Valley and Food & Beer Options in Sun Valley.
At the end we also will give information for boondocking in Stanley, Idaho. Just over an hour north on hwy 75, it’s just as beautiful, but quieter. We really didn’t give any time to Stanley last year so we thought we would spend a week up there with other nomad friends and it was incredible! Especially since we were there the week leading up to the total eclipse and we were camped on the path of totality!
Boondocking in Sun Valley, Idaho
Last year when we were in Sun Valley we didn’t boondock. We stayed at Boundary Campground, which is still dry camping but it’s $10/night. We stayed there because we were not as good at searching out boondocking spots and we had friends staying there. This year, only boondocking. There are multiple options and areas to stay in. We stayed in two this time. Lake Creek Road in Ketchum and Trail Creek Road in Sun Valley. Some of the best boondocking we came across this year!
Lake Creek Road
We stayed here for just under two weeks. Lake Creek Road is a well maintained gravel road about 3 miles north of Ketchum. After you pass some horse ranches with mansions, you will come to the national forest. There are quite a few spots right off the bat, but these are 3 day spots. As soon as you get to the corral that is where it starts the 16 day spots. After this though, I would not go much further with anything over 30′. Once you reach the parking lot for the small lake there is no room to turn around and no spots for something as big as us.
The views here though were amazing and it was quiet. As you head back to town and turn left on Hwy 75 it’s just a half mile to the paved bike path that goes all the way to Bellevue. Or if you turn right, it’s maybe 100 yards to the first mountain biking trails.
While we were here we were able to experience watching sheep being grazed and then corralled. We had to move across the road because we were right in the path that they brought in the 2,300 sheep. Our quiet little spot turned into quite an event!
The 2,300 sheep that only two Peruvians, 4 herding dogs and 1 guard dog watched over.
Some of the nicest people we have met. I wish we spoke Spanish better so we could have spoken with the sheep shepards. Sanovio was 75 from Peru, here on a three year contract to work grazing the sheep. The stories he must have.
As a pescatarian, it was at some moments, hard to watch to know what was happening after they were corralled and the trucks came to take them away. There were mixed emotions, but it was an incredible learning experience. This seemed natural, traditional. Free to roam and eat what the earth provided. They were not given anything unnatural, they were not sitting in their own filth, they were still with their young. It was definitely interesting, and even though I was sad, I learned a lot.
To watch them being corralled, click here: Sheep They were able to find the one lead sheep and the rest followed.
Trail Creek Road
Head east out of town on Sun Valley Road, this turns into Trail Creek Road. The first two miles is day use only and then you hit the boondocking. There is one road that is 3 day only, but the rest after that and all the spots on the left are 16 days. The section that we stayed on is called Antelope Creek. There are three entrances. The road from the first entrance to the second is easy to navigate. The spots look close to the cliff, but they are not too close to where it’s uncomfortable. They are all pretty narrow except for the first one (we stayed at). The first entrance has a small dip and so if you do not have high clearance you may scrape. The second and third entrances are the best but the road between these two is very sketchy. We would not take our fifth wheel on it, but people are able to get some rigs in there. The other large spot is at the beginning of the third entrance. Less sun for solar, but a decent size. We liked this area. This road is quieter than Hwy 75 and you spend less time on a gravel road. It is close to a lot of fishing, hiking and a couple miles to the paved path to take you into town. Spots past this area are beautiful as well, but the data can be iffy as you get close to the mountains. There are a couple spots right next to the stream that runs through. You can walk down to the stream from the spot we stayed in, but it is steep. It was a great size and had a bench in memory of loved ones. There were a couple minor negatives. You could hear the road noise, but no big deal. The other is that people will park right next to your rig. It was kind of odd to us, but they parked within a couple feet of the nose of our fifth wheel. I was a little thrown off at first but then I guess I hoped people thought that we were home.
Other than these two areas there is still a lot of boondocking to be had. If you head further north on Hwy 75 you will eventually hit North Fork Campground. This is also 16 days and has some really nice spots. It is also close to the dump and potable water stations at the ranger station. As you go further north from here there is still boondocking but the data soon becomes non existent. If that is no worry to you, then there are so many amazing options all the way until you get to just before the pass to head over to Stanley. Check out Campendium for reviews and spots.
RV Information for Sun Valley
After coming back for a second and third time we learned a lot more about the area and how RV friendly it is. They, of course, could be a little more, it’s not the best, but for being such a small town, it’s great.
Potable Water *Updated July 2018
Depending on which way you are coming into town there are two great options.
From the North: Turn off Hwy 75 at the Sawtooth National Forest Headquarters. Just before the North Fork Campground is an easy access area to dump and get potable water. There are two lanes. $5 honor code to pay for use.
From the South: The Hailey dump station is just past the airport on the right. Turn right at the Roberta McKercher Park. The lanes run parallel to Hwy 75. There one dump, one non potable and two potable stations. There are also public bathrooms right there as well. If you didn’t stop earlier for propane, the gas station across the road has it available.
This was a little difficult. There are no filling stations for filtered water. We found that we could go to Atkinson’s and right next to the coffee shop there was a water fountain with filtered water. We used that and when it wasn’t busy, the deli always filled our filtered water jug.
It was expensive in this area! The best spot that we found was Philips in Bellevue. It’s worth the extra drive and that is also where the cheapest gas is.
Coordinates: 43.457449, -114.257647
Dumping *Updated July 2018
See Potable Water above.
There are a few options if you are willing to go to Hailey. Hailey has Albertons, Atkinsons and Natural Grocers.
Ketchum has Atkinsons and Village Market. Although Atkinsons is a bit expensive, they have some great products.
If you run out of food for fido, there isn’t a lot unless a grocery store carries your brand. We ended up having to stop in at Thunderpaws Pet Shoppe. They were very nice about figuring out what food they had that would be as close to the food we normally gave our dogs. Not overly priced either, we were happy that they were around.
If you want to give your pup a wash, there is a laundromat that also has a dog wash. Laundromutt. Expensive, but probably the nicest in town.
Address: 220 Lewis Street, Unit 1, Ketchum, ID 83340
Garbage *Updated 2018
I don’t know if it was because we were there during the time around the total eclipse but there were multiple city dumpsters. I seem to remember that it was like that last year as well. You can just take your trash to any of them. They are really all over the place. This kept the streets and camping areas quite clean.
*The large dumpster for trash and cardboard are still readily available to throw trash. The easiest location is over by the YMCA.
As mentioned above, Laundromutt was where most of us went. Slightly more expensive than normal, but it got the job done. The driers were not the best and a quarter was only 4-5 minutes.
Address: 220 Lewis Street, Unit 1, Ketchum, ID 83340
There are other options in town and in Hailey. Let us know if you have tried one that was better. We will update!
Outdoor Fun In Sun Valley, Idaho
There are so many trails of all abilities in this area. I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. For hikes in the area read our post about Hiking in Ketchum (Sun Valley), Idaho.
If you love fly fishing this is the place for you. Rivers run everywhere and are full of trout. You do need a fishing license, but I hear it’s easy to do a day pass. Our friends caught some beautiful and yummy fish!
Some of the best mountain biking in the west. Beautiful trails and again, there are trails for all abilities. You can head right from town to some of them. Adams Gulch, Eve’s Gulch, Lake Creek Trail, the list goes on.
This is a popular area for this. The roads are well maintained and if you want to do some elevation and climbing just head north of 75. You have a beautiful pass to go over and then you can end in Stanley. You can get 10 miles or 100 miles in. There is also a paved bike trail that goes from just north of Sun Valley all the way to Bellevue. About 20 miles one way it parallels the highway. This is also perfect for a run.
This seems to be the new craze, or I am just way behind. Over Labor Day weekend there is a huge 50 and 100 mile cyclocross race. We had a friend participating in Rebecca’s Private Idaho so we thought we would stay in the area and volunteer. This race headed out of town on Sun Valley Road towards a huge climb and miles of gravel road. We had a great time volunteering and the participants seemed happy with the race and of course the views are out of this world!
*Updated July 2018 Trail Running/Running
It goes without saying that there are plenty of trails in Sun Valley. I recently started trail running and realized how great these trails are for training or leisurely running. You are welcome on any of the mountain biking trails and you do have the right of way, except to horses. I, however, try to be the one to move since it’s easier for me to go a little off the trail or stop.
For a long run, you can take the Harriman Trail which starts in Galena and ends at the Sawtooth National Forest Headquarters. You get a little of everything, single, double, gravel, path, rock, bridge to run. It’s 19 miles one way. If you prefer paved and only 14 miles, you can take the Wood River Trail from Sun Valley to Hailey. Paved the entire way, but if you feel like you want to go all the way to Bellevue you can, but the trail isn’t paved.
For more trails I would check out the hiking ones we did (Hiking in Ketchum (Sun Valley), Idaho), or just step out your door and look for a trail head. They are all over!
Activities In Sun Valley, Idaho
Just a short drive from town to the west, these hot springs had multiple pools of different degrees. A couple were too hot, but most were perfect for relaxing.
There is always something going on in this town. From Orchestra week, to ice skating, ballet, music and a wagon parade. Make sure to check out the towns website for events.
Our favorite was Orchestra week. I think it’s longer than a week, maybe almost a month. It’s a big production and there are about 3 to 4 shows a week. An hour each showing, they bring in musicians and conductors from all over the US. All donated by individuals, it was amazing! Sit outside, bring a beverage or a chair for the lawn and listen to some amazing music that you might not normally enjoy.
Food & Beer in Sun Valley, Idaho
For being such a small town, there are quite a few good places to eat and drink! Here are our suggestions and favorites.
A Taste of Thai (Awesome, awesome lunch specials.)
Address: 380 1st Ave N, Ketchum, ID 83340
Address: 631 Warm Springs Rd, Ketchum, ID 83340
Address: 460 Washington Ave, Ketchum, ID 83340
Address: 231 Main St S, Ketchum, ID 83340
Address: 180 Main St S, Ketchum, ID 83340
We did not have any luck with any of the Mexican restaurants in town or pizza. There is a rawfood place in town but it was definitely over priced for what you got. Next time we are there, we do want to try one of the Italian restaurants.
Boondocking and RV Information for Stanley, Idaho
The night skies were some of the best in Stanley. I couldn’t believe it!
There is so much boondocking in Stanley. So many National Forest Roads and campgrounds. It just depends on what you want to be close to. Red Fish Lake, Stanley Lake, Stanley town, etc. Again, check out Campendium to find all the spots.
RV Information for Stanley, Idaho
Bring enough filtered water, or be willing to buy a gallon jug or water bottles at the local market.
Potable water and dump are at the Sawtooth NRA Dump Station.
Coordinates: 44.1811, -114.929
Grocery Store and Liquor – Mountain Village Mercantile. These guys had a decent selection of food and liquor. They also had some random stuff that a lot of the big stores do not. Example: Taziki sauce and guava Bundaberg.
Address: 5 Eva Falls Ave, Stanley, ID 83278
Pizza – Papa Brunees. Decent pizza and beer on draft. Prices are good along with the pizza!
Address: 37 Ace of Diamonds St, Stanley, ID 83278
Laundry: I think the only laundry was at Redfish Lodge. If you can, just wait until your next stop. It will be worth it.
Outdoor Fun In Stanley, Idaho
The majority of activities in Stanley are outside. Hiking, biking, boating, kayaking, SUPing, horseback riding, etc. There were trails and gravel roads everywhere. We did mostly hiking. I wanted to do more but we had to leave some for next time.
Hiking in Stanley, Idaho
Hiking, oh the hiking to be had. We did three great hikes. A hike to Sawtooth & Alpine Lakes, Goat Lake and Alice Lake
Some of the best hiking we did all year and each was done with friends.
Beautiful Lakes of Stanley, Idaho
There were so many beautiful lakes in the area. You can read our previous post about the lakes that we made it to: The Beautiful Lakes of Stanley
Take some time for each lake. Overnight if you can, it will be worth it. Unfortunately we missed Imogen Lake, which was number one on our list but the most intense of adventures getting to. Let us know if you have gone and what you think!
Path of Totality
We specifically chose this spot because of where it was on the path of totality and that it could fit around 15 RVs. 15 RVs got together and had what some called an “adult camp” for a week leading up to the eclipse.
Hiking, biking, SUPing, lazy days at the beach, lock picking class, leather work, playing with dogs, stitching, baking and so much more. This was one of the best weeks we had in our 18 months on the road! This community is great!
Then the day of the Total Eclipse.
Here is a video of the week that our friends over at Team Burho (TeamBurho) put together. Definitely check it out!
This was a moment I never in my life anticipated. I was truly underwhelmed leading up to it. I didn’t get it, I didn’t really care about it. I was more interested in meeting new nomads and seeing old friends. Then the day came. Can you imagine the sun setting at 11:00 a.m. and a chill taking over the warm air? Can you imagine complete darkness for 2 minutes while the sun shines around the moon? I could not. The activity in camp before totality, was people milling around, making drinks, setting up cameras and eating whatever snacks were on the community table. People started out together and then started spreading out. You would see people check the partial totality here and there and then continue on socializing. Posing for pictures, trying to figure out where the best spot would be.
Then totality. No one said a word and then there were gasps, tears of amazement and multiple multiple wow’s.
What was it about this that could make people cry and completely stop in their tracks?
The quickest two minutes, it really felt like 10 seconds and it was over. I can’t explain the feeling. What could be a once in a lifetime experience. Especially experiencing it with good friends. There was a lot of smoke in the area due to the wild fires in Oregon and Montana, but that Monday, August 21, 2017 it was as clear as clear could be. Two days later the smoke was back and the sky was filled with clouds.
I can not suggest more to people to be on the path of totality in 2024. Don’t pay the silly stupid prices people are charging. Find a remote spot to enjoy it. To soak in every second you are given to experience this phenomenon.
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9 thoughts on “Boondocking in Sun Valley, Idaho”
Idaho was great. We will be back.
You got my feelings on Totality as well.
Before: Meh. Gonna get dark, happens every night.
During: Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow.
After: We need to be at the next one.
I’m glad we got to share it with you guys!
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Us too! So happy that you guys were there. Let’s plan 2024!
Great post! Thanks for all the great pictures and added video, drone footage, etc. Beautiful place…a fun crowd… I almost felt like I was back there with you!
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Oh my gosh and goodness!! I can NOT wait for our first boondocking spot! This place looks gorgeous!!
wow, it looks like there so much to do there! I wanna go now! Thanks for the tips and inspiration
Thanks, great info and well written. It makes me want to head out today! I built out a school bus (shorty) and need a local trip soon. I didn’t read much in your musings about how welcome your dog was. Too often I have to skip an area because it’s dog restrictions are too strict or they aren’t welcome at all. If you could include some dog info that’d sure help me decide where I end up. Thanks again! Travel safe!
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I definitely will add dog friendly info. I usually tag it but good idea to write more or show pics. Thanks!!
Glad you enjoyed Idaho. Lived here all my life & there’s so much to experience. We watched the ’17 eclipse in Mackay, loved it so much that we are going to rent a motorhome to chase the next one in 2024.
Yes, we definitely enjoyed it! We love your state like a second home. That sounds like a great idea for 2024! It was an experience like no other. Maybe we will see you on the road!