Without a doubt one of my favorite places in Idaho is the area around the world famous Silver Creek area near Picabo Idaho! Two reasons for that really, the world class fishing and the free camping.
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game provides 4 dry camping sites in the area that put you up close and personal to some of the best trout fishing in America. Silver Creek and the Silver Creek Preserve operated by The Nature Conservancy are some of the most written about areas in popular fishing magazines and web sites.
Heyspur Fish Hatchery
But this is about the free dry camping in the area and I’ll share a little history about the area.
We start at where I am staying at the Heyspur Fish Hatchery.
Hayspur State Fish Hatchery is located on Loving Creek in Blaine County near Picabo, Idaho. Hayspur Hatchery was the first Idaho hatchery and was built in 1907. Egg collection from broodstock dates back to 1910. During the summer it distributes catchable rainbow to area waters and during the fall, winter, and spring it collects fish eggs from about 4,500 female rainbow trout.
Fertilized eggs are held until the egg develops an eye spot “eyed-egg” and are then counted and sent to other Idaho state facilities for rearing and production of fingerlings and catchable sized fish. Hayspur produces and ships about 8 million eyed-eggs annually.
The Heyspur campground is large and mostly flat and there is potable water available at the entrance closest to Gravers Lagoon. See the Google Map Here There are sites tucked into the Olive trees with fire rings and picnic tables but that is about it. You need to bring everything else. The large grassy lawns will accommodate any size rig and there is usually plenty of space. I parked my 40′ class A in the perfect spot. I had shade on both sides but a clear space above for maximum solar gain! I stayed 12 days. There is a 16 day stay limit in 30 days at the campground.
Gravers lagoon is a great family fishing area at the north end of the campground. It is also handicap accessible and there are bathroom facilities adjacent to the parking area. Always check the local fishing regulations but on the pond the rules are simple and designed for family fun! Head over to the official rules page for IDF&G here https://idfg.idaho.gov/rules/fish
Silver Creek West
Moving on down stream we get to Silver Creek West. Another hidden gem of a dry camping site. There is also plenty of space here for any sized rig. The large grassy area would accommodate quite a few campers and there are handicap accessible pit toilets at the campground. I fished here several days and caught some really nice fish, mostly rainbow’s and browns on Pale Morning Dun’s and Blue Wind Olive’s. Later in the day I was able to entice a few to take an Elk Hair Caddis. There is a 10 days in 30 stay limit. That’s not more than 10 days in the last 30 days.
Silver Creek East
Just a bit further downstream at Point of Rocks is Silver Creek East. Not as big but still easily accessible by any rig Silver Creek East gives you about a 1000 feet of creek frontage and several miles of great fishing! It also has handicap accessible pit toilets and the same 10 in 30 stay limits.
Finally we make our way west on US 20 to its intersection with Idaho 75, keep going west about a mile and you reach Stanton Crossing. I’ve stopping here for 40+ years and fishing the Big Wood rarely fails to produce nice trout. The campground was expanded a few years back because of its popularity and it usually gets pretty full on weekends.
The campground is tucked into 70 foot tall cottonwoods and spots are carved out right under the trees. Expect full shade in most of the spots and that is a good thing. 85-90 degree temps are not that uncommon in the middle of summer so all the shade you can get is a good thing. Unless like me you live on solar power and need full sun to charge.
The weekends and 4-day holidays can get busy as can the Dun hatch around the first week of June. For you non-fishing readers that is when a specific fly called a Brown Dun Mayfly is hatching and the fishing is ‘epic’ and generally pretty crowded. Otherwise there is usually plenty of space to camp and fish in without too many close neighbors. The areas are also popular with groups wanting to camp together. There are large areas where you can park multiple campers/RV’s/tents together for a group outing.
All 4 campgrounds are pack it in, pack it out. There is no trash service nor dump stations. Heyspur has potable water available. There are free dump stations in Hailey and Carey. Both are about 20 minutes away. There is paid dumping at the Silver Creek RV park in Picabo, 5 minutes from Heyspur.
Area Fishing Information
An excellent resource is provided by Idaho Fish and Game called the fishing planner. It is a really comprehensive online tool that details fishing in Idaho. Check it out : IDFG Fishing Planner
Another excellent resource are the hatch charts that Silver Creek Outfitters have one their web site.
Finally if you are a Google Earth nerd like me you can download a KMZ of the area with all the information I have collected on the area including stream traces and such. Silver Creek
So get out and enjoy some beautiful country and do some fishing at these very nice free campsites. Donation boxes are located in the campgrounds and that is always a good idea. They use the donated money towards maintenance of the camps.