Between Lewiston, ID and Orofino is a nice scenic drive along the Clearwater river on Highway 12. My destination was one of two COE campgrounds on the reservoir.

Settling into camp

This was a long tiring settling trip … longer than usual. My strategy of picking the campground further away, hoping for better site availability, backfired. After driving several miles of very curvy, big up and down grades we made it to Canyon Creek campground. Every site was full and a couple trailers even squatted in the boat launch area (a no-no). With a deep sigh we resigned to the fact that we’d had to make the drive all the way back to town.

Once we drove all the way back, we continued East towards the visitor center road. Although the center wasn’t open, we were able to park and review our options. The 2nd campground appeared full. A couple of phone calls confirmed the area’s private and BLM campgrounds were also full.

Lucky for us we found out the camp area just before the visitors center that was full was actually for volunteers only. Why lucky? That meant it wasn’t the campground we were looking for!

Dam View Campground

Just a 2 min drive around a bend from the visitor center, is the 2nd COE campground called Dam View Campground. Only 3 other campers were settled in when we arrived on July 3rd. We claimed a nice, shady, comfortable corner in the lower paved area. Two days later, we relocated up to a vacated grassy sites with a fire pit. By Sunday we had the place to ourselves. It was a nice spot for us and allowed us to check out the local area, hike and kayak over the holiday weekend. Check out the video towards the end of this post that includes our review of the area.

  • GPS: 45.48393, -116.31625
  • Easy to locate: Yes; right off the highway between Lucille and Riggins
  • Public Land: Yes
  • Cell: None
  • Crowded: not at all
  • Buggy: No
  • Clean: yes, pretty clean clean
  • Would we stay here again: Yes, as long as we don’t need cell connections

Kayaking

Our first kayak outing of 2020! It almost cost us a $72 ticket, but the sheriff was feeling generous this holiday weekend. As we drove into Idaho we were watching for watercraft inspection stations and never saw any. Once we got to the reservoir we looked again for posted notices and found none. Not seeing any indication that a permit was needed, we launched the kayak. The sheriff was only 15 minutes behind us. Fortunately, she allowed us to paddle back in and purchase one at the marina area rather than issue a ticket. Whew!

Camping and Kayaking video

Check out the video below to see the lake area we paddled in this vast reservoir. The lake was at its peak levels, smooth and easy paddling. Recreation at the reservoir included what are called mini-camps. That was a new concept to us; having a boat in campsite area with pit toilets. With the lake being 54 miles long, it would make sense to provide boaters areas to dock for day or overnight use.

Where to Next?

We will be heading to southern Idaho via Highway 95 along the Salmon River.

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