One of Idaho’s Best Kept Secrets - Deadwood Reservoir


Located deep in the Boise National Forest in Southern Idaho is one of Idaho’s best-kept secrets. This majestic destination is Deadwood Reservoir and is accessed in around 91 +/- miles from the Boise area, depending on the route taken. The crystal clear waters of Deadwood Reservoir are surrounded by dense forest pines and abundant nature. The stunning scenery on a warm summer day with clear skies has a way of giving off a deserted island feel with mini waves crashing up to sandy beaches in addition to beautiful islands situated amid the crystal clear reservoir waters. Not to mention during the summer months, there is a canopy of wildflowers that cover the region and brighten the surroundings with a beautiful display. For many, this remote destination could easily be described as the epitome of a tranquil environment in one of the most serene locations to be found across the state. For some, heading to Deadwood Reservoir is like being transported into a different world one without the sounds of inner-city traffic and commotion of the hustle and bustle of busy city living. This remote destination could easily be described as one where everything seems to slow down, and relaxation is nearly a requirement. Generally, the sounds in the area could be described as the wisping winds rustling through the pines, birds calling out, fish splashing in the water, and the sounds of mini-waves crashing to shore. If you didn’t know Deadwood Reservoir existed, or if you did and haven’t made the trip, maybe this is the year for you to mark it on the calendar and finally give it a go.

That’s simply the beginning of all that this area has to offer. Outside of the abundant water activity opportunities and possibly campsite fun, perhaps enjoy a picnic, find area trails, old mining structures, the dam, further out there is also the Deadwood Lookout, which boasts incredible scenic views. This destination is popular among many who enjoy taking out the RV, boating and canoeing, water gear, mountain bike riding, fishing, camping, birding and nature observing, photography, sun-soaking, and simply enjoying the outdoors. Fishing the Deadwood Reservoir fish such as Cutthroat Trout, Kokanee, Atlantic, and Chinook have been known to this area. Be sure to check current bag limits and restrictions as well as obtain any necessary licensing before fishing. There is also a boat ramp located about 5.5 miles from the Cozy Cove Campground for added convenience.

For those who enjoy getting outdoors to camp, there are a few campsites in this area to choose from. Find a mix of reservable and first come first serve sites. Typically the campsites that allow for reservations are nearly as soon as they become available. Campgrounds include Cozy Cove Campground, Hower’s Campground, Barney’s Campground, and Riverside Campground. Perhaps when you do plan your trip in the direction, you don’t happen to secure a campground in advance and still want to camp overnight. A bit further out, there are a few additional campsites you might consider, such as Deer Flat Campground and Elk Creek Campground. The peak season for this area generally runs around the beginning of July to September. Be sure to check these dates for any updates or changes as well as any news for the area before heading out. Road closures, fire and wind advisories, flash flood warnings, local advisories, and any similar information to best be prepared, are a great way to start a trip for the best outcomes.

A brief campground overview:

Hower’s Campground - Situated alongside Barney’s Campground, this lovely campground sits nestled destination in the cove alongside the northeast shoreline of Deadwood Reservoir with direct access to the wonderfully refreshing waters. Enjoy standard non-electric sites. Sections of this campground are shaded by the pine trees.

Barney’s Campground - Located along the northeast shore of Deadwood Reservoir Barney’s Campground is a delightful destination ideal for outdoor enjoyment. This campground boasts scenic views across the reservoir with nearby trails suitable for horseback riding, mountain bike riding, exploration, as well as ATV riding.

Riverside Campground - Nestled amid soaring pine trees, the Riverside Campground sits at an elevation of approximately 5,300 feet. During the warmer months, this area is immersed in wildflowers and makes for an excellent location for nature viewing with opportunities for water activities, nearby trails, as well as overnight camping.

Cozy Cove Campground - The name is quite fitting as this entire area exudes a feel of cozy, comfort, and utter relaxation. Roads and parking areas are dirt. Drinking water is provided as well as vault toilets. Some of the sites here are designated as first come first serve.

If you take kindly to setting up camp away from developed campsites, dispersed camping is allowed in the Boise National Forest. Be sure to check out any and all applicable guidelines and rules before you head out for your trip so that you are best prepared and have all the necessary information and tools required to stay in compliance while enjoying your time outdoors.

When camping any generous distance from the desired destination, one thing you might consider researching what time sunset occurs at the desired destination. It is good to set buffers into scheduled timeframes and give yourself plenty of extra time for things that pop up unexpectedly, like road closures and detours, or perhaps wildlife that likes to stops smack in the middle of the road for no better reason than to stop right where they are at, and the various other oddball things that happen on the road. Ultimately most people don’t want to find themselves on the road after dark in the unfamiliar territory if that’s something they're not comfortable with. The sun likes to hide behind the rolling mountains and peaks much sooner than one might expect. Once the sun is gone behind the mountainside, there is only a little bit of time, possibly only a few minutes before everything is dark for the evening. This is not a good time to realize camp hasn't been set up yet, or the fire isn't started if that’s the route your taking for the evening. If for any reason, someone does find themselves setting up camp after dark, it’s still no big deal to get everything together and get situated for the night, it’s merely a benefit to attempt to accomplish these things while the sun is still shining bright for their added convenience.

This destination is undoubtedly one that is worth the experience. If you're considering a trip in this direction you may want to pack a full picnic basket packed with extra goodies and water. Depending on the route taken, this Idaho gem is accessible in the warmer months. Everyone making the journey will, of course, want to be sure to be adequately prepared. Some people might start with an overview of current upkeep on vehicle maintenance, strong braking ability, emergency tools, and possibly a spare headlight if one goes out on the bumpy road, a spare tire and fix a flat, overall road preparedness, as well as any additional helpful items as some of the access roads, may be demanding. Complimented this concept, some routes will require vehicles to have extra clearance, in addition to 4 wheel drive. Be sure to research which route makes the most sense for you thoroughly!


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