Visit North Fork Payette River, Cascade and Warm Lake Recreation Area in Idaho

Visit North Fork Payette River, Cascade and Warm Lake Recreation Area in Idaho


Today we will be traveling north from Boise,
Idaho along Highway 55 to the town of Cascade. Our 75-mile drive to Cascade takes approximately
2 hours, first traveling along grassy slopes and then through a scenic river canyon. At
the north end of Cascade, we will take Highway 22 a little over 20 miles northeast to Warm
Lake and visit campgrounds that surround the crystal clear waters of Warm Lake. Just about
a mile from Warm Lake we make a right turn off of Highway 22 and arrive at the South
Fork Salmon River Campground. With 14 sites this campground is not part of the reservation
system. This means, all the campsites are on a first come, first served basis. Each
campsite is provided with tables, fire rings, grills and vault toilets. There is no water
available after October 1. As its name suggests, the campground is situated along the South
Fork Salmon River, host to Chinook salmon in the fall. Although massive wildfires in
2007 left many standing dead trees there are seedlings, birds, butterflies and plenty of
wildflowers to enjoy. Arriving at Warm Lake, our next stop is Shoreline Campground. At
an elevation of 5300 feet and offering 23 single campsites and 8 double sites for up
to 10 people each, Shoreline is a paradise to those who appreciate paved parking spurs
and areas large enough to easily accommodate a 35 foot trailer. The campground is situated
in a mixed-growth of lodgepole pine forest with partial shade. Visitors enjoy boating,
fishing, swimming, and viewing wildlife. There are great hiking, mountain biking, horseback
and off-road vehicle riding opportunities. Shoreline features an accessible group site,
complete with a picnic shelter, which can easily accommodate 50 people. “This particular
site is fabulous because of the paving and the nice bathrooms and everybody is close
together, but not so close, that we are on each other’s heals and we have had a wonderful
time here with the trees and the weather, not much mosquitoes.” (laugh) Reservations
for the individual and group sites can be made at www.recreation.gov. All sites have
tables, campfire rings, grills, vaulted toilets and available drinking water. A boat ramp
accesses the lake and the nearby Billy Rice Swim Beach is a favorite stop for a swim and
picnic. Continuing along the lake, we stop at the privately owned North Shore Lodge.
The lodge features comfortable cabins with kitchens and a beautiful view of the lake.
The lodge also includes a café, grocery store and bar with great breakfast, lunch and dinners
served daily. Recreation activities abound in this area. The lodge offers boat rentals
and fishing supplies, picnic areas, horseback riding, and a sandy beach for swimming. Within
walking distance from North Shore Lodge, our next stop is Picnic Point Campground, an 8-site
campground on a bluff overlooking the lake. This campground offers tent-only campsites
and is accessed via a 50-200 foot hike from the parking area. Large ponderosa pines provide
shade and there is no shortage of fishing, hiking and boating fun. “Being from the Treasure
Valley, it’s really close and you still feel like you are quite a ways away from home.
You can get away from it and it just kind of gives you a great attitude change, so it’s
all about making memories.” Staircases lead down to the water at three different locations
in the campground. The Billy Rice Swimming Beach is within walking distance and is a
great place for a swim and picnic. Campsites all have tables, fire rings, grills, available
drinking water and vaulted toilets. The campground is available with a reservation through www.recreation.gov.
Traveling southeast along the lake we quickly arrive at Warm Lake Campground. It is a cozy
small campground shaded by large ponderosa pines. It hosts 12 campsites available by
reservation at www.recreation.gov. There is an area designated for tents only. The campground
is across the road from the privately owned Warm Lake Lodge. Next we travel west back
along the 579 road toward Cascade and turn south on the 474 road (very close to the South
Fork Salmon River Campground) and follow the 474 road about 6 miles to our last stop the
Stolle Meadows Cabin. The historic and rustic Stolle Meadows Cabin is a single-room dwelling
has been restored to near original condition. It is located in a beautiful meadow near a
variety of recreational activities. The cabin is available year-round with a reservation
from www.recreation.gov. In winter visitors ski and snowmobile the 6.5 miles to the cabin
and in the summer months Warm Lake is less than 5 miles with plenty of boating, fishing
and swimming. The cabin contains four single beds with foam pads, a table and chairs, dry
sink, wood stove and firewood, propane cooking stove with fuel, pots and pans, dishes and
tableware. There is no electricity available at the cabin. There is an outhouse with vault
toilet and picnic table located outside. Drinking water is available year-round from a hand
pump outside the cabin. Pets are allowed at the cabin and guests are asked to bring their
own additional gear and supplies including bedding and extra lighting. There is a hot
springs just a stone’s throw from the cabin. In the fall, the nearby Salmon Viewing Area
provides opportunities to view the amazing fish from the interpretive boardwalk. We remind
visitors to the Boise National Forest that reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov
or by calling 1-877-444-6777. Further information is also available by calling the Forest Service
at area code 208-373-4007.

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