Free Camping In The Cabinet Mountains By Lightning Creek, ID

We stayed at Lightning Creek Road in Idaho in August.

Our Previous Stop: Free Boondocking On The Shores Of The Largest Lake In Idaho

Our Next Stop: Free Campground By The #1 Hike In The Bitterroot Mountains

Campground Info

Location: 48.242828, -116.111190
Cost: Free
Camping Limit: 14 Day
Amenities: None

Related: Save 50% On Campgrounds All Over The United States With Passport America

Essentials Nearby

Town: Clark Fork, ID – 8 miles
Gas Station: Chevron – 8 miles (Also Refill Propane)
Dump Station & Potable Water: Sam Owen Campground16 miles ($8 Credit Card Only, Free Potable Water)
Grocery Store: Monarch Market – 8 miles

Cell Phone Service

Verizon – None
AT&T – None

Nearby Attractions

Moose Lake Trail – 13 miles
Lake Pend Oreille12 miles
Scotchman Peak Hike – 12 miles
Coeur d’Alene Bike Trail – 81 miles
Glacier National Park – 182 miles
Missoula, MT – 172 miles
Canada – 95 miles


Camping Along Lightning Creek Road, ID

We discovered Lightning Creek Road while exploring the town of Clark Fork, ID. We saw signs for it in town and drove down the road which follows lightning creek. You first pass a few neighborhoods and some private land but you soon get to a dirt road that is National Forest.

See Also: How We Store & Transfer Extra Water To Our RV When Camping

The camping on Lightning Creek road is basically a bunch of spots spread out along the 10 mile road. Most of them are accessed by very narrow paths that have a lot of low hanging branches and I wouldn’t recommend most of these sites for large 5th-wheels or tall RVs. There are a few that are ok for travel trailers like the one we found just make sure you always scout ahead before driving down any of the side roads because some of them are fairly long and you may not be able to tell if someone is camping there from the main road or you may end up getting stuck and having to back out.

Narrow road leading to our campsite at Lightning Creek Road.

If you aren’t finding any campsites when driving down Lightning Creed Road you will be able to turn around at the 3rd bridge which is 13 miles from where lightning creek road starts in the town of Clark Fork, ID so you don’t need to stress.

The dirt road itself is actually in excellent shape. There are a few holes and rough patches to watch out for, but for the most part, it isn’t bad at all. The only downside to it is the frequent traffic and the insane amount of dust that gets kicked up.

Specific Locations Of The Best Campsites

The first campsite is 1.3 miles from the point where the paved road becomes dirt or 4.2 miles from the start of Lightning Creek Road. This campsite is solely for tent campers and there is only a small pull off you can park in. Your vehicle will get really dusted from the frequent traffic on the road if you choose this campsite. The good news about it is it’s the closest to town and you could possibly get some cell service here.

After that campsite, there are a few small pull-outs and roads that lead to small campsites that are perfect for tent or car campers. The first campsite that would be able to fit a trailer is about 3.7 miles from where the dirt road starts. This is a fairly narrow site in a thickly forested area. You won’t get any sun but it will be cool during the day. The only problem with it is you will most likely have to back into it and you are fairly close to the road.

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Our campsite which was large enough for our 32 foot travel trailer and could possibly have fit more campers was 4.8 miles from where the dirt road starts and is where the coordinates listed above for this camping area will take you. It’s just past the second bridge you will cross when driving on Lightning Creek Road. There is also a nice small campsite right next to the second bridge which is perfect for tents, vans, or small trailers.

Our travel trailer friendly campsite on Lightning Creed Road, ID.

Just a mile past our campsite we found another better one that was closer to the creek and was near some great fishing holes. This site is one you may want to back into if you have a large trailer and you may even be able to fit a 5th-wheel into it.

Second excellent campsite for RVs and 5-th wheels on Lightning Creek Road, ID.

Between this site and the 3rd bridge, there is another amazing campsite that is trailer friendly. I didn’t write down the exact milage to it but it’s on the west side of the road and not that far from the final bridge. It was a really nice campsite with lots of large trees and enough space for a trailer, but once again you may need to back into it since the trees make it hard to get enough room to turn around.

3rd bridge you can use to turn around on Lightning Creed Road. There are also two large campsites on the other side.

Across the 3rd bridge is also where one large open parking/camping area is. It’s a good place for multiple campers and large trailers or RVs. Once you get to the 3rd bridge which crosses lightning creek road and heads west you drive over it and the open area is to your right.

Large open camping area across the 3rd bridge on Lightning Creek Road, ID.

There is also a small camping area to your left by the bridge you can camp in.


We didn’t go further than this but if you look at google maps it looks like there are more open areas if you continue to drive on Lightning Creek Road. The road will eventually end in a small parking area which is where the Moose Lake Trailhead is located.


Lightning Creek Road, ID Camping Review

Even though we didn’t have any service we loved our campsite on Lightning Creek Road. The dirt road coming in was in great shape so it only took a few minutes to drive to a spot where there was cell service or to get into town.

We were lucky enough to get a campsite that was down a road that was small but large enough for our large travel trailer. It was a good distance from the main road and just a short walk to the creek. We rely heavily on solar power when camping and we don’t normally park our trailer in areas that have a lot of shade but in mid-August, the temperatures were high, even in northern Idaho, which is why we decided to head to the forest to escape the heat.

See Also: The Best Camping Gas Generators That Will Run Your RV AC

It was quiet out there, especially at night. The sun disappeared quickly because of the mountains and trees but there were hardly any mosquitoes and it was a great place to have evening fires and to enjoy the woods.

Even though it was dead silent at night there were lots of cars driving by during the day. There’s a hike at the end of the road which causes some traffic but it seemed like most of the people were out searching for firewood. We were there on a weekend and even though we saw some trailers driving down the road the spot closest to us by the bridge was never taken. Maybe it’s because it was so hot that weekend but we were surprised to see that not every campsite was occupied.

Little rainbow trout caught in Lightning Creek near Clark Fork Idaho.

If you like fly fishing in small water Lightning Creek has some beautiful little trout in it you can try and catch. I caught a few near the campsite but we found the larger fish further up the road.

All-in-all we enjoyed our stay along Lightning Creek Road. There was a nice swimming hole under the nearby bridge and it stayed fairly cool even during a late summer heatwave. It’s not guaranteed you will find a campsite if you are in a big rig but it could be worth the drive if you are looking for some great free camping, especially since the only other free camping area is the Drift Yard which is mostly just a parking lot and has no shade.

Have any questions about camping at Lightning Creek Road in Idaho? Leave a comment.

by Jenni
Jenni grew up in a small town in Idaho. With a family that loves camping, she has been towing trailers since a very young age.

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