Earlier this week we drove downriver along the Clark Fork River on Hwy 200 in western Montana. The impressive Clark Fork was pushing its edges as it roared toward Lake Pend Oreille in north Idaho. Snow was still visible on the Bitterroot Range as we nosed our way west on Forest Road #9 over the 4,860-foot Thompson Pass into Idaho. A quiet, magnificent ride.
We joined the Coeur d’Alene River in the small community of Pritchard and headed down this popular crystal clear waterway. It was not unusual to see wildlife, including moose, drinking along the streams (click on photos to enlarge).
We were headed toward a small campground in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest, one of three forests that are aggregated into the Idaho Panhandle National Forests (the other two are the Kaniksu and St. Joe National Forests).
The Bumblebee Campground, located at the confluence of Bumblebee Creek and the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River, has about two-dozen developed sites, drinking water, campfire rings and vault toilets.
Camping season opens in late May–but when we got there, both loops were still closed. So we continued upstream along the forest service road until we spotted a blocked off logging road and backed-in for the night (click on below). Dispersed camping opportunities are available at many sites on the forest. For more information contact one of the Forest Service offices.
To get to the developed Bumblebee Campground, from FR 9, turn east on FR 209 and travel three miles, turn right to the campground. (If you run into dirt road on FR 209, you’ve gone too far.)
During season: $16 / night, $8 extra vehicle; $130 / night for the group site (100 person/25 car maximum). Click here for reservations.
Most of the forest’s developed campgrounds are adjacent to one of the rivers and lakes in the Panhandle which hold some of the best fishing locations in the world. Campers can also enjoy floating, boating, canoeing, kayaking, hiking or simply relaxing in a camp chair.
Photos by Julianne G. Crane.