Redfish Lake Camping Guide

Camping at Redfish Lake

Redfish Lake is located in the Sawtooth National Forest in Idaho. This is a beautiful location to go camping and there are a variety of campsites and amenities available. Read on to discover the great things that Redfish Lake has to offer so you can plan your next camping trip today!

What is Redfish Lake known for?

Redfish lake is named for the Sockeye Salmon that used to spawn in the lake in such large quantities that the water actually looked red. These fish used to fill the lakes by the thousands, but after the 1950’s their numbers declined to the point where they were almost gone from the waters of Redfish Lake.

In order to try and increase their numbers, the National Marine Fishery Service started a local hatchery. The Sawtooth Valley that Redfish Lake is found in is the spawning site of these beautiful redfish and every year they make a journey of hundreds of miles up to the Salmon River, along the Snake River and into the Columbia River where they reach the Pacific Ocean 900 miles later. Although they are no longer found in numbers that make the water turn red, they can still be found in Redfish lake along with Chinook and Steelhead salmon and some bull trout.

Nowadays Redfish lake is known for its numerous beautiful campsites, trails and recreational opportunities. There are both established campgrounds that are run into October and more remote wilderness locations that allow for perfect camping opportunities. You can kayak and fish in the beautiful water, hike on the trails and there are plenty of lovely beaches for swimming.

What is the best time of the year to go to Redfish Lake?

The best time to visit this beautiful lake is in the summer. At this point you can make the best use of the water through activities such as swimming and suntanning on the beaches, fishing for the local species of fish and boating or kayaking around the lake. Summer is the busiest time to go; however, it’s worth it to have full access to the hundreds of hiking trails in the Sawtooth Valley and summer offers the best chance to see wildlife and birds. The campsites and lodges surrounding Redfish lake are closed in the winter months, so anytime between June-September is the time to make use of these facilities.


What campsites are there at Redfish Lake?

Redfish lake has tons of campsites! There are three that are reservable and reservations can be made online here. These campsites are Glacier View Campground, Point Campground and Outlet Campground. Reservations for the sites are between $16-$18 for a single site and for a double you’re looking at a range of $32-$36.

Glacier View is the largest of these campgrounds and consists of 3 loops of trails with 65 campsites along the loops. Outlet campground is the second largest of the three with 19 campsites and some of the best beaches in Redfish Lake. Point Campground is the smallest with 17 campsites, a few of which are walk-in only. Point Campground tends to offer better options for secluded sites than the other three.

In addition to the three sites listed above, there are also a bunch that offers campsites on a first come first serve basis. These are great if you’re just driving through the area as part of a long journey and need a place to stay for a night or two. These consist of Sockeye, Mount Heyburn, Mountain View, Chinook, Sunny Gulch and the Redfish Overflow Campgrounds. The Redfish overflow is completely free to use; however, there are no amenities here whatsoever. These are great sites if you’re looking for something a little quieter and they offer some great walk-in only campsites that are more secluded than some of the sites you can get through reservation.

Things to know before going to Redfish Lake?

Before you head out on a camping trip to Redfish lake there are some things about the area that you should know. It’s a fantastic place to camp; however, each visit is limited to 10 days in order to allow a greater number of people to enjoy this beautiful lake.

Dogs are welcome in Redfish Lake; however, they need to be kept on a leash at all times to protect themselves and other campers. There are some designated wildlife areas in Redfish; Lake and motorized vehicles (including ATV’s and FourWheelers) are not allowed in these areas. Neither are bikes. There are regulations in place to prevent excessive noise in the campgrounds at night so you have to be quiet from 10pm-6am in order to allow all the guests to get a good night’s sleep.

Drinking water is available at the campsites so you don’t have to lug around jugs of your own drinking water. However, it’s still worth boiling water or using a water filter, just to be safe.

There are flush toilets at Redfish lake so the bathroom amenities are quite nice. There are boat ramps available for campers to use so feel free to bring along your boat for some fishing or cruising. Firewood is delivered to the campsites daily and can be picked up with one of the two Campground hosts that stay on-site throughout the summer season (as long as you have a fire starter with you!) Campers and RV’s are welcome and some of the sites you can reserve have extra-large roads to accommodate these vehicles.

Should you go camping at Redfish Lake?

Yes, Redfish lake is a fantastic place to camp! No matter what kind of camping experience you’re looking for you can find it at Redfish Lake. There are views of the mountains that are absolutely stunning and make for some fantastic photo opportunities. The amenities are great and allow you to go camping without really feeling like you’re giving up too much. The staff is friendly and available to help throughout the summer months.

There are trails at Redfish Lake and through the surrounding Sawtooth Valley that offer a range of hikes through easy to hard terrain so there’s a hike for everyone. The fishing is fantastic and the lake is beautiful to boat around whether you’re fishing or not. You have the option of a variety of campsites from a fully serviced lodge, to reservable drive-in sites, to remote walk-in sites all the way to a free campsite option! There’s a campsite to match every level of camper.

Redfish lake offers some beautiful beaches for swimming and there’s the opportunity to see some wildlife and birds whether you’re relaxing at your campsite or out on the trails. The campsites are clean, there’s a multitude of sites available and no matter which site you chose you can be assured of a beautiful spot.

Final Word

Redfish Lake offers a multitude of campsite options at reasonable prices. It’s located in the middle of the Sawtooth Valley and is home to beautiful beaches and a variety of trails. This is a must-see place for any camper and your trip to Redfish Lake is bound to be one of the best camping trips you’ll ever make.

See you there!

Article Author
Sean's an avid camper, kayaker, and RVer. He loves spending time finding new trails and campsites to take his family and friends.