It’s a few hours drive from McCall, Idaho to Winchester, Idaho heading north on Highway 95. It is a beautiful drive and one we have taken countless times. Of course, it is much nicer in the summer than in the winter where there is ice and snow!! (wink, wink…). This year it was a beautiful summer day as we paralleled the Little Salmon River up to Riggins.
We soon saw a sign noting that Highway 95 was closed near Pollock due to a landslide. Yikes. There was no cell reception so we just had to keep plowing north to discover the situation. We finally got close to Pollock where the traffic was stopped and signs were posted noting the detour. We followed a line-up or cars and trucks for a few miles along the Little Salmon River on the west side of Highway 95. The traffic moved along slowly but allowed us nice views of the surrounding countryside. We had plenty of time to check out the workers and the damage from the landslide. We don’t know anything more just what we saw but it appeared that the side of the mountain came down onto the road and smashed some containers. Scary.
We headed on to Riggins which is where the confluence of the Little Salmon River and the Salmon River is located. It is a well known area for river rafting and the rafters, kayakers, and fishermen were out in full force.
We headed on through Riggins to the bend of the river where there is a nice stopping point for us to enjoy the river, the rafters, and our lunch.
From there we crossed the river where we went from Mountain Time Zone to Pacific Time Zone (for northern Idaho) and up through White Bird and crossed over White Bird Pass. The multiple lane highway on the pass took ten years to complete, the elevation is at 4,245 feet, and the grade climbs 2,700 feet in seven miles with an average gradient of over 7%. It certainly is easier to climb in a small RV (our current one) than our massive 40′ diesel pusher. The views are incredible!
And on to Grangeville, Idaho, the largest city and the county seat of Idaho County.
Welcome to Winchester State Park located in Winchester, Idaho. This state park is located on a small fishing lake (103 acre) which has rainbow trout, perch, tiger muskie, bass, and blue gill. There are multiple docks on the lake and boat use is restricted to electric boats only and there are also canoes for rent. There are lots of hiking and biking trails in the summer and Nordic skiing and ice fishing in the winter. There is no dump station at the park but there is a free sewer dump in town just a few minutes away.
Campground: Winchester Lake State Park
Location: Winchester, Idaho
Site: 26 – Bitterroot Loop (B Loop) – back-in
Comments: We loved this park. We stayed 4 nights and on the 2nd night (Friday) they had a water main break and could not get it fixed. They did offer us a place to fill our fresh water tank which was located next to the Visitors Center. We drove over there and filled. Thank you!
COVID Awareness: 10 out or 10. It was contactless check-in. We just drove to our assigned site. All park employees wore masks and the hosts could not be nicer.
The state park is at about 3,900 ft elevation which makes for perfect summer temperatures. There are 3 camping loops at this state park, A, B, and C. A is the Appaloosa Loop, B is the Bitteroot Loop, and C is the Camas Loop. The B and C loops provide electric and water. The best sites with lake view and dock access are in the Appaloosa loop (A loop) which is all dry camping. Some of the site in Appaloosa are waterfront with dock access.
The amphitheater was located just behind our site and was offering movies and presentations some of the evenings we were there. They were practicing social distancing and had many of the rows blocked off to prevent people from sitting next to each other. Of course, there was plenty of room to the sides and back of the seating to allow you to bring your own chairs. One night they showed “Jurassic Park” which we could hear while in bed in our RV as they didn’t show the movies until it was dark out. It was great fun lying in bed and hearing dinosaurs roaming the earth!!! No nightmares that night!
There was plenty of hiking in the state park to keep us busy every day we were there.
The Discovery Trail is a shorter trail which allowed us to explore the forest heading up the hills and down the hills along narrow switchbacks. There are multiple interpretive signs along the way.
The Lakeshore Trail is a 3.3 mile trail that runs along the entire shore of Winchester Lake and provides lots of views of the lake along with varied terrain from lake shore to forests to open meadows.
The White Tail and Eco Trails provided a varied terrain of lake shore, forests, and marshes. All the trails looked like they could provide some fun Nordic skiing in the winter.
Winchester is a small town with a population of just over 300. The town sits in the north central part of the state on the Camas Prairie and is located within the Nez Perce Indian Reservation. It received it’s name in 1900 during a meeting to establish a school district. Someone noticed all the Winchester rifles stacked at the door and suggested the name “Winchester”. It was approved!
Many years ago we had stopped by this state park in early spring to secure a quick over night site on our way home to Coeur d’Alene. The campgrounds were open with self registration. All the sites were deep with snow. We decided not to stay as we never thought we could get a 40′ diesel pusher in and out of those sites with snow and ice!!! We moved on and luckily found someone who would take us in Moscow. Anyway, we weren’t thrilled with the state park and weren’t sure if we really wanted to stay here or not this time. BUT we ended up loving not only the park but we thoroughly enjoyed our time there!!