One of the joys of RVing is the ability to leisurely enjoy lesser-known attractions off the beaten path and camp away from the city crowds. Such is the case with Idaho’s Jump Creek Canyon and its nearby cousin Squaw Creek Canyon.
The canyons are located in the southwest corner of the state with creeks draining from the ruggedly stark and beautiful Owyhee Mountains.
Few would expect to find the lush riparian areas found in the bottom of each canyon after traveling through the arid sagebrush to reach them.
Exploring the canyons
Start your journey by driving to the developed trailhead for Jump Creek Canyon, the better known and more popular of the two.
The main attraction is Jump Creek Falls, which is an easy quarter-mile hike from the parking area suitable for everyone in the RV.
Make sure to allow extra time to marvel at the canyon walls reaching hundreds of feet above you, explore creviced and grotto-like areas cut by the creek, and time to dip your feet in the pool at the base of the falls.
Once you have explored Jump Creek, get back in the RV and head southwest to lesser-known Squaw Canyon Creek to set up your dispersed camp on BLM land and prepare to explore.
While approaching the canyon along a dry creek bed on a dusty road lined with sagebrush, you may start to believe that there isn’t much worth exploring.
Keep in mind that the arid porous soil you are traveling over quickly sucks up all of the moisture flowing out of the canyon, and a surprising lush rock-lined oasis awaits you. Unlike Jump Creek there is no marked/developed trail, so continue among the rocks and tumbling creek as far as your hiking/scrambling abilities allow before returning to your RV.
Again, make sure to allow time to sit and soak in beautiful surroundings before returning to your RV.
Driving instructions to Jump Creek from the BLM website:
From Boise, take Interstate 84 West to the Nampa exit for Highway 55 (Exit 33A). Follow Highway 55 through Marsing and on to the junction with US-95. Continue one mile past the junction and turn left onto Cemetery Road.
Turn left at the T-intersection with a STOP sign. The road becomes Jump Creek Road as it continues south. Just after passing under power transmission lines, the road curves right through private land. Stay on the roadway as it curves back to the left toward the entry to the recreation area.
For those navigating by GPS, you will find a large parking lot suitable for RVs and the trailhead at N43° 28.865 W116° 55.479
Driving instructions to Squaw Creek Canyon:
From the intersection of Highway 95 and Sommer Camp Road: (Note: There is a weigh station to the southeast corner of the intersection for reference).
Drive east on Sommer Camp Road for 2.3 miles. Turn right at N43° 26.858 W116° 49.779 onto a dirt road with a cattle guard with old tires at each side.
After passing over the cattle guard you will find a large open area with several suitable areas to disperse camp.
From the camp area, follow the rough dirt road on foot or vehicle (always staying along the creek bed) approximately 0.8 miles to the trailhead at N43° 26.304 W116° 50.045 From the trailhead follow the trail to the southwest into the canyon.