Dispersed camping on public land is almost always our first choice even if it’s just for one night. However finding a good spot isn’t always easy. First I check my favorite camping websites and if that yields nothing I start looking on Google satellite view and the Public Lands website. Public Lands is a really good site because it shows all of the different types of public land in the western states.
We want to camp north of McCammon, Idaho and Public Lands shows a swath of BLM on either side of the interstate. That’ll will do just fine if I can find an access road.
Clicking off the Land Status coloration and zooming in makes it easier to see a small access road to the west of I-15 off of Merrill Road, near McCammon. It also shows Indian Rocks State Park. What?? A quick check on the Idaho State Parks site comes up blank. A Google search reveals little. Hmm, we’ll see what’s up when we get there.
Here’s the access road entrance with carefully constructed rock pillars. Note the brown BLM post.
Here’s what we found 1/2 mile down the road. Petroglyphs!
We stopped for the night at the rocks and didn’t drive any farther down the road but Google satellite view shows the faint outlines of campsites branching off a loop road just 1/2 mile away from our boondock spot.
My curious is piqued now. The second page of a Google search gives me a good hit – a newspaper article from October 1973.
About two weeks of brisk-night camping remain for you to enjoy Indian Rocks State Park, off Interstate 15 just 20 miles south of Pocatello, at the Lava Hot Springs-McCammon exit. The park has been operated this summer by four Idaho State University students in recreation management. ……. There are a total of 51 campsites, including 20 with trailer' recreational vehicle hookups; a sanitary dump station, and modern rest rooms complete with hot water showers. The campground fee, unfortunately, is fairly stiff: $3 a night for in-staters and $4 for out-of-staters, plus 50 cents for electricity and water hookups. There have been rumors, however, the Idaho Parks and Recreation Department will lower the fees for next summer.
Wow, electric hookups, hot showers, and a dump station for $4.50!
That solves the mystery to some extent. There was a state park and campground but why was it closed? In fact why was it here in the first place? It’s just a patch of high desert without trails or attractions other than the small pile of rocks covered with petroglyphs. And why does it still show up on Google maps?
So after all that how was our boondock site? :-D We would definitely stay for one night again but probably not longer. Its a little too close to the interstate and there are better options not far away.