Get Outside 1

Let Your Campfire Stories Begin Here

Warm, sunny days; sparkling waters reflecting off blue skies; and a chorus of birds at dusk that usher in a cool night—these are all sublime moments waiting for anyone heading into Idaho’s great outdoors for a camping trip. 

Idaho is full of campgrounds ranging from Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, state parks, private businesses and wide spots off a dirt road. It doesn’t matter which campsite you choose. It only takes a few minutes on the internet or a decent map to find them, so that’s not what this story is about. 

This is a soft-but-firm push to get you out the door. It can be a hassle to get loaded and go, especially after a busy work week and lots of life’s other extracurriculars. 

It also doesn’t matter what kind of camping you prefer, whether in a cushy RV, a yurt, a family tent, a backpack tent or sleeping under the stars. There’s something egalitarian about camping, and no one around a campfire cares what tax bracket you’re in. 

The goal is to step away and recalibrate your brain with a strong dose of nature that often gets pushed far into the background and relegated to scenic shots on an office wall.

Turn your gaze toward a campfire and listen to the soundtrack of crackling embers and watch sparks rising into the sky. Look up and see the stars come into focus. It’s impossible to look into that dark expanse dotted with light from millions of miles away and not feel awe and humility that you’re part of this wonderful, mysterious universe. 

Listen to nature. Don’t just hear the noises around you—actually listen. Pick out the sounds of birds, squirrels, breeze through the treetops, trickles of running water or a wave lapping against a shore. There’s a rhythm that’s like a lost language. It can be subtle as a whisper and soothing as music. 

Explore your surroundings. It doesn’t have to be a grand exploration of the wilderness, but take a walk with no certain destination in mind. Often, a destination becomes the focus and the goal, but wandering lets you experience things rather than walking past them en route to someplace else. 

Slow your life to a crawl. Modern life is hectic; no news flash there. Not to mention that computers have turned us into screen zombies. It makes doing nothing can feel like an accomplishment, but let it happen organically. Wake up on your own schedule, eat when you’re hungry, take a nap if you feel like it and don’t feel guilty. Stash your watch in your vehicle and see how long you can go without looking at it. 

These things may seem simple or like tall orders for a simple campout. Don’t think of them as a checklist; think of them as possibilities and let them happen if they happen. 

Finally, accept that things will go wrong. It may rain, the bugs may bite, the fish may not, the wind may scatter your camp like a twister through a trailer park. Don’t let it get you down. 

Weeks, maybe even months or years later, you may not remember the trip where everything went okay, but you will definitely remember the disasters. 

You will eventually laugh about them because, as the saying goes, tragedy plus time equals comedy. 

So pack your gear, load your rig and hit the road. That perfect campsite isn’t that far away, and an awesome campfire story can’t be told for you. 

You have to live it, then tell it yourself. 

The point is, take some structure and expectation out of the equation. Your regimented life will return soon enough, so let the whims of randomness rule your world for a couple of days.