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Camping Swiftwater RV Park in Idaho

If you’re thinking about making the trip to Hells Canyon – and you’re looking for a hidden gem of a private campground, then look no further than Swiftwater RV Park. Don’t let the name fool you – this campground offers sites for both RV’s and tents, as well as glamping. We spoke with Anna Holden, the owner of Swiftwater RV Park, and she filled us in on the in’s and out’s of her site. Listen to our full interview here:

Swiftwater RV Park, Idaho

Camp Idaho: I’m talking with Anna Holden today. She’s the owner at Swiftwater RV Park in Idaho. How’s it going today, Anna?

Anna Holden: Oh, it’s terrific. Fishing is picking up here on the Salmon River. The steelhead are coming in and anglers throughout Idaho and Western Montana are headed this way, and camping at Swiftwater and catching some fish.

CI: Nice! So, let’s start with how long Swiftwater RV Park has been there and how it actually got its start.

Anna Holden: It was developed by private owners in the late ’70s, and I purchased the Park in 2004. It’s a small private campground situated directly on the banks of the Salmon River, in North/Central Idaho.

CI: So you’ve been there almost ten years. You must be doing everything right.


Anna Holden: I’m hoping so. Yeah, it’s a great little spot. It’s half a mile off the main highway, so it’s a little secluded and quite rural, and very quaint. It has a nice covered gazebo on the rivers edge with a stone fire pit, which is a great place for people to, especially in the fall and the winter and spring, enjoy to a campfire and roast some marshmallows. The gazebo is a nice gathering place. Just a couple of weeks ago, I had almost 15 vintage campers here from Sisters on the Fly. And all of those wonderful campers who have those small, tiny trailers that they’ve restored, and they just have a bunch of fun and really enjoyed the gazebo and the fire pit.

CI: Those pictures on your website are fantastic of the glampers, as they’re called.

Anna Holden: Glampers.

CI: Looks like a lot of fun.

Anna Holden: Yeah, glampers is it.

CI: So, what are some of the local attractions? If somebody is staying there and they wanted to head out and about for the afternoon, what are the local attractions worth checking out?


Anna Holden: Of course the big one is Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Hells Canyon is 17 miles from Swiftwater. We’re the closest private Park to the National Recreation Area. And when you head out on the 17-mile trek, over to Hells Canyon, which has the Snake River and you go to a Pittsburg Landing, which is a commercial and private boat launch; and from there, you can take a hike over to Kirkwood Mansion, which is the former private home of past Idaho Governor, Len Jordan. And there’s also lots of ATV trails, so people who are camping at Swiftwater can take their ATV or a side-by-side and wave directly from the Park and ride into Pittsburg, and also take other for-service roads off of that main road onto other kind of wilderness and mountainous areas.

So, highlights when people come here is they want to go to Hells Canyon. They want to take a jet boat ride, or they want to take a hike, or they want to ride their ATV on for-service trails. There’s also a National Park attraction here, just on the other side of White Bird, so it’s about four miles from here. It’s a White Bird Battlefield, which is part of the National Park Service’s Nez Perce National Historic Park. And it’s a self-guided tour – about a mile and a half round-trip – of the War of 1877, when the Nez Perce routed out of the US Calvary.

CI: Wow.


Anna Holden: That’s also a popular place. There’s, just locally, a great antique store. But mostly, when people come here, they just love sitting underneath the willow trees, on a grassy boardwalk that faces the river, and watch the river go by, watch floater go by, and read a book and enjoy a glass of wine. That’s one of the favorite past times.

CI: You are speaking my language, Anna.

Anna Holden: Some people come and they want to go, go, go, and they want to do a raft trip and jet boat trip, and drive here and drive there. And that’s great, and other people come here and say: “Wow, I want to kick back,” and it’s great place to do both.

CI: Boy, you know, sometimes, when you do too much of that stuff, you get back from vacation and you realize that you’re more stressed out than before you went. You know, you always have to remember to do exactly what you just said there, which is to kick back with a glass of wine and watch the sun go down.

Anna Holden: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it’s a great place for that. And we’re open year round here, because we’re at pretty low elevation. So, we don’t get very much snow, and we have people who bring their campers from all surrounding areas and store them here in the winter. And they live in snow, so they come here and stay in their trailer for a night or two and get out of snow.

CI: Sure, that sounds great too.

Anna Holden: Yeah. Yeah.

CI: So, if you head out and about for the afternoon, what’s your favorite attraction in the area?

Anna Holden: Oh, I like to go into Hells Canyon and like to have a picnic or do some bass fishing over there. You know, that’s just a great favorite activity, but I also like to pick wild fruit. There’s lot of wild plums around, and you can get some. This time of year, the elderberries are ready for picking, and so I like to do that as well.

CI: That sounds great. One more question for you. If someone was coming in, what particular site would you give them for their RV? Is there one that’s better than another?

Anna Holden: Oh, I have ten sites directly on the riverfront.

CI: Wow.

Photo courtesy of David Hansen
Photo courtesy of David Hansen

Anna Holden: And so, all of those are very popular. And the two most favorite are — well, there’s three favorites. Number 9, which is immediately to the right of the gazebo, and then number 18, which is at the opposite end. And they both have large lawn areas, so lots of times people in, you know, big rigs will be traveling with others and they’ll park side-by-side there, or they’ll have family tent camping. And so, all the grassy lawn areas are perfect for their friends or family to set up a tent right next to their big trailer.

CI: That sounds fantastic there.

Anna Holden: Good. Yeah, it’s a nice spot. It’s a real gem.

CI: Okay, awesome. Well, hey, thanks for taking some time out of your day, Anna, to talk with us about Swiftwater RV Park in Idaho, and we’ll get this information right out to our visitors.

Anna Holden: Thank you so much.

CI: All right, take care.

Visit Swiftwater RV Park’s Website

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