Last month, David and I stayed at Joe T. Falling Campground on the shore of Mackay Reservoir, Idaho. We chilled out there for two weeks, paddling around in the reservoir, visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, and attending Mackay Rodeo.

Situated at the base of the Lost River Range, Mackay is a small town that appears to be more important than what the number of residents (approximately 500 people) would suggest. There are services in this town including a nice grocery, gas stations, a laundromat, and a hardware store. We were a customer of these places while in the area. RVers would be interested to know that the town has free dumping station with drinking water (donation accepted). We saw two public playgrounds for children in town. Two!

By the way, the name of the town is pronounced “Mackie” with the accent on the first syllable. We had been saying Mac-Kay for several days.

Mackay, Idaho

Joe T. Fallini Campground at Mackay Reservoir

Joe T. Fallini Campground is a beautiful BLM campground on the shore of Mackay Reservoir just outside of Mackay. I originally planned for us to be there for a few days, but we ended up staying for two weeks. All RV sites have electricity, which was very helpful when we were there as it got cold for many days. It costs $14 per night for an RV site. The campground has a two-lane dump station ($5 for campers, $10 for non-campers). This campground is on a first-come-first-serve basis. When we were there the campground was full only for a few days. Most of the time, there was at least one available site. All of the sites here accommodate big rigs.

The Lost River Range as we arrived at Joe T. Fallini Campground
Our camp site
Camping by the reservoir
Looking toward the northwest end of the reservoir
Took a kayak out in Mackay Reservoir. It’s breezy most of the time when we were here, so paddling was quite challenging at time.
An overnight shower brought fresh snow to the mountains. It was so pretty.
Enjoying sunset paddling
On the dam end of the reservoir, there’s a rock cliff that is home to lots of birds. Look closely you could see bird nests on the cliff side.
Mackay Reservoir on a calm day is gorgeous.
Looking down to the base of the dam

If you look for places for boondocking, there are lots of opportunities. The shore of Mackay Reservoir on both sides of Joe T. Fallini Campground has areas where apparently dispersed camping is allowed. Along the Big Lost River as it leaving the base of the dam also has several free camping areas. These are, however, more suitable for smaller rigs. Some of the spots have tricky access roads, so its a good idea to scout it out before taking your rig in there.

Mackay Rodeo, Idaho’s Wildest Rodeo

It was a mere coincidence that we were in the area during the annual Mackay Rodeo, dubbed as Idaho’s Wildest Rodeo. I haven’t been to a rodeo before, so it’s a great opportunity to see what it’s all about. Mackay Rodeo is a two-day event with a pre-rodeo parade on the first day.

The weather forecast wasn’t looking great for the weekend of rodeo. There was scattered shower and thunderstorm in the forecast for both days. We went to the event on Saturday to watch the parade. The sleepy town did come alive for the rodeo. Many children came prepared with a plastic bag in their arm to collect candies being given away by people in the parade. It was a quite festive to have witnessed. After the parade, it’s time for the rodeo…and the forecast rain.

The Stars and Stripes led the parade.
Lots of horses
Children waiting for candies
Not sure if it’s a thing, but a few kids dressed up with a fake mustache.
This cutie was a little too young to go out and pick up candies. So, he just looked on.
It started raining shortly after the parade. It was wet and cold, so we waited out the rain under the bleacher while some folks toughed it out.
Soon the sky was clear and more crowd arrived.
The Bronco Riding
Team roping competition
Gorgeous sunset over the Lost River Range as we say goodbye to Mackay.

We meant to do a driving tour of old mines around Mackay. But the wet weather had dampened our desire to drive on wet dirt roads. Although there are other places to explore near Mackay, it’s time to leave. Next stop is Stanley, Idaho.

9 thoughts

  1. Great post! The snow-capped mountains were beautiful and the rodeo -your first, topped it all off!

    Enjoy Stanley and the surrounding area. Lots of good hiking out there. The Iron Creek Trail just west of Stanley (maybe 5 mi.) offers a great hike up to Sawtooth Lake. You’ll see Apine Lake on the way up. The Ranger station a few mi. south of Stanley can provide lots of info./help. I don’t recall if the Iron Gate trailhead parking will acomodate the big rig -but I doubt it. Seems to me, a section of the Salmon River was known as the River of No Return, dating to Lewis and Clark days.

    I’ll soon be heading to the Wind River area of Wyoming, northern Utah and Santa Fe. Happy Trails/Travels!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great timing on this post as we are heading in that general direction in a couple days and don’t actually know where we’re staying. 😁 I hadn’t heard of this campground before but it sounds like it might work well. Thanks for the info!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your rodeo reminded me of a ride I took up near Grainger. When I was out wandering around I came across a small rodeo right off a dirt road. I saw dogs so I knew I could bring Jack. It looked to me as though they were warming up–there was the littlest boy riding this big horse. I stopped and asked a lady when the rodeo started and she said it had already started. Everyone from the little town must have been IN the rodeo so there were no spectators! A little later in that day I passed beautiful golden fields of wheat–and there was a deer with just his head sticking up out of the field. It was comical.

    Liked by 1 person

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