Campsite Review: Bell Bay Campground is at the end of Bell Bay Road three miles west of Highway 97. This is a simple description. Not so simple. Getting to Bell Bay isn’t really all that easy. Bell Bay Campground is at about the half way point on the east shore of Lake Cour d’Alene. There isn’t really an easy way to get there.
The Hard Way – Shorter
From the north, Highway 97 follows the edge of Lake Cour d’Alene and has very few straight sections. It took more than one hour to drive thirty miles. The road is very narrow and tight. Everyone who enjoys twisty roads should drive Highway 97 IN A CAR. In a 40′ motorhome this is in the top three bad paved roads we have encountered in the last three years. (The problem isn’t the pavement, it is the never-ending curves)
The Easy Way – Longer, much easier
From the east, take Highway 3 south of Interstate 90 to Highway 97 and then turn north on Highway 97 to Bell Bay Road.
From the south, take Highway 5 east from Saint Maries and then north on Highway 3 to Highway 97.
We arrived at the campground after taking the hard way and were exhausted. We departed using the newly scouted easy way and would only take the easy way next time.
Final Three Miles
Depart Highway 97 westbound on East Point Road, at first, the road turns to dirt and then changes back to asphalt but becomes only one lane wide for more than a mile. We don’t know how we would have been able to get around another car on the narrow stretch — and there was no place to turn around, before getting to the campground. Still, we made it fine, due to not encountering another car during the passage.
There are two completely different loops at Bell Bay Campground. The upper loop is reserved for group camping with a few individual sites. The lower loop nearest to the lake is for individual sites. We hiked up to the upper loop and it was much roomier, and more private, than the lower loop but is just a spot in the forest without views.
The lower loop also has two docks on the water and a short steep trail leading to the water. There is no boat ramp or an easy way for us to take our kayaks to the water.
We really like camping at Bell Bay Campground even though it was difficult to get to and lacked easy access to the lake.
Address: Bell Bay Road, Harrison, ID 83833
Link to Google Map for the area: Bell Bay Campground
Phone Number/Reservations: (877) 444-6777 email and chat also available
Dates stayed: August 6-12, 2020
Comfort: Temperatures were cool after a cold front on the day of our arrival. High 75 degrees, low the next morning was 50 degrees, as the week progressed both the temperatures were warmer.
Season: Mid May through September
Price Paid: $10.50 per night, plus “transaction” fee. Here is a link to the article I wrote on how I get such a low price. FoxRVTravel-Snippet: America The Beautiful Pass
Our Site: #16, the front of our RV faced the lake, with a view of the lake
Dump station: No
Restrooms: Pit toilets no running water
Shower: Bring your own
Laundry: Are you kidding?
Potable Water: Yes
Water to fill your RV storage tank: No
Cell service: Verizon – weak service / AT&T – no service
FoxRVTravel-Campsite Review: Bell Bay Campground insider info:
The lower loop of Bell Bay Campground is a simple loop. We fit fine in site #16. Sites #13, 14, 15 would have been fine. We would fit in site #4 but it has a very bad odor from the pit toilet. All RVs should avoid sites #6-11 which are just on the side of the road. We would also avoid site #3 because it is a pull through that has a curve in the site and we don’t have a hinge in the middle of our RV.
The upper loop was closed earlier in the summer because of the extreme fire danger. The upper loop was closed during our stay.
Bell Bay Campground is very close to two major recreation opportunities at Lake Cour d’Alene. The first thing is the lake accessed by returning to Highway 97 and turning south towards Harrison. Harrison is a very small town which about a hundred years ago was the biggest town in the region. Along the way to Harrison, you cross Harrison Slough and the valley towards the east has numerous lakes and rails to trails conversion bike path. This valley is full of interesting locations and wildlife.
While at Bell Bay we visited Harrison and kayaked on Thompson Lake.
Layout & Satellite Views
The campground layout map at recreation.gov (below) is completely wrong at many levels. We reserved site #16 in the lower loop which is represented by the number in the upper left corner of the map. Site number #16 is actually the campsite at the lower right-hand corner of the on the inside of the main loop.