If you are looking for the chance to get into the outdoors in a secluded and quiet setting, with spectacular views, you need look no further than Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park, located in Idaho near the border with Washington. At 5,300 acres McCroskey is the second largest park in the state, but it is not as heavily trafficked as some of the smaller parks in Idaho. For those willing and able to make the trip, the reward is access to wildlife, scenery and outdoor activities.
The centerpiece of the park is 18-mile-long Skyline Drive, which runs through the park from north to south along the top of Skyline Ridge. The drive provides unparalleled views of two major ecological zones, the prairie to the west and mountains to the east. Dense cedar forest covers the first part of the route, giving way gradually to Ponderosa pine. The road ends in an area of Palouse prairie. The entire drive is unimproved and not suitable for large RVs. Before starting the drive assess how well your car may do on rough gravel and dirt roads.
Skyline Drive gives park visitors access to approximately 30 miles of trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The park also offers campgrounds, picnic sites and a group shelter. All facilities in the park are primitive so be prepared for rough trails and pit toilets. The one source of potable water in the park is located at about the midpoint of the road. In addition to the three campgrounds, roadside camping is permitted. Firewood may be gathered in the park but you must purchase a permit in order to do so. There is also a fee for reserving the group shelter.
Because of the park’s remote location and low traffic, wildlife is abundant. Visitors can see moose, black bear and deer as well as smaller mammals. McCroskey is also a prime site for birdwatching. Expect to see flycatchers, vireos, thrushes and warblers among other species of songbirds. Upland birds include the ruffed grouse. The park also is home to a variety of hawks, such as the Sharp-Shinned and Cooper’s hawks, as well as the Northern Goshawk.
The park was donated to the State of Idaho in 1955 by Virgil T. McCroskey, who built most of the facilities himself and maintained the park for the state until he was 93 years old. He named the park for his mother and dedicated it to the memory of the pioneer women who settled Idaho.
McCroskey State Park is located along the border of Idaho and Washington, south of Plummer and 26 miles north of Moscow. It is best reached by taking Highway 95 north from Potlatch or south from Plummer.
Maps, directions and more information may be found at the park website: