The South Fork of the Snake River flows for 66 miles across southeastern Idaho, through high mountain valleys, rugged canyons, and broad flood plains to its confluence with the Henry’s Fork of the Snake near Menan Buttes. It begins flowing northwest from Palisades Dam in Swan Valley.
The South Fork supports the largest riparian cottonwood gallery forest in the West and is among the most unique and bio-diverse ecosystems in Idaho. There are 19 bald eagle nesting territories along the South Fork, three peregrine falcon eyries, twenty-two occurrences of the Ute ladies’-tresses orchid, and a breeding population of the rare yellow billed cuckoo. These threatened and endangered species are dependent upon the rich ecosystems of the South Fork. The South Fork is also home to 126 bird species, including 21 raptors (birds of prey) which resulted in its “National Important Bird Area” designation. The river supports the largest native cutthroat fishery outside of Yellowstone National Park. The corridor is also home for an impressive array of wildlife including moose, deer, elk, mountain goats, mountain lions, black bear, bobcats, coyotes, river otter, beaver, fox, mink, weasel, and raccoon. Since 1985, the river has been eligible for inclusion in the nation’s Wild and Scenic River System.
Land ownership in the corridor is a mixture of Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDF&G), State of Idaho, counties, and private interests. An intergovernmental approach to collecting fees is practiced. This system creates improved communications between agencies and between agencies and the public.
The South Fork is known throughout the country as a premier blue ribbon trout fishery. The river receives over 300,000 visits each year, with recreationists enjoying fishing, camping, hiking, and boating. There are ten developed boat access sites, three developed campgrounds, numerous dispersed sites, and a number of private facilities along the 66-mile stretch of river.