Underwriting provided by:
The Laura Moore Cunningham


Brett High, Idaho Fish and Game fisheries biologist, holding up a trout in a boat on the South Fork of the Snake River [Credit: Kris Millgate]

The main vein of the Palisades Ranger District is the South Fork of the Snake River. The mainstay of the South Fork is trout. In the summer, fins they are a-rising. "A state record has come off this river — 26 lbs," says LaMoyne Hyde, Hyde Drift Boats owner. "Have I ever hooked one that size? No. Not that I know of, but it's still a river that [where] you catch 15, 20, 25 fish a day is still very doable for an average fisherman."

Rainbows, browns and native cutthroat trout are all eager to feast on dry flies through the main channel and the tributaries. The fish make the water famous, but when it comes to water rights, farms have higher priority than fish. Fortunately, irrigation improvements along the river are now helping fish without hurting farms. Pivots continue to pump water into fields, but fish no longer wash into those same fields along with the water. "They're sucking quite a bit of water off this stream every year for irrigation purposes," says Matt Woodard, Trout Unlimited. "If we can eliminate those fish from being lost, that's a big deal."

Trail crew clearing Big Elk Creek trail [Credit: Kris Millgate]

The other big deal is dirt-related. A dusty line up of laborers make up the Palisades Ranger District trail crew. They live in the woods for eight days at a time. They clear 150 miles of trail every summer. "It can be hard work. You gotta have a different idea of what you like to do to be out here," says Dave Woodcock, U.S. Forest Service trails coordinator. "I've had some kids that thought they wanted to be trailhands and it just wasn't their cup of tea."

This 'out of the office' job is less than glamorous, but there is no rush hour traffic and the view is as close to glorious as it gets.

** South Fork of the Snake River