East Fork Recreation Site
Guide

Introduction

East Fork Recreation Site reflects the best that Idaho has to offer in terms of natural beauty and recreation. The recreation site lies at the meeting point of two rivers; the East Fork Tributary of Salmon River and the River of No Return (Salmon River). The water bodies have turned the surrounding hills and rolling land into green pastures of sagebrush and thick cottonwoods.

East Fork Recreation Site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and blessed with a 20-mile segment of the East Fork Salmon River. This allows outdoor recreationists the opportunity to enjoy waterfront camping, picnicking, and water-based activities. This BLM site is especially renowned for its A-class angling and boating opportunities. The greenery, remoteness and natural allure of the surrounding landscape bring in plenty of tourists.

East Fork Salmon River, in general, is a hub of outdoor recreational activities with several iconic trails running in its midst. Some of them are well-known while others are mysterious and unexplored. All the trailheads are a walking distance away from East Fork Recreation Site and so is the boat ramp and fishing docks.

Visitors have absolutely no problem finding a secluded little corner in nature to screen themselves from the rest of the world at this beautiful river-side destination.

RV Rentals in East Fork Recreation Site

Transportation

Driving

East Fork Recreation Site is located four miles north of Clayton, in Custer County, Idaho, and almost twenty miles southwest of Challis, ID.
From Challis, start driving south on Highway 93 for about two miles before taking a right on Highway 75. Keep driving southwest for nearly seventeen miles. Once you reach the confluence of the East Fork Tributary and the main body of Salmon River, the recreation site can be spotted on your right.
The roads to the recreation site are well-developed and marked for easy navigation. Even larger rigs shouldn't have too much trouble getting there.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in East Fork Recreation Site

Campsites in East Fork Recreation Site

First-come first-served

East Fork Recreation Site Campground

The Bureau of Land Management manages a small campground at East Fork Recreation Site that has a total of eleven campsites. Eight of these campsites can accommodate RVs whereas the remaining three campsites are tent camping only. Each campsite comes with a picnic table, a fire pit area, and a grill. The campground also facilitates campers with potable water, vault toilets, ADA accessible toilets, and garbage collection facilities.

The space around the picnic tables is gravel and so are the driveways. Some of the campsites have a lawn and offer decent shade. The ground on most campsites is very smooth and flat, making it easy to walk on.

A host is present on sites to help out campers. Bring your own firewood. Pets are welcome at this BLM managed campground. The campground also provides fishing access and access to a boat launch area.

Seasonal activities in East Fork Recreation Site

In-Season

Hiking

The gorgeous landscape of East Fork Recreation Site and the surrounding area cannot be enjoyed from one spot. It’s a necessity to hike towards lookout points and scenic spots to fully enjoy the surrounding beauty. East Fork Recreation Site is located in an ideal spot that allows visitors to get access to some of the most famous trailheads in and around Challis, ID.

When staying at East Fork Campground, bring a good pair of hiking boots if you want to take on popular trails like the Little Boulder Creek Trailhead (20.1 miles), Jimmy Smith Lake Trailhead (one mile), Herd Creek trailhead (seven miles), and Sheep Creek Trailhead (three miles).

Boating

Salmon River is well-renowned for its splendid water-based recreational activities, which includes class I and class II boating, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding and more. East Fork Recreation Site provides access to a wide boat ramp area that allows boating enthusiasts to safely launch their crafts into the beautiful waters of the Salmon River.

It is well away from the highway, which makes it remote and secluded. Observe caution when navigating the waters of the East Fork tributary of the Salmon River as there are several submerged cottonwood trees that can cause your watercraft to get stuck or worse, puncture its hull.

Fishing

There are several streams, ponds, and reservoirs located within walking distance from the campground where anglers can enjoy some relaxing and rewarding fishing activities. Cutthroat, rainbow trout, whitefish, and steelhead are some of the most common fish species found in the river waters and surrounding streams and ponds.

The setting of the location with its various water bodies and high mountains in the distance provides a serene setting that heightens the overall fishing experience. You’ll need a fishing license to fish anywhere in Idaho.

Off-Season

OHV Trails

OHV riders are lured to East Fork Recreation Site as it offers access to several legendary OHV trails. A multitude of trails can be found in the area including the Jimmy Smith Lake Trail, a famous trail that runs along the renowned fishing hole region.

Then there’s the Pennal Gulch Trail, that many people claim to be one of the prettiest trails one can ride on. It’s less crowded and less known about, but just as beautiful and scenic as some of the famous trails found in the Grand Canyon National Park. Lombard Trail, Bayhorse Mine Area at Bayhorse Recreation Site, and Snake Ridge Trail are some of the other OHV trails that can be easily accessed from East Fork Recreation Site.

Wildlife

As you camp and picnic at East Fork Recreation Site, be sure to stay vigilant and you just might catch sight of bighorn sheep roaming about. If you wish to observe mule deer in the wild then try to spot them under the willows and along the banks of the river. Rocky Mountain Elk is also native to this region and can be spotted hiding amidst the vegetation.

Hunting is allowed in the region and If you wish to hunt for big game animals, the best time is from dusk to dawn when the animals are busy heading to and from the river.

Photography

The East Fork tributary of Salmon River is renowned for its unique beauty. The surrounding area is expansive, far away from roads and highways and provides an undisturbed view of the towering mountain ranges in the distance. Additionally, the water of East Fork itself is clear and blue, allowing photographers to capture vivid images of nature. Adding to a photographer’s palette is plenty of surrounding wildlife that features soaring birds and a variety of other forest animals.