The Fish Creek Reservoir is a small, three-hundred and fifty acre stretch of water near Carey in Idaho. The reservoir, which sits between the Sawtooth National Forest and the Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The reservoir is impounded by the Fish Creek Dam which curves across Fish Creek for one-thousand seven-hundred feet. The dam was built in the early 1920s and has been included on the National Register for Historic Places.
Water levels in the Fish Creek Reservoir are unreliable, and its often at its maximum level only during the springtime. It's still a popular place for fishermen and boaters though - except for when the lake is occasionally drained for irrigation purposes. The reservoir is located in a scenic landscape dominated in part by the rugged Pioneer Mountain Range that is visible to the east. The highest peak in the range is Blizzard Mountain, a popular winter ski area.
The land around the reservoir is relatively flat, making it good for non-strenuous hiking. The terrains are also popular with hunters in search of bagging whatever wildlife they can find which could vary between a rabbit, waterfowl, or some bighorn sheep, mule deer or pronghorn antelope. There is a small primitive campground at the Fish Creek Reservoir, but as there is only space for five vehicles, these soon get full when the lake is at capacity or it's hunting season.
The Fish Creek Reservoir is half an hour's drive north from the town of Carey and just under one hour's drive south from Arco along the US 26. To reach the reservoir, it's necessary to follow the Fish Creek Reservoir Road off the US 26 for about seven miles. The junction is between Carey Lake Wildlife Management Area and the Wild Rose Natural Hot Springs. The road is negotiable in a small rig though not too good for anything over twenty-five feet. Anyone towing a boat trailer is advised to take it slowly.
If you've been RV camping in the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Park, once you're on the I 84 and through Mountain Home heading for Shoshone, expect to be on the road for around two hours and fifteen minutes. If you're heading to the reservoir from the south after camping out in the Ashley National Forest, get through Salt Lake City and you'll have about four hours of motoring left to go.
There are multiple RV campgrounds in the Sawtooth National Forest, but not all are located within a reasonable driving distance of the Fish Creek Reservoir. One of the closest is the North Fork Campground eight miles north of the town of Ketchum along state highway 75. It's approximately one and a half hour's drive from the reservoir. The maximum length of rig the campground can accommodate is forty feet. Roadways inside the campground are surfaced with gravel.
The campground has twenty-five unpaved pitches in a picturesque woodland setting next to the Big Wood River. The campsites are all standard non-electric with picnic tables and grills. On-site amenities are basic and limited to vault toilets and drinking water. Dump station services are available at the Sawtooth National Recreation Area Visitor Center which is a half a mile drive from the campground.
The North Fork Campground operates from mid-May to mid-September only. The first week of the season is first-come-first-served, but the rest of the time reservations must be made before arriving. Campsites can be reserved via the recreation.gov website.
There are no defined trails at the Fish Creek Reservoir, but you'll find the flatlands around the shoreline make for a pleasurable stroll. A complete circuit of the lake isn't possible, but it's enough to get some fresh air and a good leg stretch with some pleasant scenery to enjoy.
If you're looking for more arduous trekking, try the Craters of the Moon National Preserve. That location will have you hiking through volcanic landscapes along trails with names like the Inferno Cone and the Devil's Orchard. There's also good hiking routes around the Wild Rose Natural Hot Springs.
If there's not enough wildlife for you to spot at the Fish Creek Reservoir, head over to the Silver Creek Preserve near Picabo. It's just half an hour west of the reservoir and there you'll have the opportunity to spot over one hundred and fifty varieties of birds, including several species of raptor.
The protected area is home to many large mammals too, so keep an eye out for predators like coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions. If you're an angler, you'll be in paradise as there's some excellent trout fishing to be had in the preserve.
Even though the water level in the Fish Creek Reservoir is at times unreliable, many anglers head there to hook some pretty decent sized fish. The reservoir usually has a good population of both large and smallmouth bass, brook and bull trout, muskie, sturgeon and kokanee salmon as well as walleye and whitefish.
Regulations on bag size set by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game apply unless otherwise removed at times when the lake is going to be drained when there are no catch restrictions. Notices of the special rules to catches during these periods are posted on the official website.
You can find out more about the area surrounding the Fish Creek Reservoir by taking a look inside the Robert Limbert Visitor Center. The center is just half an hour east of the reservoir by road on the border of the Craters of the Moon National Preserve.
The center has exhibits on the geology of the area and a collection of historical photographs as well as in-depth presentations about author and explorer, Robert Limbert.
When you're RV camping in the vicinity of the Fish Creek Reservoir, there are two incredible natural spectacles you won't want to miss seeing. One is the Shoshone Falls and the second, the Shoshone Ice Caves. Shoshone Falls are even higher than the Niagara Falls and an incredible spread of cascading water over one thousand feet wide that flows in torrents from two levels of the Snake River.
The Shoshone Ice Cave is an underground desert cavern so cold that stalagmites and stalactites of ice form there all year round. There's even a mini-glacier around a thousand feet long one hundred feet below the surface. Guided tours of the cave take around forty-five minutes and are run during the open season from May to the end of September.
There are lots of opportunities to get active during the wintertime around Fish Creek Reservoir. On Blizzard Mountain, you'll find the Blizzard Mountain Ski Area. It's a small resort with one ski-lift that will carry you up the mountainside so you can slalom down the slopes while enjoying some amazing views of the Snake River Plains.
There are also abundant winter sport opportunities on groomed trails in the Craters of the Moon National Preserve where you can snowshoe, cross country ski, or sled to your heart's content amid the stark contrast of black volcanic rock against the drifts of pure white snow.