RVers and recreation seekers searching for a prime camping location near Idaho’s Snake River should add Lake Walcott State Park to the list of must-visit state parks in south-central Idaho. Lake Walcott State Park, located in Rupert, is surrounded by water, creating an oasis amidst the agricultural farmland and high desert terrain. The elevation of the park and the semi-arid climate creates dry and hot summers and moderate winters, which gives visitors more chances to visit year-round.
The campground offers many RV guests waterfront views of Lake Walcott. The reservoir, formed from the construction of the Minidoka Dam, is an 11,000-acre impoundment of the Snake River. The park, known for its scenery, recreation, and abundant wildlife, is the perfect blend of outdoor opportunity as well as an unobstructed, serene camping experience.
Lake Walcott State Park is different than many state parks because the park sits within the protected lands of the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge. Half of the large 20,699-acre refuge is open water and wetlands with the other half consisting of rolling uplands covered in sagebrush, grass, juniper, and basalt, making the varied landscape the ideal habitat for waterfowl, reptiles, and mammals. Guests who visit parks hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife will find both Lake Walcott State Park and the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge some of the best wildlife viewing and bird watching locations in Idaho.
Lake Walcott State Park is located 11 miles northeast of Rupert, and 133 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho. From Salt Lake City, Utah, the park is located 191 miles north.
Campers bringing boats or trailers must be able to fit their equipment within the campsite parking area. Any equipment that does not fit in its entirety must be parked outside the campground in an area designated by the park manager.
Visitors and guests must pay a daily entrance fee of five dollars per car. Camping fees are an additional cost.
The Lake Walcott RV Campground operates year-round and is a pet-friendly facility. The paved driveways are both back in and pull through, and can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 91 feet in length. Each space has 30 amp electrical service and water as well as a fire pit, grill grate, and a picnic table. One space, generally reserved for a campground host, has full hookups. The campground provides guests with restrooms, showers, and a dump station. Please ensure you silence all noise making equipment, including generators, between the hours of 10:00 pm and 7:00 am.
Disc golf is one of the park’s most popular pastimes. Whether you have tried the unique sport or not, the course is set up to challenge many different levels of players. The park often hosts disc golf tournaments and events, so if you are staying at the park and want to learn the rules of the sport, venture over to the course to see what golfing with discs is all about. The course is a 21-hole, moderately wooded and mainly flat course over grassy terrain. There are clearly posted signs that indicate course information along the route. The course, designed with rubber tees and DISCatcher holes, is a pay to play activity, but guests staying in the park who’ve already paid the daily entry fee do not need to pay again to play disc golf. Visit the Nature Store for disc golf supplies.
Idaho’s Junior Ranger Program, a program designed for ages 6-12, aims to teach kids the importance of keeping the state parks beautiful. Kids learn to identify unique plants and animals, keep the park clean, and learn safe practices on and near trails, rivers, and lakes. Part of the program encourages kids to attend the park’s special events and interpretive programs. Interested guests should pick up a Junior Ranger guide, explore the park, and earn stamps and prizes for completing activities along the way. Although this program is aimed at kids, it’s an activity the entire family will enjoy.
Just like the Junior Ranger Program, the Experience Idaho Loaner Backpack Program was developed to get kids outside and exploring nature. Bring your family to the park and plan on spending plenty of time outside, learning about Idaho’s scenic landscape and natural resources. When you arrive at the park, stop by the park office to ask about the Experience Idaho Loaner Backpack Program. Kids can borrow a backpack filled with items meant to encourage kids to explore the park and learn about the area. The packs are free of charge and for use during your stay.
The Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Walcott State Park is a prime birdwatching area. Because the reserve runs along the Snake River, the islands and the surrounding marshland is the perfect habitat for many species of birds. Between March through December, the area sees waterfowl, waterbirds, raptors, songbirds, and shorebirds at varying times during the birdwatching season. The Wildlife Refuge tracks the migratory and habitat patterns of the birds, so birdwatchers will have an idea of which birds have been seen in the vicinity and when these birds are most visible. Some of the unusual birds seen in the refuge are bald eagles, osprey, Swainson’s hawks, trumpeter swans, and long-billed curlews.
For many anglers, fishing in the Snake River is a bucket list item. Lake Walcott State Park is a perfect place to park your RV for a few days and spend time in the river, or even on the lake. Anglers ages 14 and older who have a valid fishing license are permitted to fish year-round from the banks of the Snake River or Lake Walcott. When the water is frozen over, anglers may ice fish. There are regulations and restrictions limiting boat fishing during certain times of the year. Be prepared and understand the fishing rules by visiting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website, or by asking a member of the park staff.
The Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge is home to many different species of animals and birds. Because of the varied animal population, the refuge is a desirable hunting area. All hunters must follow Idaho’s guidelines for hunting and ensure they’ve completed the proper steps to hunt in the vicinity legally. Some of the most commonly hunted waterfowl are pheasants, gray partridge, grouse, ducks, and geese. Hunters also might like to hunt for upland game bird or rabbits. For information on hunting season, licenses, limits, boundaries, and other pertinent information, contact the Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.