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Fall Creek Falls @ Daryl L. Hunter
Fly-fishing the South Fork of the Snake River below Fall Creek Falls in Swan Valley Idaho

Swan Valley, Irwin and Palisades are the communities that comprise the scenic valley that nestle along the banks of the South Fork of the Snake River below Palisades Dam, collectively known as Swan Valley, one of the premier tail water dry-fly fisheries in North America but trophy trout fishing isn’t the only game in town. With the Big Hole Range to the north, the Caribou Mountains to the south and the Palisades Range to the east provide splendid panoramas and year-round outdoor activities are a magnet for sportsmen and adventurers.

On the south side of Swan Valley is the twenty-mile long Palisades Reservoir which provides great fishing, water sports, ice fishing and stunning scenery as it is hemmed in by the peaks of the Snake River Range and The Caribou Mountain Range. Many marvel at the paucity of boats on such a beautiful lake. There is a popular hotspring up Bear Creek that is a popular 8-mile round trip hike.

The Caribou Mountains are laced with backcountry roads and so access is quite easy. The Fall Creek Drainage has become a magnet for mountain bikers and always was for off highway vehicle enthusiasts and has been their popular camping/riding destination because of its vast network of trails.

The Snake River Range has become, a possibly too popular, spot as a hiking and horseback trail riding as the scenery there is stunning. However, if you go deep enough into the Palisades Wilderness Study Area you will find solitude.

Full Moon over the South Fork of the Snake River, Swan Valley, Idaho

The northwestern end of the Big Hole Mountains are laced with a network of dirt roads but the south end by Swan Valley as all access by trail only. The Big Holes are an awesome getaway for the hiker, horseback rider, and the ATV rider.

Many ranches of the valley have been subdivided, but there are still several ranches around to keep Swan Valley’s cowboy heritage alive. I do venture to say that a culture of fly-fisherman has largely supplanted the cowboy though.

The surrounding mountains are home to elk, deer, mountain goats, black and grizzly bears. Swan Valley is on the south side of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and so shares many wild assets as Yellowstone itself. The mountains and valleys have tremendous hunting, and the many mountain streams are all full of wild cutthroat trout.

This valley of about 700 residents is an outdoorsman’s paradise but not much else. It has a few restaurants, bars, fly shops, motels and fishing lodges but then that is about all an outdoorsman needs.


Cover Idaho Magazine - Fall Creek Falls, Swan Valley Idaho
Daryl L. Hunter the publisher of this web site wrote this article about Swan Valley For Idaho Magazine


Podunk Perfect
A Tourist Town Escapee FindsNirvana in Eastern Idaho
By Daryl L. Hunter

Carved by the South Fork of the Snake River between the Caribou Range to the west and the Snake River Range and Big Hole Range to the east, it is crowned by twenty-mile-long Palisades Reservoir to the south. It seemed to me a suitable place to land. I had driven through the valley often from my home in Jackson Hole, because Idaho Falls was where the affordable shopping was. I liked the valley because podunk places have always attracted me. Even so, Swan Valley’s abundant charm hadn’t jumped out at me, because everywhere in the Greater Yellowstone region is like this, and as much as you try to fish and hike every location, it just isn’t possible.

After I finally took a closer took, I made an offer on my future home, cast a fly upon the waters of the South Fork of the Snake, and in no time at all had a writhing, two-pound rainbow tail danc­ing across an eddy as the fish tried for the fast water a short distance away. Ah, ha! I had heard the South Fork was a better fishery than the Upper Snake, but had never bothered to try it. Now I was hooked..................Rest Of Story


South Fork Lodge, rest in peace

Old South Fork Lodge; RIP

Once upon a time there was an awesome fishing lodge on the South Fork of the Snake River, started dozens of years ago by Buell Warner, a cantankerous and colorful western character who spawned stories of trophy hunting, fishing and poaching.

The lodge was on the north bank of the Snake River and like many lodges of the day it was a rough and rowdy place to drink and stay while fishing or hunting in Swan Valley. Catching trophy trout or hunting by day and reveling about tales maybe not so tall of the exploits of Buell at night was a fine way to spend time in the mountains of eastern Idaho.

Buell's son Spence bought the lodge in 1976. Spence was another colorful character, not quite as outrageous as his father, but quite the jolly host and entrepreneur with his own repertoire of stories to be told to the eager listener who dropped by to wet a line.---------> rest of story


Swan Valley News
Greater Swan Valley Comprehensive Plan
  Community planning in America began during colonial times when it became necessary to provide public services such as streets, public buildings, and plans for cities and towns as the nation grew. Over time, legal standards were adopted for fair and equitable development and use of the land in public and private sectors of our society. By the early 1800ês, planning standards had been developed for large cities including the new national capital of Washington, D.C. The capital plan set general standards for development which are still used today. During the early 1900ês, concepts of planning and zoning for areas beyond the cities were established through the adoption of a body of land use laws at the national, state, and local levels of government.
Clarification of Rainbow Trout Stocking in the South Fork
By Idaho Game and Fish

With the focus in recent months on encouraging rainbow trout harvest in the South Fork of the Snake River there has been some confusion about IDFGês rainbow trout stocking practices that warrant clarification. True, until the early 1980ês IDFG was guilty of stocking rainbow trout into the South Fork and some of the tributaries. Although it was clearly a mistake in retrospect, it was done to meet a demand for harvest and provide a diverse fishery. Unfortunately, thirty years ago biologists did not recognize the threat rainbow trout pose to native cutthroat trout.

Since the early 1980ês IDFG has not stocked rainbow trout in the South Fork, the tributaries, or in Palisades Reservoir. This would clearly be in conflict with our goal of managing the South Fork for native cutthroat trout. Some of the confusion is likely related to the stocking database on the IDFG website. The website lists that South Fork as having been stocked with rainbow trout as recently as 2000. These fish were all stocked in the Dry Bed, below the Great Feeder diversion. Because these fish did not have access to the South Fork and were sterile triploids incapable of interbreeding with cutthroat trout, they pose no threat to the South Fork cutthroat population. Regardless, this program has also been recently terminated because of poor return-to-creel.

IDFG is sincerely committed to cutthroat trout conservation in the South Fork. The efforts depend on anglers playing an active role in suppressing rainbow trout. It is therefore vital that anglers know their efforts are not being undermined by counterproductive stocking practices by IDFG.

The Resort Town Curse
Daryl L. Hunter
  I have lived in many resort towns and I have noticed a trend. I am attracted to them when they are still little, quaint and undiscovered but it usually isn't long before word spreads about the next great place.

Yellowstone News

The Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide suports Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. Wyoming Wildlife Advocates formed to promote a rational, science-based approach to wildlife management throughout the state of Wyoming. WWA will encourage policies that will maintain a healthy, natural balance — or dynamic equilibrium —between predator and prey species. We acknowledge that fluctuations occur among populations, but we believe this is natural and that the hand of man must lay lightly upon the reins.
Wyoming Wildlife Advocates,
Joe Medicine Crow
Joe Medicine Crow

"Warrior and living legend, Joe Medicine Crow, wants President Obama to protect the Crow's "Brother Grizzly".

CROW AGENCY—As the Crow Nation prepares for the 97th Annual Crow Fair Celebration, the tribe's centenarian and "living history," Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow, wants those about to transform Crow Agency into the "Teepee Capital of the World" to remember a brother of the Crow people who is in need.

"Grizzly bears, we call them our brothers," says Dr. Medicine Crow. "They play an important part in our culture and we'd like to keep it that way."

Dr. Medicine Crow's comments are in response to the Obama Administration's US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that is expected to announce a new rule this fall to delist the Yellowstone grizzly bear from the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Delisting the grizzly will enable the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to open trophy-hunting seasons on the bear, a being many tribes consider sacred..... Rest of Article

Death of a Man. . . Death of a Bear
By Keith Crowley

Trying to make sense of last week's fatal Grizzly bear attack on a hiker in Yellowstone National Park and it's aftermath is a fool's errand. But this fool is going to try anyway.

This kind of story wrenches it's way deep into the psyche of all who spend time in the wilds. And it certainly wrenched its way deep into my soul since I spend months each year in Yellowstone and the surrounding Grizzly Country. To make it even more personal, ... rest of article

Blaze, grizzly that ate man
Blaze the grizzly and her 2011 cub Hobo

Yellowstone roadside grizzlies worth rangers' hassle???

Yellowstone visitors would pay an additional $41 to ensure seeing roadside grizzlies, a study shows, and the attraction creates 155 jobs and more than $10 million a year for the regional economy. The $41 visitors would pay is on top of the $25-per-vehicle entrance fee. If Yellowstone no longer allowed grizzly bears to use roadside habitat — and instead chased, moved or killed them — the regional economy would lose more than $10 million a year and 155 jobs according to the paper "The economics of roadside bear viewing."............................Rest of story

A Case for CollarsBy Keith Crowley

As a wildlife photographer I have a real love/hate relationship with radio telemetry collars.  All photographers live in a world of aesthetics, and most wildlife photographers try capture natural animal behavior in natural settings with as little apparent human influence as possible. Even something as ephemeral as a jet's vapor trail in the sky can destroy a wild image. The permanence of collars (and ear tags, too) placed by human hands on wild animals is impossible to ignore.......................For my part, I think are few truly valid reasons not to collar wolves in Yellowstone. But there is also one really good one, and in the interest of open discussion, some points are worth of story

wolf photo gallery, wolf photos for sale

Helpful ebook for photographers

The Grand Teton Photo and Field Guide is an encapsulation of the flora, fauna, and photography of Jackson Hole Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. Also included are thumbnails of the history and geology of the valley. This book is for all visitors with a desire to seek out wildlife, photograph the landscape, or merely learn about the history, geology, and lay of the land of Grand Teton National Park. The author provides general overviews including hot links with more in-depth descriptions of subjects of individual interest.

In the “Lay of the Land” section, includes the obvious highlights along the loop through Grand Teton Park. Hot links to side roads will give you more in-depth description of side roads and feeder roads and their highlights. Also included are descriptions of all two-rut roads that are legal to travel on in Grand Teton Park. GPS links to Google Maps are provided throughout.

As a field guide, profiles of most of animals and birds in the area are described. Jackson Hole is full of wildlife but there are places where animals are, and there are places where they are not. It is a waste of time to scrutinize a landscape devoid of what you are looking for, so this guide narrows options down to the hot spots. I provide maps of the likeliest places to find the popular critters of Grand Teton National Park. I also touch on trees, shrubs, and wildflowers with minimal explanations.  

The grandeur of Grand Teton Park has made it one of the most photographed places in the world. The opportunity to harness multiple juxtapositional elements has drawn photographers for over a century since William Henry Jackson took the first photos here in 1878. Grand Teton Park’s plethora of famous vistas are profiled as well as many which are less clichéd that can bring new perspectives of a well-documented landscape. Grand Tetons’ iconic landscape photo opportunities are described in detail; however, they barely scratch the surface of opportunities as it takes a photographer with an artist’s eye to unveil as they follow their own intuition and vision.  The author who shies away from clichéd landscapes provides a chapter of his favorite places that aren’t landscape clichés.

In the photography section the author includes chapters on composition, exposure basics, when to shoot and why. Daryl has summarized what he teaches in his, half day, Grand Teton workshops in a simple concise way.

If you are only in Grand Teton Park for a day there is a chapter called the “Portfolio Packer Morning Trip,” that does just that, all the icons and several favorite places in a five our blitz.  But it is better to spend more time and dig deep into the embarrassment of riches of Grand Teton National Park................. More Info

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