The South Fork of the Snake River Boat Launch List with Interactive Map

A Complete List of Boat Ramps on the South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho

You will find every South Fork of the Snake boat launch mentioned in this article on an interactive map at the very bottom of this page.

I have listed all public boat launches for 50+ miles of river from the beginning of the South Fork of the Snake at Palisades dam, all the way down to highway 20 near Rexburg Idaho. They are listed in order from upstream to downstream.

South fork of the snake river canyon

Palisades Dam

Paliades dam on the south fork of the snake riverThe South for of the Snake river officially begins here at the Palisades dam. After it’s humble beginnings in Yellowstone National park, the Snake river falls into Palisades reservoir; once it exits at the dam it becomes the south fork. This river is bar none one of the greatest trout fishing rivers on the planet. Controlled by the dam and filtered through the long reservoir, this amazing fishery doesn’t experience dirty water from runoff anything like the upper snake near Jackson Wyoming. The water is controlled and is normally predictable, however anything can happen and the flow rate of the river can change drastically with the flip of a switch at the dam.

The float from dam to the Spring creek bridge is a typical one day excursion and the fish in this stretch can be very temperamental.   Any change in the rate of flow can generally be expected to screw up fishing bigtime. This stretch of river usually produces the biggest fish in the system on average and can really provide truly huge fish. You can expect a mixture of brown trout, rainbows and cutthroats on this section, with a large specimen of any species probable at any moment.

This “upper” section will rarely produce huge quantities of fish like many of the lower sections of the south fork, but the size more than makes up for it. A trophy hunter looking for a massive fish should seek it in this area, because they are here in full force!

Husky or Palisades Creek Boat Launch

Husky or Palisades creek boat launch on the South fork of the snake river in Idaho

Husky or Palisades creek boat launch on the South fork of the snake river in Idaho

Palisades creek boat launch on the south fork of the snake river

A view of “Husky” or palisades creek launch from the river.

This Launch is right across the road from Huskies gas station on the upper south fork. It has a nice concrete launch with a floating dock and bathrooms available. It has several campsites in the back end and is pretty easy to use.

Irwin

Irwin boat launch on the south fork of the snake river.This small and very rustic launch is in the small town of Irwin Idaho. If you don’t have a 4×4 you might want to reconsider launching your boat here. It is a long “slide” style launch, you can use this ramp if you don’t have 4 wheel drive, but you will scratch the bottom of your boat up pretty bad on the slide. If you have a fancy wooden boat that you care a lot about I would choose husky launch a few miles upstream.

A rustic dirt slide boat launch in Irwin Idaho on the Snake river

As you can see by the narrow and steep gravel down to the river, this is a 4 wheel drive vehicle launch or a durable boat “slide” boat launch.

Irwin boat launch from the river

Irwin boat launch view from the river

Spring Creek Bridge (Bridge in Swan Valley)

Spring creek bridge in Swan valley Idaho

This is the view upstream from the bridge. The boat launch is just upstream of the bridge on river left. (bottom right corner of the picture)

This is a popular takeout for people floating the upper section of the river. It is also a typical starting point for floating the canyon or “middle” section of the south fork. This is a well established boat launch with a concrete ramp and small outhouse type bathrooms.

Conant

Conant boat launch in Swan valley Idaho

This large launch has very nice bathrooms and 2 lanes for launching your boat. It has a long floating dock and a huge parking area. This is a common starting point for people who embark on a 2 day float trip (a night of camping in a designated site on the river) down to byington launch. Floating from conant boat launch to byington is about 25 miles of river, so it makes a perfect length for 2 full days of fishing on the south fork of the snake.

Cottonwood (Fullmer)

Fullmer aka "cottonwood" boat launch on the South fork of the Snake river in Idaho

Fullmer aka “cottonwood” boat launch on the South fork of the Snake river in Idaho

This launch in a very rustic area of the south fork is on the north side of the river, which makes the drive out very long. The only bridge to cross in the area is Heise and that is a solid 45 minutes of dirt road driving before you reach concrete when you get close to the highway (26).

Wolverine

Wolverine boat launch on the South Fork of the Snake river.

A view of Wolverine boat launch on the South fork from the river as I passed by. This photo was taken on Aug. 26 2014

This extremely rustic and well hidden launch is rarely used. The runoff from spring of 2014 took a toll on this and I am not sure if anyone has used it so far this year (as I type this in late August 2014). I was just there a few days ago looking around and it had no signs of use.  As you can see from the image above there is no easy taper to this launch anymore.  I would avoid taking your drift boat out at this launch if you aren’t already familiar with it’s location, because it is very easy to miss the narrow opening in the thick trees on the bank.

Wolf

Wolf boat launch on the South fork of the Snake river

This dirt launch has no facilities other than a parking area and an overflow parking area to the east of the launch a couple hundred yards. Floating from Wolf down to Byington is about 2 hours of fishing, you could also float from Wolf to Heise bridge for about a solid 5 hour fishing trip.

Byington

Byington boat launch near Ririe Idaho

A massive launch on the left side of the river. This is the biggest boat launch on the South Fork of the Snake, and the preferred launch for power boat users. It has 2 large lanes, 2 long docks and sits right in a slow eddy,

Raft launch and shuttle waiting area at Byington boat launch, Idaho.

Raft launch and shuttle waiting area at Byington boat launch, Idaho.

making this an extremely easy launch site. It has well kept bathrooms and even a raft launch and shuttle boat waiting area just upstream from the main launch. You will know you are coming close to the ramp when you pass through a large rapid next to a irrigation diversion channel. As soon as you see the small launch for the raft and shuttle area, you should hustle over to the left side of the river.

Heise

Heise bridge boat launch on the South Fork of the Snake river in Heise Idaho

The boat launch at Heise bridge is on the left side of the river in a backwater area. You can see the entrance to the backwater on the left edge of this picture.

Heise bridge is a common place to launch a boat to float down to Lorenzo. It is about 7 hours of floating/fishing with many small stops on riffles etc. taken into consideration. Straight floating nonstop would be closer to 5 hours.  This lower section of river is filled with fallen trees and a bunch of small side channels, making it a dangerous area for people not familiar with it. If you stay in the main channel and pay close attention you should be able to drift it fairly easily. There is a bridge that you will have to float under that has extreme currents in high water, you should analyze the situation before going under it. Beware! There are many small side channels that get blocked off frequently, if you follow the channels that have the most current you will be fine, but taking small side channels that you cannot see the end of is risky!

Twin Bridges

Twin bridges boat launch in Ririe Idaho

South twin bridge looking upstream. The boat launch is approximately 1/4 mile downstream on the right side.

This boat launch is only usable in high water and it is in a side channel that will be easily passed if you don’t already know where it is. I would not recommend using this launch unless you are familiar with the area and are well aware of the current flow rate of the river. At this time (Aug. 24th 2014) the river is too low to access this boat launch and it will likely be unusable until spring of 2015.

Lorenzo

This large launch is on the right side of the river just after you pass under highway 20 near Rexburg Idaho. High water can send you blazing past the ramp because there is almost no eddy. In low water it can require dragging your boat a little ways unless you have a long winch strap. It is a nice concrete launch with lots of parking and outhouses, but can be tricky to use unless the water level is “just right”. Once you float under the train bridge and the highway 20 bridge you will need to hustle to the right side of the river, or you could end up taking a longer float than you planned.

South Fork of the Snake River Map – Interactive Boat Launch Finder

You can toggle this map between satellite view and regular map view on the upper corner of the map. Click on the name of your preferred launch site below the map and it will become highlighted on the map for your convenience. These boat launches below are not listed in any particular order, however the list above is in order.

Interactive south fork boat launch map
If you would like more information or have questions about certain launches on the South Fork of the Snake for an upcoming trip, feel free to leave a comment below. I will do my best to answer all questions as quickly as possible. I spend more time during the summer months on the Snake river than I do sleeping (That’s not an exaggeration). I hope you have found this post helpful for planning your float trip.

For a  bit more info on the South Fork of the Snake access sites you can visit http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/visit_and_play/things_to_do/rivers/rivers/South_Fork_of_the_Snake_River/Access.html

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9 Comments

  1. Pingback: Fishing The South Fork of the Snake River in Idaho - Overview

  2. Deb

    September 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Hi – great information, as we’ve never been to the area. We are VERY beginner fly fishers and will not be floating. Is it possible to get some fishing in from the launch sites? Everything I’ve read seems to indicate “no”…but thought I’d ask. We’ll be heading from Jackson to Idaho Falls and the South Fork is definitely on our list for the day….if there is access.

    Thanks for any information you can provide. We’ll be in the area October 8th.

    Deb

    • Dub Paetz

      September 14, 2014 at 12:19 am

      Deb, by that point in October the river will be much lower. You should be able to find decent access by walking upstream from Heise bridge to fish some good riffles. You can also cross heise and go west on the small dirt road and gain good access to some flats that might have good dry fly action. Near the bridge in swan valley will also have good riffles to wade around on and might be worth trying. There are also a few good areas to access if you drive across the bridge up by Palisades dam on the south side of the river. You will not have a lot of trouble finding good areas with the lower October water levels. The riffles might be really good with Blue wing olive hatches as well, I hope this helps you. Dub

  3. Douglas

    October 18, 2014 at 3:14 am

    You share interesting things here. I have big plans to fish the Snake next summer, I’ll be back before then to ask you some questions if you don’t mind. Doug

    • Dub Paetz

      December 5, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      I’d be happy to help you out Doug. Let me know your questions. Thanks for visiting

  4. Brittany

    October 30, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Nice article! I fished with my husband by Lorenzo this labor day and did pretty good. My husband is nervous when I am rowing the boat, so I get to do most of the fishing while he rows lol.

    • Dub Paetz

      November 2, 2014 at 11:20 pm

      Haha That’s pretty funny. Keep him good and nervous and you will always get lots of fishing in, nice tactic

  5. Bret

    May 12, 2015 at 11:41 pm

    Dub,
    I’ve float fished the South Fork a couple of times with someone else rowing. I recently purchased a drift boat and got a rowing lesson on the Henry’s Fork last week. I rowed for six hours and learned a lot from an experienced oarsman. I would love to row my Dad down the lower canyon of the South Fork this June. Would a rookie oarsman such as myself do better getting more rowing time under my belt before I take on the South Fork at 13,000 cfs, or do you think such a float is doable for someone new to drift boat running?
    Thank You Kindly,
    Bret

    • Dub Paetz

      May 13, 2015 at 12:56 am

      Bret, I think you will probably do fine as long as you pay attention. By “lower canyon” I am guessing you want to float from cottonwood to byington or something? That is pretty mild and rookies float it all the time. When people get into trouble is when they are busy untying a knot or changing flies and aren’t watching for obstacles.
      Another thing to watch out for is pulling out of an eddy sideways and getting hit by an abrupt change of current (fast seam) as you hit the main low of water, that has flipped a lot of boats also. You will want to enter the fast seam slowly by backing into it so that you don’t get slammed by the fast water, the tapered back of the boat or “rocker” will allow the faster water to flow under the boat, as you gradually merge into the main current. I can think of a few logs that stick up in unsuspecting spots on that float that have sunk boats though. Perhaps try to float the upper section from the dam to bridge first and float the canyon later with your dad. If you live around here (which it sounds like you probably do) The upper has very few obstacles and most of it is a straight shot with no side channels or braids (all bank fishing) It really is a pretty section of river too, hit that a few times and build your confidence. Another key I have learned is to never, ever try to avoid hitting something by pushing the boat forward, always back row because: A). It will give you more time to avoid the obstacle and B). You will have more power pulling the ours rather than pushing.
      The most important thing anyone ever told me when I was learning to row in heavy water was to “always point the front of the boat towards what you DON’T want to hit”.
      Another very, very important tip is to be sure to never drop anchor in fast water. If you are not in a slow eddy or backwater don’t drop it! I have witnessed 2 boats sink from people dropping anchor in too fast of water. What happens is the anchor doesn’t catch right away, then suddenly it does catch really hard on a big rock or log and it literally pulls the back of the boat underwater in an instant. One second you are fishing, the next second you are swimming.

      Sorry if I turned this into a rowing lesson, but you might not have learned these things on the milder Henry’s fork. Since I have no way of knowing what you learned in your six hour lesson, I
      thought I would include them.
      I can tell you for sure that the upper south fork is fishing really good right now. I was on it yesterday and every spot that I thought should have held fish, did have fish.

      I guess the bottom line is this, you will be able to float this section of river easily if you pay attention. I hope to see you out there! Let me know if you come up with any more questions, dub

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