Buffalo River Island Park Idaho

Hunting in Idaho

It is hunting season in Idaho.  Bow season is underway and rifle season starts tomorrow. We have joined in, not wanting to “buck” local traditions.  Of course, bucks have seemed to disappear, as they always do at this time of year.  Since we don’t have much storage in the RV, let alone much freezer space we had to come up with something else to hunt.  We are already well into the woods, deep enough to be completely without cell phone service.  Nothing penetrates into this canyon.  It is quiet with the exception of the sound of rushing water off to the west. 

Bear Spray

Given our remote location, we thought, if it were not too much to ask, we could participate in the hunt.  So packing our bear spray, after all this is a remote location and two days ago a sow griz was spotted less than twenty miles from here, along with her FOUR cubs, two cubs from last year and two cubs from this year.  It must take a lot of meat to feed the five of them.  Come to think of it, this is open range and cattle are dumb.  Griz can easily travel much further than twenty miles in a day.  From our location, there is a trail that leads to Yellowstone Lake, but it would take us two days walking just to get to the west edge of the park.  


The sound of rushing water intrigued us, not to mention the sign that said “FALLS” which is a dead give away to the source of the sound, and now we were tracking.  We did see some “almost steaming” bear tracks not a hundred yards from our camp. 

Upper Mesa Falls Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Idaho Falls Idaho
Upper Mesa Falls Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Idaho Falls Idaho

Sometimes, if you perform a good stalk, you might be able to sneak up on one that you could shoot.  And if the light is right when you stalk, kind of like having the wind in your face when stalking bears; you can start shooting even before you see the whites of their eyes, so to speak.  (Have I mentioned that bears, don’t have whites in their eyes?… it just dawned on me)  Anyway, the right place, in the right light, with the sun to your back sometimes gives quite a show, and unlike bear hunting, there isn’t much gore to work through after a successful hunt. 

Anyway, I started shooting well before seeing the falls, and couldn’t stop.  A hundred or so shots later I think I have something to share. Maybe I wasn’t hunting waterfalls, just rainbows. Henry’s Fork is known for big rainbows and browns. (joke) Now if I just had some cell phone service to share it with.  Eastern Idaho, Upper Mesa Falls on the Henry Fork in the morning, with the sun to our back, and bear spray at the ready.

Upper Mesa Falls Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Idaho Falls Idaho
Upper Mesa Falls Henrys Fork of the Snake River near Idaho Falls Idaho

Grand View

We are camping at Grand View Campground some 400 feet above Henry’s Fork a little north of Ashton. Two nights ago a bear did wander through the campground knocking over old 4×4 posts hoping to find grubs in the rotten wood under the posts. We are about 1 mile from the upper falls in the picture and just below the lower falls. We can’t see or hear the river from our campsite, just thick undergrowth in the pines.

Island Park

Our previous campsite was at Buttermilk Campground, in Island Park Idaho right next to Island Park Reservoir.  We had to leave Monday morning because the campground will be locked up for the winter.  Instead of leaving during the rush to get out we departed on Sunday afternoon instead. When we left, there were three other rigs still there, out of about 120 campsites; half of the campground was already closed cramming the four of us in only 60 open spots.  I hope there isn’t much of a backup at the exit. 

The forest is different at Grand View. Island Park was mature lodgepole pines; completely shadow the forest floor with no undergrowth and almost no life. Unlike Yellowstone, the lodge poles at Island Park had been thinned years before.  Yellowstone is covered in lodgepole pines that all grew after the 1988 fire.  Grand View has mostly middle-age Ponderosa pines, firs, and spruce. The undergrowth is thick enough to keep you on the trails; thick enough to keep the bears on the trails.


The National Park Service downplays the fire on their map of the park by marking the burned areas of the 1988 fire in a tan color and other smaller fires in red, green and blue. If you look closely, the legend shows, the tan color nearly covers the entire park, border to border. The third-year after the fire must have been spectacular with knee-high forests of lodge poles and views of the mountains surrounding the caldera.  Today the view is blocked in most places for the trees which are so thick you can’t walk through them.  The park service won’t do it, but the growth is being stunted because the forest desperately needs thinning.

I wanted to thank John, who said that some of the tourists he talked to — saw “a wolf, riding a grizzly while chasing a moose”.  We didn’t see a deer, moose, wolf or any bears. Still, the park was stunning and created wonderful memories. Next time we need to figure out a way to camp in the park.

Here is a link to the google map for the area.

Link to our 2019 Route

Link to our route Minot North Dakota to Boise

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6 thoughts on “Hunting in Idaho”

  1. All sounds cool. I’m impressed by the very busy mama bear with 4 cubs still with her. I would think last year’s pair would be doing a little hunting of their own by now.

    Beautiful picture.!

    Have fun, Wanda

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