Big Elk Creek - Backpack, Camp, Canoe, Hike, Horseback, and Kayak near Irwin, Idaho
Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Targhee Trail, Victor, ID 83455,Irwin,Idaho
43.32230149870831, -111.11602306365967
11.0 miles SE of Irwin, Idaho
Address: Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Targhee Trail, Victor, ID 83455
GPS: 43°19'20.3"N 111°6'57.7"W
Maps | Directions
State: Idaho
Trails/Routes: 13.8 mi

Restrooms Picnic Tables Lakes Rivers Streams Trails Wildflowers Fall Colors

Backpack, Camp, Canoe, Hike, Horseback, and Kayak

Big Elk Creak Campground is a very versitile campground with plenty of activities to keep busy. Campgrounds are available, with three group sites that include picnic tables and campfire rings. There is also a site with a covered picnic area available to reserve. Sites are reserved on a first come first serve basis.

Activities include fishing, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and more. On the drive into the camp you pass a small lake that is perfect for a more secluded lake experience if you don't want to go out onto Lake Palisade. About five minutes before reaching the campgrounds you will see the boat launch for the small dammed lake outside of the main Palisade Resevoir. From the campgrounds, you can float or kayak down the river to reach the lake. There is plenty of fishing in this small lake, however this lake DOES NOT provide access to the main Palisade Reservoir. 

Towards the back end of the campground is the trailhead for the Big Elk Creek Trail. Following this trail will take you up into the mountains of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, and over into Wyoming. It is perfect for backpacking as well as horseback riding along the trail. In the fall the Aspen trees are changing colors and the Douglas-Fir add some nice contrast in the mountains. The trail is a designated Leave No Trace zone, so please pack out all garabage and anything else you brought with you. The fall is a beautiful time to go, just remember to bring layers because the nights and early mornings get chilly. 

Plenty of wildlife to see from mountain goats to squirrels, so just exercise caution while out there. There are bears in the area, so be sure to grab some bear spray and remember to lock up food in bear safes or practice different hanging methods so your food doesn't go missing. 

Fees for use (as of 4/28/17)

$12/Night single sites

$24/Night double sites

Group sites are $50/night up to 35 people, $1/person thereafter

$6/night extra vehicle, $6/Day for Day Use Fee

2.7K Edited by cteicheira

Be courteous, informed, and prepared. Read trailhead guidelines, stay on the trail, and don't feed the wildlife.

Read More
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors


From Irwin, Idaho

  1. Head southeast toward Old Irwin Rd (161 ft)
  2. Turn left onto Old Irwin Rd (0.1 mi)
  3. Turn right onto US-26 E (10.5 mi)
  4. Turn left onto Big Elk Creek Rd (1.6 mi)
  5. Slight right onto Forest Rd 270
    Destination will be on the right
    (299 ft)

From Idaho Falls, Idaho, travel approximately 56 miles on Highway 26 to Palisades Dam. Once at the dam, continue 6 miles east on Highway 26, then turn left onto Forest Road 262 (Big Elk Creek Road) and travel 2 miles to the campground.



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Guest Review/Comments

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4/24/17 10:17 am 9/25/14
I went there on a backpacking trip through BYU-Idaho. Because it was the middle of fall, all the leaves were changing and the weather was perfect. We didn't have any trouble with wildlife, though saw some people watching mountain goats. Further up the trail there is a nice river that is great for swimming when the weather gets hot. Overall a really fun trip and I would love to go back.
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Small creek runs through the area added by cteicheira Small creek runs through the area added by cteicheira
Beautiful Trees added by cteicheira Beautiful Trees added by cteicheira Autumn colors added by cteicheira Autumn colors  added by cteicheira Golden Leaves added by cteicheira Golden Leaves added by cteicheira Kokanee Sept. added by mkrrobertson Kokanee Sept.  added by mkrrobertson