Idaho’s Southeast Region Wildlife Management Areas
Idaho’s wildlife management areas place a central focus on the conservation of protected areas of which act as an ideal location for use by wildlife as a safe harbor, nesting grounds, stopover while migrating, as well as a habitat that supports and promotes a positive environment for wildlife. These areas consist of a mix of wetlands, woodland, cropland, forest lands, and grasslands. Included within the combination of various ecosystems also features sagebrush steppe, which is a diverse habitat encompassing over 350 species.
If getting outdoors to enjoy nature is something that you like, checking out one of the many wildlife management areas in Southern Idaho may be just the thing for you. Each site is going to present similar opportunities for wildlife, though the species may vary depending on the habitat you’re visiting.
Southeast Idaho is home to five incredibly scenic wildlife management areas. These areas include Blackfoot River WMA, which is located north of the city of Soda Springs. Then there is Georgetown Summit WMA, which is located between the city of Soda Springs and Montpelier near the city of Georgetown. Following is Montpelier WMA and Portneuf WMA.
Bear Lake County, Idaho
Habitat: Forest, Riparian, & Upland
Purpose: Enhance Habitat for Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout & Waterfowl.
Activities: Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, Wildlife Viewing, Horseback Riding, Primitive Camping (no open fires permitted).
Features: There are float boating opportunities with a primitive launch site that is located at Diamond Creek Road Bridge crossing. Portable toilets may be found at the four parking areas along county roads that cross the wildlife management area strictly during the hunting and fishing seasons. Seasons open season timeframes and a map of the WMA are made available online by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Motorized Vehicle Use is limited to established roads as well as the four designated parking lots.
The Blackfoot River Wildlife Management Area is home to 2,400 +/- acres in the Rasmussen Valley. What is now known as the WMA land was once homesteaded by the Rasmussen Family way back in the late 1800s. Many years later, after being sold and made into a ranch, the ownership of the land was eventually sold to the department in 1994. The original four structures developed by the Rasmussen family comprised of a cabin, school, cheese house, and blacksmith house and remain to this day.
The Blackfoot River winds and wraps its way across the predominately open flatlands of valley, which bump up to the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The forest is delicately spotted with a mix of mature Conifers, Lodgepole Pines, Douglas Fir, and Aspen trees, which complement the area well. Forest land in the area is put to use for timber production as well as phosphate mining as the soil is rich with this mineral. Sheep grazing and cattle grazing are also active in the area.
Idaho Falls 75 - 135 +/- miles (depending on the route taken)
Rexburg 96 - 112 +/- miles (depending on the route taken)
Bear Lake County, Idaho
Habitat: Aspens, Grasslands, Sagebrush Steppe, Tall Shrub
Purpose: Year-Round Habitat & Winter Range for Deer & Elk
Activities: Hunting, Fishing, Trapping, Wildlife Viewing, Horseback Riding, and Primitive Camping (no open fires permitted).
Features: The Georgetown Summit Wildlife Management Area boasts of some of the most beautiful wildflowers and is home to 4,353 acres on the summit of North Hill with portions of the western slope overlooking the Nounan Valley as well as the Bear Lake Valley. Bear River meanders across the valley floors making its way through the area and unites with Bear Lake. The slopes are dotted with brush and acts as provisions for approximately 200 wintering elk and 50 mule deer in addition to providing cover and a safeguard from exposure to weather conditions. Area forage also provides additional area wildlife essential nourishments. Other wildlife species that may be observed while visiting the WMA include moose and sharp-tailed grouse. As the WMA is nestled amid two parcels separated by Hwy 30, the north parcel connects with Caribou-Targhee National Forest on the north and east-facing portions of the parcel.
Traveling to this area, one may find several access points from Highway 30. Wildlife is known to cross the highway as cautioned by signage. It’s always best to be on point anytime traveling of the possibility of creatures and critters crossing or stopped on the roads or highways. The Georgetown Summit Wildlife Management Area provides an optimal opportunity for wildlife sightings and being surrounded by nature. Big game hunting and limited upland game hunting is permitted within the rules and regulations. There is also waterfowl hunting permitted. Keeping in mind that hunting is an activity permitted at this site is something to keep in mind during the designated hunting season(s) for the utmost safety for all. In the rare case that there is severe wintering weather, the WMA may be closed to visitors to minimize the impact on wildlife wintering for the season.
Pocatello 70 +/- miles
Idaho Falls 121 +/- miles
Rexburg 148 +/- miles
Bear Lake County, Idaho
Habitat: Sagebrush Steppe
Purpose: Winter Range for Elk & Mule Deer
Activities: Hunting, Trapping, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Primitive Camping (no open fires permitted).
Features: The 2,137 +/- acres found at Montpelier Wildlife Management Area have the potential to make for an excellent day out, especially if birding or exploring is something you’d enjoy. Sections of the rolling hills of the WMA are smothered in dense brush around Montpelier Creek, located at the low point between summits. Surrounding popular destinations include Montpelier Canyon Campground, Home Canyon Campground, as well as Montpelier Reservoir.
Access to the WMA is limited to one parking lot provided alongside US Hwy 89, with the addition of a horse stile as horse travel is permitted within the WMA boundaries. No motorized use is allowed beyond the parking lot area.
Idaho Falls 139 +/- miles
Rexburg 166 +/- miles
Bannock County, Idaho
Habitat: Aspen Forest, Riparian Woodland, Sagebrush Steppe, as well as Shrubland.
Purpose: Winter Range for Deer, Sharp-Tailed Grouse Habitat.
Activities: Hunting, Trapping, Hiking, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Primitive Camping (no open fires permitted).
Features: The remarkably scenic 3,950 +/- acres of the Portneuf Wildlife Management Area is one not to be missed around the spring season as the area comes to life with vibrant colors. A sea of tall green grasses the engulf the rolling slopes and sway beautifully as the wind blows through Robbers Roost Canyon. The seasonal waters of Robbers Roost Creek also make way down the sides of Haystack Mountain from snow melt-off contributing to dense mature tree life and tranquil environment. Surrounding destinations include Indian Rocks State Park and further out Goodenough Creek Campground, and Pebble Creek Ski Area.
The Portneuf Wildlife Management Area is accessible from S. Old Hwy 91. The interior roads are closed from Nov 15 to June 1 to protect wintering wildlife.
Pocatello 20 +/- miles
Idaho Falls 69 +/- miles
Rexburg 96 +/- miles
Bingham County, Idaho
Habitat: Agriculture, Russian Olive Woodlands, Open Water, Wetlands, Wet Meadows.
Purpose: Waterfowl and Ring-Necked Pheasant Breeding Habitat
Activities: Fishing (American Falls Reservoir), Hiking, Hunting, Trapping, Wildlife Viewing
Features: Established in 1968, the Sterling Wildlife Management Area boasts 4,106 +/- miles of some of the most utilized land in the Southeast Region. Drawing in many visitors for its population of ring-necked pheasant and waterfowl hunting. Also, the Sterling WMA permits upland game hunting. Be sure to gather required permits and check out rules and regulations prior to heading out for a hunt. Additional hunting is allowed, such as archery-only mule deer and white-tailed deer. While hunting may be popular, there is also the opportunity for birding. Birds that one might find while exploring this location include raptors, shorebirds, songbirds, upland birds, waterbirds, and waterfowl.
Surrounding destinations include the Fort Hall Historical Monument, Sportsman Park, American Falls Reservoir, and further out Lake Channel Sand Dunes - BLM Recreation Area.
Pocatello 45 +/- miles
Idaho Falls 62 +/- miles
Rexburg 112 +/- miles
For more information on how best to support responsible practices while enjoying the proper use of Department Lands, be sure to check out the Idaho Fish and Game - Public Use of Department Lands and Access Areas Pamphlet available online, call, or visit for more information. If visiting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game Headquarters, this location may be found at 600 S. Walnut Avenue in Boise, Idaho, or the telephone number is 208-334-3700.