Monday, September 19, 2011

South Fork Without a Fly Rod

Mention the South Fork of the Snake River to many outdoor enthusiasts, and the first thought is world-class fly fishing. And indeed, the South Fork offers legendary fishing for Yellowstone cutthroat trout, which often rise eagerly to dry flies.

Most of the South Fork's visitors--who come from all over the world--come to fish.

But the South Fork is a spectacular place even without a fly rod. And even for the most avid anglers, a trip here is not only about fish. It's about stunning scenery and abundant wildlife, too. Conservancy philanthropy staffers Justin Petty and Clark Shafer, avid fly anglers both, recently traveled the canyon without fly rods. Clark snapped these photos during the trip. (See below for directions to the hiking trail they used).

It's hard to believe this beautiful place was at one time slated for housing developments and even a golf course. The efforts of conservationists led to nearly the entire main canyon being protected from development. The Nature Conservancy, the Teton Regional Land Trust, Conservation Fund and Bureau of Land Management worked together to protect this special place through conservation easements.

The view you see today is the view future generations will enjoy.

With fly rod or without, visit the South Fork. It's a stunning testament to what your support of conservation accomplishes.

Directions: A great place to enjoy these views is on the trail accessed Dry Canyon Camp #2. After Pine Creek camp sites, look for the large sandstone cliffs on river left. Get to the river right and look for an island.

At the bottom of the island there is a slough that feeds the main river. Pull into the slough and row up river until you see a sign for Dry Canyon #3 camp site (DC2).

Park the boat here and walk up a short but steep trail to the designated camp site. You will see a trail that leads away from the river up Dry Canyon. This turns into a two-track and after 1/2 mile there is a junction.

At the junction, go left and up the hill. Walk for approximately one mile until you get to a view of the entire river corridor. This hike takes about one hour.

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