There is something truly magical about Swan Valley and the Palisade Reservoir. I can honestly say the first time I realized I wanted to stay in Idaho, perhaps for the rest of my life, was when I first visited this valley. Teton valley, to the northeast, has quite the charm, don't get me wrong, but the lesser known Swan Valley has so many hidden treasures. Time seems nonexistent when visiting this spot. The stillness, the way the light rests on the hills and peaks, the pace of life, all of it is indescribable in beauty and peace. The #1 road trip route I like to take begins or ends with a drive through this narrow valley. With many pull offs as well as water access at many points along the miles of shoreline, there have been several past road trips that have turned into half day trips for me here. A variety of trails and roads are accessed from this valley highway including another all time family favorite --- the Upper and Lower Palisades Lakes. Of which, I will write a whole separate post on!
Formed from damming the Snake River, which flows from the peaks of the Wyoming Tetons, the Palisade Reservoir stretches for many miles and features a serene lake environment and associated wildlife. On a clear, wind-less day, the water is as glass -- reflecting the nearby peaks across its surface. Come winter, the reservoir ices over; perfect for ice fishing, snowshoeing, and other activities. During the warmer months, boating, camping, and fishing are popular activities. Weekends can get busy with the active and large boating population taking full advantage of the large reservoir for water skiing and tubing.
The southern shore is far more remote than the northern shore which is paralleled by the highway. Take a canoe or kayak to the far shore and explore various narrow canyons and waterways where small streams and creeks run into the lake. While on the shore and during the later summer, look for unique drift wood that collects on the receding shoreline. I have found incredible pieces from this location! Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife in the hills and skies. Eagles, osprey, owls, and more can be seen soaring high above.
Also, while in Swan Valley, I can't forget to mention the Rainey Creek Country Store, home of the world famous square ice cream! A personal tradition of mine has been to stop at this store while in the area or on my way east through the dreamy highway 31 pass to Victor, ID. This pass, during the fall, is blanketed in fiery yellow and orange aspens that shine in the evening sun.
Take a look at a few pictures from the area, enjoy!!