Palisades Creek

One of my favorite hikes in southeast Idaho is Palisades Creek. We try to do it at least once a year. The hike is about an hour’s drive from Idaho Falls on Highway 26 toward Jackson, Wyoming.

It’s Wednesday, mid-morning, May 28 – and David and I are on our way.


We figure the whole trip should take about 7 hours.

Dropping into Swan Valley now:


The turnoff to the Palisades Creek hike is about 10 miles beyond Swan Valley.

A couple miles beyond Swan Valley we sail right past an eagle’s nest – but then realize there was some activity in it. “Hey, turn around!”


Eagles are circling overhead, hunting for prey.


There’s an eaglet in the nest!


The turnoff to the hike is on Highway 26 directly across from the Palisades Lodge. You can’t miss it! We’ve just turned off and will soon be parked at the trailhead:



We’re on the trail now. David explains to me, “It’s four miles to the lower lake, and it should take us about 2 1/2 hours to get there, if we keep a steady pace.” He jets off in the lead.


Right off the bat, we pass this sign:


“Bear attack?” I don’t ever remember worrying about bears on this trail. We’ve seen moose before, and I know to watch on the cliffs for mountain goats, but … bears? Okay, so carry bear spray, avoid hiking alone, don’t run … yeah, okay.

My goodness! Wildflowers have sprung everywhere along the trail. Of course, I can’t photograph every species, but I try:








Hey, wait a minute! Those aren’t flowers! Wha..?


EWWWWW! (as Jimmy Fallon would say). Tent worms!

Yes, turns out, there’s an abundance of tent worms. Oh how special. They’re hatching!

For your enjoyment, and to share this special event with you, I took these next two action videos. They do have musical soundtracks, well, virtual soundtracks – you’ll have to play them in your head yourself – (since I lack the technological expertise to actually upload the soundtracks onto the videos).

The musical sound track to this first video is “Gimme Some Lovin'” the 1966 smash hit compliments of the Spencer Davis Group. (What? You weren’t born yet in 1966? Oh. Huh? Your parents weren’t born yet either?)

Here we go – Get it going in your head:

“Gimme gimme some lovin’ (gimme some lovin) Gimme, gimme some lovin’ (gimme some lovin), Ev-er-y day – ba ba ba ba boom”

Turn up the sound! (in your head):

Gimme gimme some lovin’….

Are you totally groovin’ with the tent worms, or what?

Okay, retune your heads! This next video rocks to the 1962 debut hit, “Locomotion.”

Get it goin’!-

“Everybody’s doin’ a brand new dance now, come on baby do the locomotion…”

“So come on, come on, and do the locomotion with me – Ooooooo-oo- ooo- ooo- ooo – ooo”

“Enough with the friggin’ tent worms, already.” you say?


Guess I sorta got off track with that “keeping a steady pace” thing we were supposed to be doing – taking all these photos and videos. Where’s David? I pick up my pace to catch up but he is no where in sight:


I would have greeted numerous other hikers on the trail with gusto and gladness. But, so far, there are none – aside from the couple we met coming out as we started up the trail. I keep hearing something behind me, a rustling in the bushes, or something. I turn around to look – nope – no one behind me. Could the sounds I’m hearing be from the sloshing water bottle in my back pack? Or could there be a bear or something off in the brush? Something stalking me, ready to pounce? Geez, where’s David? Uh, let’s see now, what am I supposed to do if I perchance encounter a bear? Don’t be alone, for starters.(Great.) Carry bear spray (the last thing on my shopping list, like, it wasn’t even on my shopping list…) Don’t run. Don’t climb a tree (that one came to me of my own brilliance), don’t make eye contact (are you kidding?), make noise. “ROAR!” But if you don’t scare the bear and he charges after you, then … stop, drop, and roll! No, that’s not it … PLAY DEAD, if you aren’t already. AAAAWWLLLGG! I could get eaten by a bear right here on the spot and David wouldn’t even know, since, how far ahead is he?

I raced forward on the trail, not altogether convinced the only thing chasing me was my water bottle. Finally, with great relief, I did catch up with David.


Peering at mountain goats through his binoculars. There was a pair of them clomping (one would guess) around on the cliffs above. We both looked at them through the binoculars. Quickfooted, they soon disappeared from sight. I took a video of the cliffs from where we were standing:

That’s the Palisades creek raging by. It empties into the south fork of the Snake River. We follow it almost the whole distance to the lower lake.

We’ve been gaining in elevation.


David keeps gaining distance on me, period,


although I argue that with his long legs – I have to take four steps to his three.

We are now traversing pools of water along the path


and Palisades creek is over-running its banks.


Our path is also a creek running parallel.


We cross the roiling creek several times over solid, well-built, bridges. I am standing on a bridge now to take this photo:


Then this video:

We’re guessing that the creek hasn’t peaked yet. There is still quite a bit of snow on the peaks.

We are near Lower Palisades lake now. Wow. A string of fresh horse manure!


Now that’s a hopeful sight! Maybe some folks are camping on the lake – rode up the trail on horses packing in all their camping equipment – that sure is the way to go!

Nope. We’ve arrived at lower Palisades lake now, greeted by a very large empty campsite. We have it all to ourselves, and …

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4 Responses to “Palisades Creek”

  1. Rene Miller Says:

    Enjoyed the virtual hike!

  2. kristen Says:

    When I worked in Yellowstone and Glacier parks we would always be warned about the bears. Recommendations included the use of bear bells and also pepper spray. Additionally, we were encouraged to familiarize ourselves with “bear sign”, such as scat. Usually the inquiry “how can you tell if it’s bear poop?” , is followed by the explanation “you can tell by the scent of pepper spray, and the presence of little bells”.

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