Mud Lake—Spotlight City
Abundant Water in the Desert
By Trish Petersen
My husband Justin is a lifelong Mud Laker and when we were married in 1994, I swore I would never live in such a forsaken desert of sagebrush and jackrabbits.
I had grown up in the beautiful Teton Valley. I had relatives who lived in the Mud Lake area, which is how I had gathered all I knew about the place: sagebrush and jackrabbits.
Over the years, my husband’s ninety-two-year-old grandmother, Mona, told me many times, “When I moved here from Burton (near Rexburg) in 1960, I thought it was the end of the earth.”
When we moved to Mud Lake twenty-seven years ago I agreed with her, before I had any idea of the fascinating and marvelous things I would encounter here.
The very name Mud Lake makes one curious about the place. Most people have never heard of it, let alone know where it is. I still tell people it’s in the middle of nowhere, but that isn’t exactly true.
The community lies on Highway 33 about forty-five minutes northwest of Idaho Falls, between Rexburg and Howe.
Anyone who drives that route will pass through it, although few will stop. Mud Lake is not only the name of an incorporated city with a population of about 320 but also of a vast area around it.
If you’ve heard the name, most likely it’s from controversial rabbit drives that occurred here in the early 1980s. Millions of jackrabbits ruined and depleted the crops of local farmers.
Although that may be familiar to you, did you also know there’s a lake with the same name as the city?
This lake has been central to my personal story of the place. All these years I’ve been fortunate to live a mile from Mud Lake, which itself is about five miles northeast of town, and I’ve been blessed to witness the splendor, beauty, and songs of the peregrine falcons, sandhill cranes, swans, geese, ducks, and other migratory birds on the lake.
From my front porch, I watch the deer and moose, bald eagles, owls, and hawks that frequent the big willow trees.