Too Cold for Me

At a Big Game Refuge in the White Season

Story and Photos by Kris Millgate

The South Fork of the Snake River has a huge hatch of fisherman in the summer, but when winter grabs an icy hold on the place, the river is left to the wild.

The only way to see what goes on in the canyon in the season of white is to snowshoe in. High-country snow and below-zero temperatures are worth the exertion to see this winter refuge.

The canyon stretch of the South Fork is pretty isolated at any time of year. The bottom end of the canyon can be reached by only one road, and even it is closed in the winter, when the canyon is prime range for big game.

“We want to reduce the amount of stress from them being chased or harrassed and just leave them be as far as we can,” regional wildlife manager Daryl Meints of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game tells me when I ask about winter access in preparation for this trip. “That way, they don’t have to unnecessarily burn fat reserves to help them get through the winter.”

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