Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Quick Facts

Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area

Idaho

(208) 384-3300

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA), in southwest Idaho, was established in 1993 to protect a unique environment that supports one of the world's densest concentrations of nesting birds of prey. Falcons, eagles, hawks, and owls occur here in unique profusion and variety. It is part of BLM's National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS).

The area was set aside in response to information gained from one of the most intensive raptor research efforts ever undertaken. Decades of scientific studies defined the area critical to the future of unique bird populations which have captured national and international attention.

This unique area encompasses 485,000 acres and hosts about 800 pairs of falcons, eagles, hawks and owls that come here each spring to mate and raise their young. The best time to view raptors is from mid-March through June during morning and early evening hours. Numerous other recreation opportunities are available such as camping, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, hunting, OHV riding, and scenic/wildlife viewing. A developed campground is located at Cove Recreation Site and primitive camping is available throughout the area.

The NCA is nature in the rough. The birds are not on display. For the most part they are wary of humans and keep their distance. Public facilities in the area are few, but the raptors and their environment offer rich rewards to those who meet the area on its own terms and who have the patience to fit into the natural rhythm of life here.

Map of Snake River Birds of Prey NCA

Latitude, Longitude: 43.098977, -116.224365

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Activities

  • Boating

    Boating provides a great way to fish, view raptors or explore the Snake River Canyon. However, variable winds, fluctuating water levels, and shifting sand and gravel bars often create hazardous boating conditions. Motorized craft can navigate with caution above Swan Falls Dam and below Celebration Park, but the river is rocky and treacherous for motorboats between Swan Falls Dam and Celebration Park.

    Floating the Snake River is a great way to see the canyon and its inhabitants. There are two stretches of the river that people float. A nice day-float runs from Swan Falls Dam to Celebration Park. The other is from Grand View/Black Butte to Swan Falls Dam. You can combine these two sections if you are willing to portage around Swan Falls Dam.

    The river and its unique surroundings provide visitors a rare opportunity to observe golden eagles, prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, and northern harriers in their natural environment. More than 800 pairs of raptors, including 15 different species nest in the area. Canoeing or rafting on the Snake River is an ideal way to view raptors and explore the canyon.

  • Bird Watching

    About 800 pairs of falcons, eagles, hawks and owls that come here each spring to mate and raise their young. The best time to view raptors is from mid-March through June during morning and early evening hours. Note: Birds in the NCA are not on display; it's more a nature in the rough. For the most part raptors are wary of humans and keep their distance.

  • Bicycling

    The area offers many trails that are great for mountain biking.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Swan Falls Loop, an easy 56-mile paved loop tour, winds from the town of Kuna across the desert and down into the Snake River Canyon. You can see an assortment of raptors, historic structures and American Indian rock art along the drive. Consider stopping at Initial Point for a short hike to the top of a lava butte. Other places for outstanding scenic views are Three-Pole Pullout, the top of Swan Falls Grade and Swan Falls Dam--the first hydroelectric dam on the Snake River. Loop Tour maps are available online at blm.gov/id.

  • Fishing

    The C.J. Strike Reservoir impounds 7,500 acres of the Snake and Bruneau Rivers. The reservoir offers great boating as well as fishing. Fishermen can find yellow perch, rainbow trout, catfish and other fish in the reservoir. The main area near the dam offers easy access for both bank and boat angling. Go to the Snake River for some of the best bass fishing in the state. Large- and small-mouth bass are plentiful here, as well as trout and white sturgeon.

  • Hiking

    Hiking and walking opportunities are available throughout the NCA but most occurs within and along the Snake River canyon. Three areas are particular favorites: Dedication Point; Halverson Bar and Celebration Park. See the hiking map for more information.

  • Historic Sites

    A unique combination of climate, geology, soils, and vegetation has created a complete and stable ecosystem where predators and prey occur in extraordinary numbers. The NCA constitutes a valuable national biological and educational resource. The BLM is mandated to manage this resource for the protection of raptor populations and habitats while providing for interpretive and educational opportunities.

  • Horseback Riding

    The area offers many trails that are great for horseback riding.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is allowed in designated areas. Check with the field office for details.

Directions

Driving

About 20 miles south of Boise, Idaho. From Interstate 84 take Exit 44 (Idaho Highway 69) south eight miles. Turn south on Swan Falls Road and head south three miles to the conservation area boundary.

Flying

Salt Lake City International Airport is the closest major airport. There is also a commercial airport in Boise about one hour from the NCA.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(208) 384-3300

Links