Through steep canyon walls, the mighty Snake River winds its way down the canyon to do its part in filling one of the most pristine mountain reservoirs in the region. Joined by the Greys River at the mouth of the canyon and partnering with the Salt River coming from the south, Palisades Reservoir boasts over 70 miles of shoreline and 1.2 million-acre feet of water.
Palisades Dam was built in 1957 to provide irrigation water, flood control and in doing so, created a wide variety of outstanding recreational opportunities. Locals in Star Valley and Swan Valley still remember the acres of farmland that were swallowed up as the reservoir started to fill.
Lloyd Baker, 107-year old Star Valley native, recalls as a boy, enjoying the hot springs which now are underwater. Some say, however, that when the water levels are low enough, swimmers can still enjoy the steamy, warm water coming from the hot springs below. That is if you know where to look!
Nestled between the Snake River Mountain range and the Caribou Mountain range, Palisades features nine forest service campgrounds, several boat launches and a plethora of excellent primitive camping spots, where wildlife thrives in abundance.
The summer months at Palisades offer a wide variety of recreational water sports. Boating, wakeboarding, skiing, kiteboarding and more. The lake is quiet and peaceful during the week, but summer weekends and holidays bring water sports enthusiasts out in droves. From lazy floaters to crazy surfers, Palisades welcomes all. Though the mountain water may be a little chilly, many dare to jump right in and enjoy.
Palisades offers three seasons of water fun including paddle boarding, kayaking, and site seeing. And what sites there are to see!
On the south side of the lake, you’ll find the Alpine Wetlands, where there are numerous constructed ponds and canals that provide productive breeding and staging areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, and Neotropical migrants. The Great Blue Heron, Trumpeter Swans, Ducks, Bald Eagles, and Osprey, just to name a few of those who seasonally call this area home.
According to the locals, fishing on Palisades is best along the northwest side for both shore and boat anglers. The most popular is species is cutthroat trout, which are both wild and stocked. Also popular is brown trout, averaging nearly 17” in length. Though not as abundant as cutthroat and brown trout, kokanee, and Mackinaw can also be found, but in deeper waters.
Palisades is open for fishing year-round. However, in the spring and fall seasons, the lake levels are more stable and the fish more active, making for the very best fishing. All season anglers may also want to know that ice fishing is both popular and productive.
The changing seasons are but another great feature that makes Palisades such an attractive destination. The splendor of the fall leaves, surrounding the beautiful blue water is a sight to behold. The leaves begin to turn in early September and sometimes last through October. Enjoyed by locals and travelers alike, the views as you travel around the lake on US Highway 26 are nothing short of spectacular!
And when the day is done, there is nothing quite like a peaceful paddle on the Palisades, at dusk.
Three Wyoming rivers; the Salt, the Snake and the Greys converge to create this unique mountain treasure, Palisades. From fishing to floating, camping to boating, the best of life’s most memorable adventures can be found here.