Big Elk Campground

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Palisades - Big Elk Creek Campground

Big Elk Campground is situated along Big Elk Creek on a quiet arm of the beautiful Palisades Reservoir, just 55 miles east of Idaho Falls, Idaho. Visitors enjoy boating, fishing and exploring the scenic Big Elk Creek Trail.

Natural Features: The campgrounds lies on a hillside at an elevation of 5,700 feet, above Big Elk Creek among aspens and Douglas fir trees, which provide partial shade. Sagebrush and summer wildflowers dot the landscape.

Recreation: Big Elk Creek has great fishing for cutthroat trout and the occasional Kokanee salmon. Canoeing and swimming are popular activities on the reservoir. A small boat ramp is located on-site. When the reservoir level is low, boats cannot be launched on Big Elk Creek. 

Big Elk Creek Trail, for hiking, biking and horseback riding, begins at the campground and meanders up a beautiful canyon brimming with wildflowers, towering trees and scenic views. 

Palisades Reservoir is across the highway, offering excellent boating, water skiing, swimming and canoeing. Lake and shore fishing are very popular there as well, with wild and stocked cutthroat trout as the predominate species. Kokanee salmon, brown and Mackinaw trout can also be found. A boat ramp is located at Calamity Campground less than 10 miles away.

Facilities: This campground offers three group sites with picnic tables, campfire rings and grills. Site A-1 also has a picnic shelter and serving tables, and can accommodate up to 160 people. Sites B-1 and B-2 can accommodate up to 50 people each. Individual sites are available on a first come, first served basis only. 

Vault toilets, drinking water and trash collection are provided, but there is no electricity. Firewood is available for purchase from the host. Roads and parking spurs are gravel.

Nearby Attractions: The Palisades Creek Trail begins nearby, leading hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders to beautiful Upper Palisades Lake and expansive views of Swan Valley. 

The Snake River and Swan Valley offer more great fishing and boating opportunities, as well as rafting, canoeing and numerous trails for hiking, biking, horseback and ATV riding. Fall Creek Falls is 20 miles away, and the Fall Creek area has hundreds of miles of such trails.

At a Glance

Reservations: Group sites can be reserved by calling Toll Free 1-877-444-6777 (International 518-885-3639 or TDD 877-833-6777) or Other campsites are first-come/first-served.
Area Amenities: Boat ramp,Tent camping,Camping trailer,Picnic tables,Toilets,Drinking water,Parking
Fees $12/Night single sites, $24/Night double sites Group sites are $50/night up to 35 people, $1/person thereafter. $6/night extra vehicle, $6/Day for Day Use Fee
Open Season: May
Usage: Light-Medium
Water: Potable Water
Restroom: Vault Toilet
Passes: Interagency Senior Pass and Interagency Access Pass will receive a discount on Single sites only.
Operated By: Concessionaire
Information Center: It is recommended that only small fishing boats and canoes/kayaks be launched at Big Elk Creek; there is no access to Palisades Reservoir from this location A fee will be collected for extra vehicles at the campground ATVs/OHVs can be used only to enter and exit the campground

General Information


Located 55 miles southeast from Idaho Falls, ID on Highway 26.  Take Forest Service Road # 262 to campground and trailhead.


GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
43.3225, -111.11611
43°19'21"N, 111°6'58"W

From Idaho Falls, Idaho, travel approximately 56 miles on Highway 26 to Palisades Dam. Once at the dam, continue 6 miles east on Highway 26, then turn left onto Forest Road 262 (Big Elk Creek Road) and travel 2 miles to the campground.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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Camping & Cabins

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Campground Camping

$12/night single sites, $24/night double sites. Campground could be utilized after the snow in the spring and before the snow in the fall.

Fire Information Yes
No. of Sites 15
Reservation Info First come, First served
No. of Accessible sites 2 (Gravel)

Group Camping

$50/night up to 35 people, $1/person thereafter.

Fire Information Yes
No. of Sites 3
Reservation Info
No. of Accessible sites 2 - Loop A Gravel
Reservation required?: Y


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Horse Riding & Camping

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Water Activities

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Picnic tables
Drinking water
Boat ramp
Tent camping
Camping trailer
Areas & Activities


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