Deer Flat NWR
Snake River Islands Sector Bird Tour
This loop tour of the Snake River Islands sector parallels the Snake River for 10 miles, providing the chance to see 10 of the 101 refuge islands. Some bird species that have been observed along the route are listed. The 46.7-mile tour traverses public roads, and takes 1.5 hours with minimal stops. The tour starts and ends at the east end of the Upper Dam. Map of refuge
There is also a driving tour of the Lake Lowell Sector.
Mile 0.0: At the boat ramp parking lot at the east end of the Upper Dam, set your trip odometer to zero. Turn right out of the lot and proceed east on Iowa Avenue.
Mile 2.0: Turn right off of Iowa Avenue onto Middleton Road.
Mile 2.5: At the stop sign, turn left onto Greenhurst road.
Mile 4.5: At the signal light, turn right onto Highway 45. As you drive south, the Owyhee mountains expand into view as you near the Snake River Canyon. When dropping into the canyon note the basalt cliffs and formations.
Mile 18.4: Turn right off of Highway 45 onto Map Rock Road.
Mile 20.4: Look for Becky (slightly upstream) and Bayah Islands. Becky Island is relatively tall, whereas Bayah Island is lower in elevation. Look for shorebirds on the gravel edge of Bayah Island.
Mile 20.9: Reynolds Creek enters the Snake River on the opposite bank. The gravel delta of this creek is a favorite loafing spot for gulls and Caspian terns.
Mile 21.6: Look for Ware Island, the largest refuge island at 64 acres. This island is tall with a wide-open middle dominated by greasewood and grasses. Note the many goose-nesting platforms on this island. From March to May look for the heads of geese incubating nests on these platforms.
Mile 23.5: Look for Rippee Island, which is also a tall island and is more open than Ware because refuge managers have used prescribed fire to maintain good goose and duck nesting habitat.
Mile 24.0: Look for birds resting on the gravel bar on the upper end of Hermit Island.
Mile 24.3: A restroom is available at the Map Rock landing.
Along the next section of road, note the canyon wall on the right side. Many birds like prairie falcons, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, and ravens use the basalt cliffs for nesting and roosting.
Mile 25.0: Raccoon Island is more forested than the other islands seen so far on the tour. Look for birds and animals that prefer thick cover. Black-crowned night herons nest on this island.
Mile 25.9: Stop at Map Rock to see Native American petroglyphs that depict wildlife and other designs. For the adventurous, climbing the rocks above provides a good overview of the river.
Mile 26.5: Goldeneye Island has an open middle with a brushy edge. The back channel that you see provides habitat for many species, including beaver, muskrat, wood duck, and mallard broods.
Mile 28.9: Foglers Island has the shallowest back channel of any refuge island. Look for birds that like thick riparian cover such as sora rails, yellow-headed blackbirds, and American coots.
Mile 29.0: A restroom is available at the Trappers Flat landing.
Mile 29.6: The large clumps of currant in the center of Cottontail Island provide food and thick cover for many species, including California quail.
Mile 30.7: From this point you can see the end of Dilley Island, which was purchased for the refuge by Idaho Power as mitigation for the construction of C.J. Strike Dam.
Mile 33.0: Turn right onto Deer Flat Road.
Mile 33.5: Turn left onto Riverside Road.
Mile 38.8: As you cross the Lower Dam, you have returned to the Lake Lowell Sector of the refuge. From the dam, watch for birds that like open water, such as western and Clark's grebes.
Mile 40.7: If you want to return to the starting point, turn right onto Orchard Avenue (and follow the directions below). If you want to return to Nampa and I-84, drive 1/2 mile further and turn right onto Highway 55.
Mile 44.4: Turn right onto Lake Avenue and drive south towards the upper dam.
Mile 46.7: You have now reached the start point.
Thanks for taking the Snake River Islands Sector Bird Tour!
If you would still like to see more of the refuge, there is also a driving tour of the Lake Lowell sector.