Horsethief Reservoir continues to be a camping and fishing destination for outdoor enthusiasts across Idaho. As visitation continues to increase, the need has arisen to provide more structured camping to protect the very environment that visitors travel to Horsethief to enjoy.
That effort began in 2018, when three of Horsethief’s east side camping loops -- Beaver Tail, Trout Landing and Horsethief Creek -- were upgraded with compacted gravel loop roads, parking pads, new picnic tables and fire rings.
That project was just the beginning. In 2019, Horsethief Reservoir underwent additional renovation, this time targeting the King’s Point camping loop and the adjacent boat ramp area. The loop road was widened and paved, as were all 28 King’s Point campsites, with each site outfitted with large sand living pads, picnic tables and fire rings. The boat ramp parking area was enlarged and paved to better serve Horsethief boaters. Both were enjoyed by campers and boaters for the first time last year.
In 2020, the Osprey Bay and Easter’s Cove Campground loops were upgraded. The Osprey Bay loop road was graded and paved, as well as the loop camp sites. The Easter’s Cove loop road was properly graded, graveled and compacted to improve camper enjoyment as well. Campsites in both loops were improved, with the installation of new living pads, picnic tables and fire rings. These loops will be open for all to enjoy for the 2021 camping season.
None of this would be possible of course without the collaborative partnership forged in 2017 between the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and three other entities: the Southwest Idaho Resource Conservation and Development Council (SWIDRCD), the Treasure Valley YMCA, and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR).
Next Steps -
This coming summer, Bear Knob and Timber Bay loops will be closed and will receive facelifts of their own. Idaho Fish and Game, SWIDRCD, and the Treasure Valley YMCA received IDPR Recreational Vehicle Fund grants to finance improvements to these camping loops in 2021. Bear Knob campground will mimic King’s Point and Osprey Bay, with a widened, paved entrance road and paved campsites, while improvements to Timber Bay will maintain a more primitive camping experience, similar to Easter’s Cove and the Eastside camping loops.
The next round of development proposals for Horsethief Reservoir involves installing services to a few of the camping loops. There are 2 domestic wells in the area, and these will be used to provide community water spigots to each of the loops for campers. In addition, we are proposing to install electric services to all sites in 2 of the camping loops (Kings Point and Bear Knob) to provide a diversity of opportunities to campers, there are no proposals for further services to any other loops at this time. Lastly, we are proposing to install septic vaults for the host sites in Kings Point - to accommodate our amazing hosts!
Even with all the camping improvements, visitors should not overlook the great fishery that Horsethief Reservoir provides. A study by Fish and Game staff this past fall showed that rainbow trout are the most abundant fish species in Horsethief, ranging up to 15 inches long, followed by brown trout and Kokanee salmon, many of which exceed 14 inches in length. And what goes better with camping than a fresh fish dinner?