Big Cottonwood WMA

Before You Go

Fish and Game ownership of Big Cottonwood WMA has preserved access to thousands of acres of adjacent public land. In addition to hunting and fishing, the WMA is a popular destination for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and birding. The WMA is closed to motorized traffic.  There are no restroom facilities on the WMA.

Visiting Hours:

Open year-round, seven days a week.

Contact:

Magic Valley Regional Office

324 South 417 East
Suite 1
Jerome, ID 83338
United States
Phone: 
(208) 324-4359

WMA facts

Primary Purpose: Big game, upland game, and fishing opportunities

Habitat: Sagebrush-steppe canyonland with juniper woodlands

  • 1,454 acres
  • Cassia County
  • Established in 1993

things to know

Big Cottonwood WMA is the only WMA in the Magic Valley Region that supports Rio Grande turkeys.

The WMA is closed to motorized traffic.

There are no restroom facilities on the WMA.

resources

Overview

A ribbon of green with towering cottonwoods meander through the rugged desert canyon of the Big Cottonwood WMA. Diverse habitats support a number of Idaho’s wildlife species and outdoor recreation opportunities.

The WMA is home to reintroduced California bighorn sheep, mule deer, upland birds, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, wild turkeys, bobcat, and a multitude of other wildlife species.

For nearly 110 years, the property was privately owned and operated as a cattle ranch and farm. Idaho Fish and Game was interested in the property in 1993 because it provided important habitats for reintroduced California bighorn sheep, transplanted Rio Grande wild turkeys, and one of the few remaining populations of native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. In addition, the acquisition secured public access to thousands of acres of adjacent federal lands.

Activities

Big game and upland game hunting opportunities are plentiful on the WMA. Mule deer rifle hunting is by controlled permit only and there is an archery unlimited controlled hunt. The area supports huntable populations of ring-necked pheasants and gray partridge and smaller numbers of California quail and chukar partridge. Idaho’s first turkey youth hunt was held Big Cottonwood WMA and continues today. This is the only WMA in the Magic Valley Region that supports Rio GRande turkeys.

Be sure to check Idaho’s Seasons and Rules for up-to-date hunting information.

The native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are abundant in the larger pools in Big Cottonwood Creek. The pools provide good opportunities with tackle, while the narrow creek affords a fun and challenging chance to work artificial flies.

Interested trappers must register by calling or visiting the Magic Valley Regional Office.

Big Cottonwood is an excellent place to view wildlife. Mule deer are year-round residents. In the spring,  male turkeys are often displaying in the meadows. Visitors can enjoy the cool temperatures and listen to their gobbles during the early morning light.

The area is listed in the Idaho Birding Trail as having as many as 122 different species of birds.

The WMA has a popular 1.5 miles of trail trail that continues beyond the WMA boundary into public land.

There is a BLM owned campground at the Big Cottonwood Creek trailhead immediately adjacent to the WMA.

Horseback riding is a great way to explore Big Cottonwood WMA and surrounding public lands.  Visitors can park at the neighboring BLM campground and access the WMA through a horse friendly gate. 

The main horse trail heads south along Big Cottonwood Creek where people can enjoy the sounds of the creek and hopefully catch sight of one of many species of local wildlife.