Mud Lake WMA

Before You Go

Mud Lake WMA consists of 11,468 acres and surrounds Mud Lake, a 4,500 acre lake found in Jefferson County. Two deep marsh units and numerous shallow flooded wetlands contain vital stopover habitat and nesting habitat for waterfowl and shorebirds. An important waterfowl nesting area of the WMA is closed to all watercraft from April 1 – July 15. A wildlife security area is limited to non-motorized travel, does not allow hunting and all dogs must be on a leash in this area.

The average depth of Mud Lake is only 5 feet, yet it provides a variety of fishing and boating opportunities. There are two boat launch access sites found on the WMA. These access sites are the only two locations for overnight camping, which offer restrooms, fire rings and small pavilions.

Visiting Hours:

Open year-round, seven days a week.


Upper Snake Regional Office

4279 Commerce Circle
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
United States
(208) 525-7290

WMA facts

Primary Purpose:  Habitat for waterfowl and waterbird production and migration. Opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, recreation, wildlife viewing, and photography.

Habitat: Seasonal flooded wet meadows, shallow wetlands, permanent wetlands, and sagebrush steppe

  • Size: 11,468 acres
  • County:  Jefferson 
  • Established:  1940

things to know

An important waterfowl nesting area on the western portion of the lake is closed to all watercraft from April 1 – July 15.

Two wildlife security and viewing areas are closed to hunting. (See WMA map.)

Motorized travel is restricted to open, established roads on the WMA. Fish and Game controls and maintains 28 miles of road as useable, but at a low maintenance state.

Camping is limited to 10 days and only allowed at the two camping areas found at both boat ramps.

Dogs must be on a leash year around, unless actively hunting.


Mud Lake WMA was first established to preserve and protect breeding and nesting habitat for waterfowl. While Mud Lake continues to function in its original capacity, it now provides benefits for a large suite of wildlife species. Recreation opportunities can be found for sportsmen and women throughout the WMA.

Mud Lake historically was a seasonally flooded sink area where Camas Creek spread out and disappeared into the aquifer.  These seasonally wet areas extended several miles farther south, east and west from Mud Lake’s present area. Over the years, dikes were built and water was kept in a small, but deeper lake. Agricultural fields now occupy areas that were historically covered by seasonal wetlands.

Today, the 11,468 acres of the WMA and 4,500 acre Mud Lake is a critical stopover during spring and fall for waterfowl and water birds. The shallow lake and surrounding marshlands provide important breeding, nesting, and foraging habitat for numerous species of birds. There are 28 species of waterfowl and 49 species of water birds that use the WMA and surrounding farmlands to meet their habitat needs.

Wildlife species can be found through all of the WMA including the uplands portion. Upland species such as ring-necked pheasant, gray partridge, sage-grouse, jackrabbits, and cottontail rabbits can be found throughout. Big game species also use all portions of the WMA. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and pronghorn frequently use Mud Lake WMA year round.



Hunting season is one of the busiest times of the year on the WMA. Its starts with an early elk hunt in August and rolls on with mule and white-tailed deer hunts, upland game and waterfowl hunting. Mud Lake WMA is found within GMU 63 and is short-range weapons only on the WMA.

Waterfowl hunting is the primary focus of most hunters utilizing the WMA. Waterfowl hunting can be good during the early season up until the lake freezes. Boat access is found at both the north and south sides of the lake for waterfowl hunters. Hunters are encouraged to use non-toxic shot.

Pheasant hunting is very popular on the WMA. Pheasants are stocked weekly during the season to provide additional opportunities for upland hunters.

Mud Lake WMA offers both white-tailed deer and mule deer hunting opportunities. Moose hunting is present for people lucky enough to draw a tag. Elk hunts can also be found on the WMA during certain times of the year.

Wildlife security and viewing areas are closed to hunting.

Dogs must be on a leash year around, unless they are actively hunting.

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


Mud Lake WMA can be a good place for fishing enthusiasts. Anglers can find large-mouth bass during the spring, summer and fall, and yellow perch can be caught during the winter months. 

However, external water management practices and rules make it difficult to manage Mud Lake for a stable fishery.  The region’s water table has dropped and federally mandated winter water minimums have reduced the winter water volume in Mud Lake, which in turn affects dissolved oxygen in the water.  The result is a decline in the ability to sustain a predictable fishery.

The WMA maintains two fishing docks and a fishing pier for anglers.

Management of Mud Lake WMA provides for widespread trapping opportunities across the area. Trappers need to register with the Upper Snake Regional office or WMA staff.

Mud Lake WMA is a great destination for wildlife watching and photography.

The WMA can be a very special place for bird watching in the spring and throughout the rest of the year.   There are 28 species of waterfowl and 49 species of shorebirds that use the WMA. Mud Lake contains very important stopover habitat and nesting habitat for some waterfowl and shorebirds. Trumpeter swans, gold and bald eagles, owls, falcons, and many species of hawks can be found on and around the area. The WMA also contains upland species such as ring-necked pheasant, gray partridge, sage-grouse, jackrabbits, and cottontail rabbits.

Big game species like mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, elk, and pronghorn are sometimes year-round visitors on Mud Lake WMA.

Mud Lake WMA provides a variety of ways to access and a variety of boating options for visitors ranging from kayaks and canoes to water skiing and fishing boats.
Public users are welcome to access the lake with watercraft anywhere they can as long as they follow the motorized access rules on the WMA. 

  • Trailering watercraft into the lake are allowed to put in at two locations - the North and South Boat Ramps.
  • There are 10 low-maintenance developed boat access areas designed for canoe type watercraft. These are designed for watercraft to be lifted and carried to the water, not trailered.
  • There are hundreds of locations where those who want to access the lake can launch small watercraft. 

The size of boat motors allowed on the WMA is somewhat regulated by water depth. Changing water depths on Mud Lake throughout the season offers differing access and naturally separates the variety of boaters who use the WMA.
Even windsurfers take advantage of the lake’s open waters and easy access.

Camping is allowed on two approved and developed areas.  Each has restrooms, an open-air shelter and steel fire rings. Camping is limited to 10 days. Boat ramps for trailered watercraft can also be found at these camping areas.


Four miles of non-motorized trails can be found on the WMA for hiking and horseback riding.

Four miles of non-motorized trails can be found on the WMA for hiking and horseback riding.