Tex Creek WMA

Before You Go

Tex Creek WMA is a mix of state and federal lands managed by Idaho Fish and Game for wildlife and wildlife-related recreation.

Located approximately 15 miles east of Idaho Falls, Tex Creek is accessible via county roads. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended, especially during spring and fall. No off-road motorized travel is allowed at any time of year, except for administrative purposes. Most of the county roads are closed December 1 to April 15 to protect wintering mule deer, elk and moose. 

Visiting Hours:

Open year-round, seven days a week.

Contact:

Upper Snake Regional Office

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

WMA facts

Primary Purpose: Terminal winter range for migratory mule deer and elk, and year-round habitat for Columbian sharp-tailed grouse.

Habitat: Sagebrush steppe, aspen forest, woodland, grassland and cultivated cropland.

  • 35,218 acres 
  • Bonneville County
  • Established in 1976

 

things to know

Road access is fairly distributed across Tex Creek WMA. Of the approximately 31 miles of roads open to motorized trave, 24 miles are maintained by Bonneville County and 7 miles are maintained by Idaho Fish and Game. The county roads are generally open to most vehicles, but other WMA roads may not be passable by low-clearance vehicles.

Weather has a big impact on road conditions. During spring and fall, roads are often wet and muddy, making travel across the WMA difficult. Summer thunderstorms may limit access for short periods of time while roads are wet.

Since 1996, Bonneville County has closed approximately 18 miles of roads to motorized travel from December 1 to April 15 to provide secure winter range for mule deer, elk and moose.  See winter travel map for specific restrictions.

resources

Overview

Mule deer and elk migrate up to 70 miles across eastern Idaho, from as far away as Game Management Unit 76, to winter near Idaho Falls. This is Tex Creek Wildlife Management Area, which has the primary purpose of providing high quality and secure habitat for winter range for mule deer, elk and moose. It also supports a wide range of wildlife year-round.

Ironically, the loss of wildlife habitat led directly to the creation of Tex Creek WMA following the construction of Ririe Reservoir and Teton Dam in the early 1970's. After the initial land purchases for the mitigation effort by the Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho Fish and Game and Bureau of Land Management included some of their lands. Each agency owns approximately one-third of Tex Creek WMA, which is currently 35,218 acres. Idaho Fish and Game manages the property through a cooperative management agreement to support eastern Idaho's wildlife.

Over the years land managers have actively improved food and shelter habitat for wintering wildlife; planting shrubs, improving aspen stands and grasslands, and planting annual crops. Shrub plantings of sagebrush, bitterbrush and other species provide hiding cover and food for a variety of wildlife. Improving aspen stands and grasslands increases plant diversity and available forage for lots of wildlife. Agricultural crops, such as winter wheat and alfalfa, provide high quality winter and spring forage for mule deer and elk. 

With the quantity, quality and variety of habitat available on Tex Creek, it supports a wide variety of wildlife. Moose are common. Columbian sharp-tailed grouse, ruffed grouse, dusky grouse and Hungarian partridge are present. Furbearers, nongame species and birds of all kinds thrive here year-round.

Once the snow starts flying, upwards of 4,000 elk and 3,000 mule deer may migrate to the WMA to spend the winter. With the WMA’s close proximity to farms and towns, Tex Creek staff work to keep elk and deer on the WMA and out of nearby farm fields and haystacks. From December 1 to April 15 most of the county roads are closed to protect wintering mule deer, elk and moose on the WMA.

The Henry's Creek fire in 2016 burned almost two-thirds of the WMA. Fire rehabilitation projects began immediately after the fire, including aerial seeding sagebrush and other desirable species, planting sagebrush seedlings, treating invasive annual grasses, and rebuilding fences. Tex Creek staff continue to focus significant resources to rebuild natural forage lost in the fires.

People are drawn to Tex Creek WMA to hunt and watch wildlife. Other popular activities include hiking, fishing, birding and horseback riding.

News

Video

Wildlife on the Move: Tex Creek
Tex Creek WMA: Balancing Change

Activities

Most people visit Tex Creek in October and November to go hunting for big game and upland birds.

While there are some resident mule deer and elk, the majority are migratory and arrive once the snow pushes them out of higher elevations. Moose may use the Tex Creek WA throughout the hunting season.

Ruffed grouse and dusky grouse kick off the hunting season August 30.  Hungarian partridge are available a few weeks later. Columbian sharp-tailed grouse hunting is generally October 1 to 31. 

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

While many streams on Tex Creek WMA may support native Yellowstone cutthroat trout, primary fishing activity on the WMA is in Willow Creek for trout and smallmouth bass.

Furbearer trapping is allowed on the WMA after registering at the Upper Snake Regional office.  However, beaver trapping is not allowed on the Tex Creek WMA.

Tex Creek supports a wide array of wildlife throughout the year, which provides many opportunities to watch wildlife.

Tex Creek WMA has over 20 miles of trail, although most are not well marked or maintained. Additional mileage is available on closed roads across the WMA.

Horseback riding is an excellent ways to explore little-seen portions of Tex Creek. Tex Creek WMA has over 20 miles of trail, although most are not well marked or maintained. Additional mileage is available on closed roads across the WMA.

Tex Creek has 6 approved and developed campsites with steel fire rings.