Egin Lakes campground open and ready for visitors

Living the Wild Life

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Nestled between a shallow pond and white quartz moving sand dunes north of the Henry’s Fork of the Snake River lies one of the gems of Gem State. Egin Lakes Campground opened for the season on April 25, and runs until Oct. 1.

“We usually try to get here the weekend before May 1, to open the campground and when we got here on Thursday there were a bunch of RV’s lined up on the road,” said Sand Flea, aka Phyllis Malato, who with her husband had been the camp hosts at Egin Lakes for the past eight years. “Everybody calls him “Sand Crab” instead of Pat because he is so crabby, but we love to spend the summers here instead of at home in Pahrump, Nevada.”

The campground is the main entrance to the 10,600-acre St. Anthony Sand Dunes that are about five miles wide, 35 miles long and up to 500 feet high, making them the largest dunes in Idaho. They are a huge playground for off-road vehicles, horseback riders and other recreationalists that can draw hundreds of visitors on most weekends. During the week days, many locals will hike the dunes because of their beauty and wildlife that roam the nearby wetlands and sagebrush covered hills.

On the northwest and northeast edge of the “living” sands are two elk ranches along with the water that helps to draw all kinds of birds and wildlife to the area.

“The camp is miss-named as there is only one lake; or I call it a “pond” as it is only two feet deep,” Sand Flea said. “Elk, moose, deer and the horses that visit love to get in the water and “drop” things that may not be too healthy for the kids to play in. I would only let kid who have a high natural immunity to play in the water.”

The campground was built by and on the Bureau of Land Management land so the federal government controls the access to it. Over several years the campground has continued to be upgraded. Camping there costs from $25 to $60 per night and $5 or a Golden Eagle pass to enter for the day. Daytime users are required to pay the daily fee before leaving their vehicle or to display their pass on the dash by the driver’s windshield or the Sand Crab will ticket you.

Those unfamiliar with the campground should obtain a map at the kiosk of the trails, learn the restrictions and follow them. Information may be found online at www.blm.gov/visit/egin-lakes-campground or you can call the BLM Upper Snake Field Office at (208) 524-7500.

Over the weekend some visitors broke one of the cardinal rules – No Fireworks – and started a fire in the campground. It got the Sand Crab out of bed and he was not a happy camper.

“We got the Fremont County law enforcement involved and then the federal law enforcement from Pocatello came up,” said Pat Malato. “When you mix alcohol and fireworks together, bad things result; but I don’t think those careless young people will do that again as it probably cost them plenty.”

A trip around the lake this week indicated that the local wildlife residents arrived much earlier than the humanoids as sandhill cranes, Red-winged blackbirds and even a moose had left several calling cards.

It is a beautiful campground surrounded by beautiful views but be kind, thoughtful and aware of the other users as it will be crowded as soon as this cold weather leaves.

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