Lucky Peak staff schedules ‘rooster tail’ displays

Published April 17, 2012

BOISE, Idaho – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to discharge water April 28 and 29 through Lucky Peak Lake's outlet structure (located adjacent to the powerhouse) to create the classic “rooster tail,” historically one of the area’s popular attractions.  The eight-hour-long displays are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 28 and 29.

The water used to create the displays comes from required release amounts that exceed what can be used for power generation,” said Lucky Peak Lake Operations Manager Joyce Dunning.  The “rooster tail” discharge comes through the dam’s outlet slide gates, nicknamed “flip buckets,” which dissipate the quick moving water's energy by sending it hundreds of feet through the air, creating an arch of spray into the Boise River.  Depending on lake surface elevations, the rooster tail has been observed reaching heights up to 150 feet, Dunning added.

The “rooster tail” display typically attracts a large viewing audience.  Traffic congestion and delays are expected.  To reduce parking challenges and make the display more accessible for all ages, Lucky Peak Dam and Lake staff established a new driving route in 2011, offering the public different views of the rooster tail from the comfort of their own vehicles. 

“The driving route was a big success last year,” said Natural Resources Manager Keith Hyde.  “It fell on Mother’s Day and it was really neat to see at times a carful of three generations together.  With the unpredictability of spring weather too, the driving tour makes this a truly rain-or-shine event.”

The free driving route begins by crossing the top Lucky Peak Dam, then descends the dam getting close to the rooster tail using a graveled service road before exiting through the powerhouse.  Hyde asks participants to drive slowly and remain in their vehicles along the route.

Parking is available near the end of the driving route at Sandy Point State Park or Discovery State Park, operated by Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, where a $5 entrance fee is collected.  Free parking is extremely limited.  Parking will not be allowed along Highway 21, along the access road to Sandy Point, nor the road across the dam.

To get there from Boise, travel east on Interstate 84 for about two miles, take the State Highway 21/Gowen Road exit (Exit 57), and follow Gowen Road/ Highway 21 east for 7.5 miles, passing Sandy Point, and follow event signs to cross Lucky Peak Dam.

A fact sheet about the rooster tail is available on the Web at

Release no. 12-35