A common misunderstanding for Lucky Peak Lake visitors is the difference between our State-managed and Federally-managed areas. Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation manages Lucky Peak State Park, the second-busiest park in the Idaho State Parks system. Lucky Peak State Park is comprised of three distinct units: Discovery Park Unit, Sandy Point Unit, and Spring Shores Unit (Marina). It is important to note that State Parks operate independently of the rest of Lucky Peak Lake which is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This distinction is very important to understanding the few differences and inconsistencies visitors may encounter while visiting Lucky Peak Lake, especially those pertaining to fee structures, site reservation information, points of contact, and some of the rules concerning allowable activities in the park areas. These differences are generally attributable to where each organization gains its authorities, missions, and funding – the U.S. Congress and Department of Defense for the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Idaho State Legislature for Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
Discovery Park is a beautiful area on the north bank of the Boise River just below Lucky Peak Dam. Set between the opposing basalt cliffs of the river canyon and along Boise’s Greenbelt exercise path, it offers a number of opportunities on a peaceful summer afternoon, including horseshoe pits, volleyball, picnic sites, waterborne restrooms, green grassy lawns and large reservable shelters great for birthday parties and cookouts. It’s also a very popular launch point for non-motorized boating on the Diversion Pool – the slow-moving body of flat water impounded by the Bureau of Reclamation’s Diversion Dam 1.5 miles downstream.
Sandy Point is a landmark picnic area of the Treasure Valley, with its large sandy beach area and water fountain pushed high in the summertime by the full lake above. At the very end of the 25-mile Boise Greenbelt exercise path, this large park area immediately below Lucky Peak Dam can accommodate several hundred visitors. It offers many picnic tables and grills, sand volleyball pits, acres of sandy beach, a well kept grassy lawn and water features for the kids. Waterborne restrooms and showering facilities are also available here. A 12-basket disc golf course installed in the wintertime provides an inviting alternative to Ann Morrison Park.
Spring Shores Marina is the second-largest boat launch area at Lucky Peak Lake. Several hundred moorage slips are available to rent, and a concessionaire offers boat and jet ski rentals, snacks, drinks, and other odds and ends. A fuel station on the water allows you to top-off your boat without a lengthy tow into town, and a marine pump-out station is available free of charge to empty holding tanks on larger vessels with self-contained sanitation devices.
Detailed information about Lucky Peak State Park Units can be found at their website.
The U. S. Army Corps of Engineers and Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation work closely together to make your visit to Lucky Peak Lake as seamless as possible; however, some confusion will inevitably remain. Below is a short list of differences you’re most likely to encounter.
Fees at areas managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- There is a $5.00 fee to use the Corps-managed boat launch areas at Barclay Bay, Turner Gulch, and Macks Creek Park. This fee applies only to the vehicle launching the vessel and is valid for 24-hours. Use of boat launch areas is free at Robie Creek Park. There are no fees charged for simply sightseeing or any other activities.
- Annual Passes are available for $40 at the Corps of Engineers Lake Office (cash, check and credit) and from summer volunteer Park Hosts at Barclay Bay (credit only). These passes are accepted at all Corps of Engineers boat launch facilities nationwide and are valid for a period of one year from the month of purchase. They are provided on hangtags, which are easily transferrable from vehicle to vehicle.
- Those wishing to reserve one of our 15 campsites at Macks Creek Park must do so online at www.recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Reservation fees are $10 per night for most sites. If using a Golden Age, Golden Access, or similar America the Beautiful Pass, fees are reduced 50% on non-shoreline sites.
- A group use shelter at Robie Creek Park is available for large daily gatherings, accommodating approximately 50 people. It can be reserved for $40 per day. If not reserved, the area is free on a first-come first-served basis.
Fees at areas managed by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation:
- There is a $5.00 fee per vehicle to enter Lucky Peak State Park Units: Discovery Park, Sandy Point, and Spring Shores.
- Lucky Peak State Park has large reservable group use areas available at Discovery Park and moorage slips available at Spring Shores Marina.
- Annual Passes are available at Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation offices and honored at all of Idaho’s state parks. At a deep discount, State Parks Annual Passes can be purchased at the time of vehicle registration renewal through your county Department of Motor Vehicles. The passes are provided as stickers, and cannot be transferred among vehicles.
- Idaho State Parks does not operate any campgrounds at Lucky Peak Lake.
- Rules regarding the control of pets are similar between Corps and State Parks areas, with a notable exception at Idaho State Park’s Sandy Point Unit where no pets are allowed anywhere in the park from May 1 to October 1. Between October 1 and May 1, dogs are allowed off leash in the park.
- Pets in developed recreational areas of Lucky Peak Lake must be leashed, though they are allowed off leash, supervised, at the shoreline to swim and fetch.
- Pets are not allowed at any developed swimming areas including areas at Barclay Bay, Macks Creek Park, and Robie Creek Park. These areas are easily identified by being enclosed with buoy strings and having No Boats buoys.
- In remote hunting and hike-in areas, pets are allowed off leash so long as they remain under your control. At the Turner Gulch and Lydle Gulch areas within Lucky Peak Dam Recreation Area, collection bags are provided and we ask that you collect pet waste and dispose of it in nearby provided trash bins.
- The Corps of Engineers greatly lessens the expense of operating highly dispersed recreational areas by asking you to pack out what you pack in. Litter bags are provided free of charge and are located near most restrooms. During summer months, we provide large dumpsters at Barclay Bay and Turner Gulch in the Lucky Peak Dam Recreation Area, and also at Lucky Peak State Park’s Spring Shores Marina. All three of Lucky Peak State Park’s Units provide ample litter receptacles to meet your needs. Lastly, campers departing Macks Creek can be provided a free temporary pass to enter Spring Shores Marina and drop off litter.
- Corps-managed Day Use Areas are open to the public between the daily published hours of Sunrise and Sunset. Overnight users to boat-in areas and others on the water may leave vehicles and trailers parked in the launch areas overnight, but land visitors in these areas may be asked to leave after dark.
- Lucky Peak State Park’s Sandy Point has seasonal hours which vary and are posted near the gate as you enter the area. To avoid being accidentally locked in, vehicles must be removed from the park prior to closure of the gate; however, you are always welcome to walk or bike into this area during daylight hours regardless of the gate and hours posted.