ATTENTION: Dogs are not permitted beyond the parking lots. Harriman State Park of Idaho is a waterfowl and wildlife refuge. Dogs cannot be left unattended and must always be on a six-foot leash. Department employees may impound or remove any stray or unattended animals at the owner’s expense. (IDAPA 26.01. 20.175. 09)
There is a $7 Motor Vehicle Entrance Fee (MVEF) per vehicle to visit the Park. Your receipt tab from Harriman is also good for the day at Mesa Falls and Henrys Lake State Park. You can purchase a 2023 Annual MVEF Pass for $80 at Park Headquarters. Vehicles registered in the State of Idaho can purchase a $10 Idaho State Park Passport from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Please Be Bear Aware! The season from May-September sees heightened bear activity in the park, requiring visitors to use extra caution when recreating. Please read park signage where posted, stop by the visitor center to speak with a Ranger, and be aware of your surroundings when visiting. Remember to make noise; travel in groups; only hike/bike during daylight hours.
Guided tours of the Historic Railroad Ranch buildings are available 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day.
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Harriman State Park’s history is a lengthy one–reaching far back into the 1800s, when it was incorporated as the Island Park Land and Cattle Company. This land was purchased by James Anderson, Silas Eccles, and William Bancroft, of the Oregon Short Line Railroad. The Guggenheim family (Daniel, Murray, and Solomon) also purchased shares in the ranch early on. Because of the owners’ heavy involvement in the railroad industry, Island Park Land and Cattle was given the nickname “Railroad Ranch.” In 1908, Murray Guggenheim decided to sell his shares to Edward H. Harriman of New York. Harriman was the Chairman of the Union Pacific Railroad and purchased the shares, sight unseen, after receiving a letter from Eccles, who boasted of the land’s beauty and refuge.
Harriman himself passed away before making it out to Railroad Ranch, but his honor and legacy lived on through his family. Harriman’s wife, Mary, visited the property with their three children: Carol, Averell, and Roland and shortly afterward, purchased another Guggenheim share. For decades, they used the ranch as something of a getaway. While predominantly for cattle, the land was expansive and beautiful, filled with wildlife, trails, and excellent fishing. Roland Harriman and his wife Gladys were frequent patrons and spent most of their time hiking and fishing.
Conservationist John Muir, was a family friend of the Harrimans and held heavy influence on the Harrimans’ decision to donate the land to the state of Idaho. They wanted the land and wildlife to be protected, so the gift came with stipulations. The land was to be managed as “man being in harmony with nature,” thus forming a 16,000-acre wildlife refuge around the land that was managed in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service. What’s more, is that to further the land deed also required that the people who managed the land would be professionally chosen rather than politically. This regulation aided in the formation of the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.
The land was a fully operational cattle ranch up until the day it was turned over to the state. “On April 1, 1977, Railroad Ranch became Harriman State Park of Idaho (used to distinguish from the Harriman State Park in New York, which was also donated by the Harrimans). In 1982, the park officially opened to the public” (100 Years of Idaho and Its Parks).
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Address: 3489 Green Canyon Rd
Island Park, ID 83429
Phone: (208) 558-7368
Hours of Operation: Day-use locations within state parks are open from 7 am to 10 pm, per Idaho state code 26.01.20 (5). Day-use hours may change based on park manager discretion.