Monday, July 25, 2016

Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir, 7/23/2016

Just a few miles from where we are staying is the Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir. Because it was a Saturday and we knew Glacier NP would be packed, we decided to spend time exploring the area. 

Our first stop was at the Flathead National Forest Hungry Horse Ranger Station where we picked up information about the reservoir, roads around it, and hiking trails. 

About four miles away is the Visitor Center for the Dam. Here there are displays about the history and building of the dam. You can walk to the dam from the center. 

The Hungry Horse Dam was built in the late 1940s and opened in 1949. There had been many devastating floods in the area and the dam provided flood control as well as hydroelectricity with 4 penstocks feeding 4 generators. It is the 11th largest concrete dam in the US. Below is the reservoir (115 miles in circumference holding about 1.2 trillion gallons of water), the dam, and the downstream view from the dam.

The Glory Hole (shown below) is used to drain the reservoir when there has been greater-than-normal spring runoff and the water level is too high. 

We decided to drive around the entire reservoir (about 100 miles, primarily on well-maintained gravel roads) stopping at overlooks along the way. There are 17 campgrounds in the Hungry Horse Reservoir Recreation Area with lots of boating, fishing, and hiking activities. 

We hiked the Lion Lake Trail that begins at either picnic area accessed by road # 5311. The trail runs along the shore of the lake for about .8 mile each way. Because this is part of the Flathead National Forest, pets are permitted on trails (which made our doggy, Sadie, very happy!). 

Continuing to drive Road 895 we stopped when we saw this osprey nest. When we didn't see any in the nest, we started looking for them in the trees. And sure enough, these two appears to be mates that were scanning the lake for food. 

We stopped at various overlooks along the road including Lakeview and Graves Bay as there are many creeks that flow into the reservoir.

At the southeastern end of the Recreation Area the Billy R. Garrett Memorial Bridge crosses the South Fork Flathead River. We saw families camping, boating, fishing, and enjoying the water.

The Spotted Bear Ranger Station is a couple miles from the bridge. There is information about the area here and some displays about the history and wildlife. 

It's another 50 miles from here back to Martin City on Highway 2 that is very close to the RV park where we are staying. We made a couple more stops on the return trip to admire the views of South Fork Flathead River

And here is a final view of the reservoir. The water levels are kept high during the summer months for recreational purposes. Water is released in autumn and winter to general electricity valued at about $58M annually. The dam provides about 60% of the power used in the Pacific Northwest.

This is a fun place to enjoy the beauty of the countryside in this part of the country. When Glacier NP is really crowded it's a great opportunity for some quiet and serene hiking time. We really enjoyed it, although we were hoping to see more wildlife! For additional information about the Hungry Horse District or other areas of the Flathead National Forest, check them out online.


1 comment:

  1. My husband and I love the outdoors, and we want to introduce our young children to it. This looks like a great area to help them begin exploring, and it's nice that we can also take them camping there. The pictures look so inviting, and I feel like packing up the sleeping bags, tent and food for a long weekend.

    Caroline @ ILSI Engineering