Hungry Horse Dam is one of the largest concrete arch dams in the US, standing 564 feet tall and offering a rare opportunity to walk or drive across it. Completed in 1953, the dam was constructed to store water for the Columbia River Power System which includes the Grand Coulee Dam downstream in Washington. The dam and Visitor Center are operated by the Bureau of Reclamation and are well worth a visit to discover its history and soak in the views.
Upstream of the dam stretches Hungry Horse Reservoir 34 miles into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, surrounded by 25 majestic mountain peaks. While most large reservoirs are inundated with water sports enthusiasts, the Hungry Horse reservoir enjoys a relatively secret existence. A rarely heard of drive around the entire reservoir is possible on a mostly gravel road, which also offers access to several boat launches and trail heads. This is remote lake and mountain terrain with lush forest and undergrowth, infamous huckleberries, and teeming with native wildlife including our notorious grizzly and black bears.
Camping, boating and the many variations thereof at Hungry Horse Reservoir are very popular among the locals. In summer you may spot campers sunning themselves on islands, or a herd of stand-up-paddle-boarders crawling across the lake’s surface. Motor boats are popular too, with miles and miles to explore and vantages to find. Throughout the summer, foragers are also common sites – folks who go out to gather wild morel mushrooms and huckleberries to sell them to the locavore restaurant market. When you head to Hungry Horse Reservoir, don’t forget to bring a plant identification guide and a container for your berry finds!