second largest freshwater lake in the west, it is easy to imagine the
possibilities for fun on the water in North Idaho. Only Flathead Lake in Montana
is larger. However, Lake Pend Oreille is not the only water possibility in North
Idaho. There are hundreds of lakes and ponds, some of which are impressive in
their own rights. To the south are Hayden Lake, Lake Cocolalla, and Lake Coeur
d’Alene, a body of water almost as large as Lake Pend Oreille. There is also
every kind of stream and river. Rapid Lightning Creek fits its name, with
roaring torrents of rushing water for much of the year. The Pack River and Clark
Fork River both offer kayaking, and for the more tame, lake kayaking, sailing,
and rowing can be had on the larger lakes. The Pend Oreille River is ideal for
motor boating and water skiing. Wind surfing can be seen on many of these
waterways, though it is not as popular here as on Lake Tahoe or the Columbia
World War II over 300,000 sailors trained near Farragut State Park near Bayview
on Lake Pend Oreille, and Navy submariners still train for submarine sonar at
the naval station there.
and snorkeling fans find a wonderful inland outlet for their sport. This is
truly one of the nation’s best places for water sports. Below you will find
several resources to satisfy whatever your boating or water needs may be.
The Clark Fork is
a river in Montana
and Idaho, approximately 360 miles long.
The largest river by volume in Montana, it drains an extensive region of the
Rocky Mountains in western Montana and northern
Idaho in the watershed of the Columbia River,
flowing northwest through a long mountain valley and emptying into Lake Pend Oreille
in northern Idaho. The Pend Oreille River,
which drains the lake to the Columbia, is sometimes included as part of the
Clark Fork, giving it a total length of 479 mi, with a drainage area of
25,820 sq mi. In its upper 20 mi in Montana near Butte,
it is known as Silver Bow Creek. Interstate 90
follows much of the upper course of the river from Butte to northwest of
The Clark Fork
should not be confused with the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone
which is located in Montana and Wyoming.
It rises as
Silver Bow Creek in southwestern Montana, less than 5 mi from the continental divide
near downtown Butte, from the confluence of Basin
creeks. It flows northwest and north through a valley in the mountains, passing
east of Anaconda,
where it changes its name to the Clark Fork, then northwest to Deer Lodge.
From Deer Lodge it flows generally northwest across western Montana, passing
south of the Garnet Range
toward Missoula. Five miles east of Missoula, the river receives the Blackfoot River.
The confluence is currently drowned by the reservoir behind the nearly
100-year-old Milltown Dam. The dam is slated for removal in 2007.
Missoula, the river continues through a long valley along the northeast flank of
the Bitterroot Range,
through the Lolo National Forest.
It receives the Bitterroot River
from the south-southwest approximately 5 1/2 mi west of downtown Missoula, and
receives the Flathead River
from the north near Paradise.
It receives the Thompson River
from the west near Thompson Falls
in southern Sanders County.
At Noxon, Montana,
along the north end of the Bitterroots near the Idaho border, the river is
impounded by the Noxon Rapids Dam
to form a 20 mi long reservoir. It crosses into western Bonner County
in northern Idaho near the town of Cabinet, Idaho.
Approximately 5 mi west of the Idaho-Montana state line, the river enters
the eastern end of Lake Pend Oreille, near the town of Clark Fork.
During the last
from approximately 20,000 years ago, the Clark Fork Valley lay along the
southern edge of the Cordilleran ice sheet
covering western North
America. The encroachment of the ice sheet formed an
ice dam on the river, creating Glacial Lake Missoula
which stretched through the Clark Fork Valley across central Montana. The
periodic rupturing and rebuilding of the ice dam released the Missoula Floods,
a series of catastrophic floods
down the Clark Fork and Pend Oreille into the Columbia which sculptured many of
the geographic features of eastern Washington
and the Willamette Valley of Oregon.
In the 19th century
the Clark Fork Valley was inhabited by the Flathead
tribe of Native
Americans. It was explored by Meriwether Lewis
of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
during the 1806
return trip from the Pacific. The river is named for William Clark.
A middle segment of the river in Montana was formerly known as the Missoula
Since the late
many areas in the watershed of the river have been extensively mined
for minerals, resulting in an ongoing stream pollution problem. Most pollution
has come from the copper mines in Butte and the smelter in Anaconda. Many of the
most polluted areas have been designated as Superfund
sites. Nevertheless the river and its tributaries are among the most popular
destinations for fly fishing in the
Today, the Clark
Fork watershed encompasses the largest Superfund
site in America. As a mega-site, it includes three major sites: Butte, Anaconda,
and Milltown Dam/Clark Fork River. Each of these major sites is split up into
numerouse sub-sites known as Operable Units.
Due to mine
tailings from the Silver Valley, the river historically had very high levels of
lead. Today, however, it is a popular destination for water-skiing, tubing, and
swimming for locals.
All of the real
bodies of water in the film Dante's Peak
were either the Coeur d'Alene River or one of its tributaries, as Wallace, Idaho,
where the movie was filmed, is in the Silver Valley.
The Kootenay River (spelled Kootenai
River for its American portions) is the uppermost major tributary of the Columbia River,
flowing through British Columbia,
It is one of the few rivers in North America
which begins in Canada, enters the United States and then reenters Canada.
originates in the Rocky
Mountains of eastern British Columbia, and initially
flows south through Kootenay National Park,
merging into the Rocky Mountain Trench
near Canal Flats, British Columbia
(here it passes within a kilometer of Columbia Lake,
the headwaters of the Columbia). It continues southwards along the Trench
towards the United
States border, and at Wardner,
it widens into the Lake Koocanusareservoir
created by the Libby Dam
near Libby, Montana.
Koocanausa spans the
Canada-U.S. border; below the dam the river resumes
(using the Kootenai spelling), veers westwards out of the Rocky Mountain
Trench, collects the tributary Fisher River,
and Moyie River,
crosses into Idaho, passes through Bonners Ferry,
then turns northwards again. It re-enters Canada south of Creston, British Columbia,
and widens into Kootenay Lake.
At Nelson, British Columbia
the Kootenay becomes a river again, now flowing southwest towards Castlegar,
where it joins the Columbia River.
In the 1970s, it
was proposed that the Kootenay River be diverted into the Columbia River (the
two rivers are separated by a distance of no more than one mile in the Rocky
Mountain Trench in southeastern British Columbia). This would allow for the
generation of increased hydroelectric power. The proposal was strongly opposed
by both environmentalists as well as local residents. The economy of
southeastern British Columbia is strongly dependent on tourism, with the
Columbia River, including Columbia Lake and Windermere Lake (British
being very popular for summer swimming and boating activities. Diversion of the
glacier-fed Kootenay River would have resulted in the Columbia River becoming
much deeper and colder, flooding lake-side residences and damaging tourism. As a
result, this proposed river diversion was never undertaken.
Kootenai River Drainage
The Kootenai River is located at
the north end of the Idaho Panhandle in Boundary County. It originates in
southeastern British Columbia, flows south and west through Montana, and
northwest through Idaho, then returns to Canada where it flows through Kootenay
Lake and joins the Columbia River at Castlegar, British Columbia. At the
International border at Porthill, Idaho, it drains approximately 13,700 square
miles with an average discharge of 16,100 cfs. The 66 miles of river in Idaho
can be divided into two reaches. The 47-mile section from Porthill to Bonners
Ferry is a slow moving, broad, meandering river with holes up to 100 feet deep.
Water level is affected by a dam at the outlet of Kootenay Lake. The 19 miles of
river upstream from Bonners Ferry to Montana flows in a canyon with an average
gradient of 3 feet/mile.
The Kootenai River is the only
drainage in the State of Idaho where ling (burbot) are native. The Kootenai
River is also home to the white sturgeon. Fisheries for both of these species
have been closed in response to major declines in these populations. The
Kootenai River white sturgeon was listed as an Endangered Species on September
Inland (redband) rainbow trout are
native to the Kootenai River drainage and are present in the mainstem Kootenai
River and above barriers in some tributaries. Hatchery rainbow trout have been
widely introduced throughout the drainage, however. Other native salmonids
include westslope cutthroat trout, bull trout, and mountain whitefish.
Introduced eastern brook trout are present throughout the drainage, and a few
remnant early spawning kokanee salmon from Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, are
present in the mainstem Kootenai River and some west side tributaries during the
summer and fall. Kokanee salmon also enter the Kootenai River from Libby
Reservoir during some years.
Numerous mountain lakes in the
Selkirk and Purcell ranges are stocked with trout fry on a rotating basis.
Westslope cutthroat trout, domestic Kamloops rainbow trout, and brook trout are
present in most of the lakes, although a few lakes are reserved for specialty
species, such as Arctic grayling and golden trout.
Numerous natural lowland lakes
provide a mixed bag fishery for trout and spiny-rayed species. Naturalized
populations of largemouth bass, black crappie, brown bullhead, yellow perch, and
pumpkinseed are present in most lakes. Channel catfish, tiger muskie, and
bluegill have been introduced in some lakes. Put-and-take rainbow trout, brook
trout fingerlings, and some kokanee salmon are stocked in these lakes to provide
The majority of waters in the
Kootenai drainage produce fishing for trout. The Kootenai River and its
tributaries, mountain lakes, lowland lakes, and the Moyie River with its
tributaries all provide moderate amounts of relatively high quality trout
The Moyie River is a tributary of the Kootenay River
(spelled Kootenai in the United States) in Idaho
and the Canadian province
of British Columbia.
The Moyie River is part of the Columbia River
basin, being a tributary of the Kootenay River, which is tributary to the
The Moyie River
originates in southeast British Columbia. It flows northeast and east,
collecting many headwater streams, before turning south and entering Moyie Lake.
The river exits Moyie Lake to the south, flowing south and west by the village
of Yahk, British Columbia
and Yahk Provincial Park
before entering Idaho at Kingsgate,
and Eastport, Idaho.
In Idaho, the
Moyie River flows nearly due south, emptying into the Kootenai River near Moyie Springs, Idaho,
several miles east of Bonners Ferry, Idaho.
Near its mouth, the Moyie River tumbles over Moyie Falls. Near the falls is
Moyie Dam, constructed in 1949.
The river has
several oddly named pairs of tributaries. South of Moyie Lake the river collects
the tributaries of Sunrise Creek and then Sundown Creek. Farther south, it
collects Irishman Creek and then Englishman Creek. At Yahk, Hawkins Creek joins
the Moyie River. Hawkins Creek has two tributaries that begin in the United
States and flow north into Canada: Canuck Creek and America Creek. Another odd
name occurring along the river is the town of Good Grief, Idaho.
The river is
paralleled by Highway 95
and the Crowsnest Highway
in British Columbia, and, briefly, U.S. Route 95
in Idaho. The river is also paralleled by railroads: the Union Pacific
in Idaho and the Canadian Pacific
in British Columbia.
Moyie Falls, near
the mouth of the river, effectively blocks the migration of fish. In addition,
various dams on the Kootenay River block fish migration. There are resident
in the upper Moyie River and in Moyie Lake. These are thought to have been
introduced during the 1940s and since naturalized.
British Columbia's Geographical Names Information System, the word "Moyie" is a
corruption of the French "mouiller" or "mouillé", a name given by fur trappers
referring to the wet conditions, also described by David Thompson
in 1808. Thompson called the river "McDonald's River". Governor Simpson
called it "Grand Quête River". Captain Palliser
called it "Choe-coos River". The name "Moyie" was originally pronounced "moo-YAY",
indicating its French origin, but today is commonly pronounced "moy-EE".
According to the
USGS, variant names for the Moyie River include: Methow, Mojie, Mooyie, and
The Pack River
is located in Northern Idaho.
Headwaters originate in the Selkirk Mountains,
and flow in a southerly direction over 40 miles to the river’s mouth at
the northern tip of Lake Pend Oreille.
It is the second largest tributary to the lake, after the Clark Fork River.
The Pack River
basin drains approximately 185,600 acres. Watershed elevation ranges
from a high of 7,550 ft to a low point of 2,050 ft at the lake, with a
basin-wide average elevation of 3,730 ft. The upper portion of the watershed is
mostly forested, and managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
The lower watershed is under mixed public and private ownership, and supports a
variety of uses.
precipitation in the basin is 35.8 inches, much of which falls as winter snow in
the mountains. Mean annual river flow at a mid-river gage is 344 ft³/s, with the
highest mean monthly flows occurring in May (939 ft³/s) and the lowest mean
monthly flow in September (54.7 ft³/s). Peak river flows for a 100-year event
exceed 4,150 ft³/s. Pack River and its tributaries often experience more than
one run-off event per year. Mid-winter rain-on-snow events can result in rapid
snow melt, and in some years the peak flow from tributary watersheds occurs
during these events. Following the 56,000 acres Sundance wildfire in
1967, removal of the forest canopy was hypothesized to have produced an increase
in annual stream flow from the basin and an advance of the peak flows by virtue
of decreased transpiration losses and earlier snowmelt runoff generation.
geology in the Pack River watershed is largely granitic, which decomposes into
fine particles. Glaciation in the Pack River valley formed ice dams upstream of
the confluence of many tributaries, resulting in large deposits of glacial till.
Fine sandy sediments deposited in the dammed water are known as glacial fluvial
deposits. These sandy areas today appear on mountain side slopes, forming very
Because of the
high potential for sediment delivery to the Pack River, land use practices such
as road building, timber harvesting, grazing, agriculture, and residential
development must be carefully managed. Any loss of riparian vegetation and
associated root masses can result in delivery of fine sediment to the stream
The Pack River
watershed is home to a number of species protected by the Endangered Species Act.
a threatened species, hatch in the upper river, and migrate the length of the
river to grow upwards of 30 inches in Lake Pend Oreille before returning as
adults to spawn again in the upper river. Terrestrial species found here include
the endangered woodland caribou
and grey wolf,
and threatened species grizzly bear,
and bald eagle.
Idaho wildlife species of special concern supported by the Pack River watershed
include the wolverine,
and the white-winged crossbill.
abundant wildlife species that rely on this watershed include westslope
cutthroat trout, brook trout, kokanee salmon, white-tailed deer, mule deer,
moose, elk, black bear, mountain lion, mountain goat, river otter, mink,
muskrat, beaver, osprey, peregrine falcon, turtles, a variety of hawks and owls,
migratory songbirds and waterfowl, several species of game birds, and many other
Near the mouth of
the river is the Pack River Flats Wildlife Management Area managed by the Idaho
Department of Fish and Game, located 9 miles east-northeast of the town
and 4 miles northwest of the town of Hope.
The Pack River Flats is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Canada geese nest on
the platforms in the marsh. Geese, swans, and ducks congregate here in spring
and fall during their migration. This area also provides public access to
wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing. The Pack River Flats is important
ecologically to moose, deer, elk, and waterfowl. Although there is currently no
active eagle nesting here, eagles come to the area in the winter to feed on
carrion and waterfowl. Before completion of Albeni Falls Dam
on the Pend Orille River
in 1952, the lake level dropped after the spring runoff. Pack River Flats was a
natural meadow then, and archaeological evidence suggests that it was
historically an important site for Native Americans.
The Pack River
supports numerous recreational pursuits. Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and river
floating are common activities. To protect the river environment and reduce
conflicts with other recreationists, motorized watercraft are prohibited above
the Highway 200 bridge. In the watershed, hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, rock
climbing, and wildlife viewing opportunities abound.
Pend Oreille River
Oreille River is a tributary
of the Columbia River,
approximately 130 miles
long, in northern Idaho
and northeastern Washington
in the United States,
as well as southeastern British Columbia
In its passage through British Columbia its name is spelled Pend d'Oreille River. It drains a scenic area of the Rocky Mountains
along the U.S.-Canada border on the east side of the Columbia. The river is
sometimes defined as the lower part of the Clark Fork,
which rises in western Montana.
The river drains an area of approximately 25,820 sq mi, mostly
through the Clark Fork and its tributaries in western Montana.
The Pend Oreille
River begins at Lake Pend Oreille
in Bonner County, Idaho
in the Idaho Panhandle, draining the lake from its western end near Sandpoint
(The Clark Fork River enters the lake from is eastern end). It flows west,
receiving the Priest River
from the north at the town of Priest River,
then flows into southern Pend Oreille County
in northeastern Washington at Newport.
Once in Washington it turns north, flowing along the eastern side of the Selkirk Mountains.
It flows roughly parallel to the Idaho border for approximately 50 mi,
through the Colville National Forest,
and Metaline Falls.
It crosses the international border into southeastern British Columbia, looping
west for about 15 miles and joining the Columbia from the east,
approximately 2 mi north of the international border and approximately 5 miles south of Montrose.
There are five
dams on the Pend Oreille River: Waneta (owned by Teck Cominco) and Seven Mile
(B.C. Hydro) dams in Canada, Boundary (Seattle City Light), Box Canyon (Pend
Oreille County PUD), and Albeni Falls (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) dams in the
United States. None provide for fish passage.
according to the USGS,
include: Bitter Root River, Bitterroot River, Clark Fork, Clarke Fork, Clarkes
Fork, Clarks Fork, Deer Lodge River, Hell Gate River, Missoula River, Pend
d'Oreille River, Silver Bow River, Clark's Fork, and Pend-d'Oreille River.
Pend Oreille River Drainage
The Pend Oreille River drains about
24,200 square miles of land in western Montana and the Panhandle of northern
Idaho. Most of the 2,133 square miles of the drainage within Idaho lie in Bonner
County. Major tributaries of the Pend Oreille River include the Clark Fork,
Flathead, Bitterroot, Blackfoot, and St. Regis rivers in Montana and the Priest
and Pack rivers and Lightning Creek in Idaho.
Pend Oreille Lake is the largest
natural lake in Idaho covering 85,960 surface acres with a shoreline length of
111 miles. The lake basin is deep and steep-sided with a maximum depth of 1,152
feet and mean depth of 538 feet. The combined surface area of Pend Oreille Lake
and the backwaters of Albeni Falls Dam, located on the Pend Oreille River 23
miles downstream of the lake, is 94,720 acres.
Priest and Upper Priest lakes are
glacial lakes connected by a shallow winding channel. Priest Lake has a surface
area of about 23,360 acres with a maximum depth of 369 feet and mean depth of
123 feet. Upper Priest Lake is accessible only by boat or foot trail, covers
about 1,400 surface acres, and has a maximum 100-foot depth. Spirit Lake has a
surface area of 1,477 acres and a maximum depth of about 90 feet.
Westslope cutthroat trout, pygmy
whitefish, mountain whitefish, and bull trout are the only salmonids native to
the Pend Oreille drainage in Idaho.
Introduction of exotics has played
both a positive and negative role in shaping the fisheries of the Pend Oreille
drainage. Lake Superior whitefish were introduced to Pend Oreille in 1889.
Eastern brook trout were widely distributed in the early 1900s and were
successful in outcompeting and eventually replacing native cutthroat in some
watersheds. Lake trout were introduced into Priest and Pend Oreille lakes in the
During the 1930s, kokanee salmon
became established in Pend Oreille Lake by moving naturally into the system from
Flathead Lake in Montana in the early 1900s. Kokanee salmon were transplanted
from Pend Oreille Lake to Spirit Lake in 1937 and Priest Lake in the 1940s.
Kokanee established themselves quickly in each of these lake systems, displacing
native mountain whitefish in the open water habitat.
The introduction of channel
catfish, tiger muskie, and bluegill sunfish has diversified the warmwater
fishery in several lakes. Other game fish in the Pend Oreille drainage include
brook trout, brown trout, largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, tiger
muskie, yellow perch, black crappie, pumpkinseed, bluegill, bullhead, and
Other Idaho Lakes, Rivers & Reservoirs
Idaho has areas of both
substantial and negligible topographic relief due to geographic and geologic
features creating rivers, creeks, and lakes. Several major river systems cross
Idaho and two large rivers are contained completely within the state. The single
most unifying geographical feature is the Snake River which has its source in
the mountains of Yellowstone National Park
and meanders west to the Oregon border and then north to Hells Canyon, where it joins the Salmon,
continuing north to Lewiston, where the Clearwater enters, and heads west to
join the Columbia River. The river is more than 1,000 miles long and drains more
than 100,000 square miles of country. The Snake River carries 40 million
acre-feet of water and drops more than 7,000feet in elevation by the
time it empties into the Columbia River.
The Snake River system contains
many canyons along its expanses across Idaho. The Snake runs through a canyon
fifty miles long as it enters Idaho from Wyoming. Several rivers, tributaries,
flow into the Snake and enter through their own canyons. Blue Lakes Canyon is on
the Snake River five miles below Shoshone Falls near the city of Twin Falls.
Blue Lakes Canyon contains farmland and a country club along the Snake River
almost 500 feet straight down from the desert floor. The Hagerman Valley is
another interesting segment of the winding Snake River containing a grand
Canyon. This valley is a wide canyon having a high, steep north wall that issues
beautiful flowing springs, Thousand Springs. Here, millions of gallons of water
gush from the rocky canyon wall cascading into the Snake River. Hydrologists
infer that the water source is the Big Lost Sinks
where the Big and Little Lost River’s
disappear into the lava beds near Arco about 150 miles northeast of Hagerman
The most well known part of the
Snake River Canyon, however, is between Idaho and Oregon. It is Hells Canyon,
the Grand Canyon of the Snake, or Seven Devils Canyon. It is 7,900 feet from the
bottom of the canyon to the top of Devil Peak. This makes it the deepest gorge
in North America. It is about 2,250 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon of the
Colorado River in Arizona.
In addition to deep canyon
gorges the Snake also has several important waterfalls as a result of sudden
regional changes in elevation. These include the spectacular Shoshone Falls
which boasts, 212feet of relief, 52 feet more than Niagara. Other
waterfalls in the state include Big Fiddler Creek which has one of the highest
falls in Idaho - 600 feet high. It is on the South Fork of the Boise River above
Arrow Rock Dam. Moyie Falls is noted for its stone formations which make the
water seem to be full of colored glass crystals. It is on the Moyie River near
Bonners Ferry. Several towns in Idaho are named after waterfalls: American
Falls, Idaho Falls, Post Falls, and Twin Falls.
The untamed and imposing
Salmon River - "River of No Return" - winds 425 miles through the mountains of
central Idaho, its canyon gorge deeper than the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. It
flows through the Sawtooth Wilderness Area
and finally joins the Snake about fifty miles south of Lewiston. A spawning
stream for pacific salmon, it is one of the longest and most rugged rivers lying
wholly within one state.
The Clearwater River,
of northern Idaho, is another major river system lying entirely within Idaho’s
boundaries. Bitterroot mountain streams feed the Clearwater. The Clearwater was
used as a passageway by explorers and trappers, and later by miners and loggers
because it was much more tame than its counterpart the Salmon River.
Far to the south is the Bear
River, 300 miles long, which originates in Utah's Uinta Mountains, winds back
and forth north to Wyoming, back to Utah, back to Wyoming, and then enters
Idaho. It moves north (staying south of the tributaries of the Snake) and then
back southwest, to where it enters Utah and deposits its water in the Great Salt
Lake. Early trappers found beaver along the Bear. The Oregon and California
trails entered Idaho with the Bear River and followed it for a considerable
Major rivers in northern
Idaho include the Kootenai and Pend Oreille, which flow into the Columbia; the
Clark Fork, which flows into Lake Pend Oreille; the Saint Maries, the Saint Joe
(St. Joe), and the Coeur d'Alene,
which flow into Lake Coeur d'Alene; and the Spokane River which carries the
waters of Coeur d'Alene Lake to the Columbia.
The Boise, Payette
and Weiser flow into the Snake in southwestern Idaho as it forms the Oregon
border, and there are many shorter tributaries of the Snake in southern Idaho.
Idaho has more than 2,000
lakes with names, and thousands of others without names. Some Idaho lakes can't
be found on any map! Two of Idaho's northern lakes are said to be among the most
beautiful in the world. Lake Coeur d'Alene and Lake Pend Oreille (the largest in
the state with a surface area of 180 square miles). Both are large beautiful
lakes in Bonner, Kootenai, and Benewah counties. Lake Coeur d'Alene is a popular
Farther north of Lake Pend Oreille
is Priest Lake, early a heavily used trapper area. A few miles south of Pend
Oreille is Hayden Lake. Surrounded by forested mountains, all of these lakes are
in spectacular settings.
in central Idaho north of Boise is also a significant summer recreation
destination. Farther east, in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Redfish,
Stanley, and Alturas lakes fulfill the same role.
In eastern Idaho, only
fifteen miles from Yellowstone, is Henry's Lake, a favorite trapper hangout and
trout fishing lake. Farther south is turquoise Bear Lake, half in Idaho and half
Many of Idaho's lakes are
actually reservoirs, formed behind the numerous dams
on the state's waterways. Dams are constructed to store
irrigation, to generate hydroelectric power, and to keep flood water from
destroying farms and cities. Idaho's rivers have such dams as the Anderson Ranch, Arrow Rock,
Lucky Peak, Black Canyon, Dworshak, and many others.
Idaho’s five major cities
are located on the Snake or its tributaries. A dozen or more dams were
constructed along its course alone to provide affordable irrigation water and
hydroelectric power for thousands of farms, homes, and most of Idaho's
industries (two-thirds of the population of Idaho live in the fertile Snake
River Valley). The Snake River has dams and reservoirs at Palisades, near the
Wyoming line, American Falls,
Minidoka, Salmon Falls, Brownlee, Oxbow, and Hells Canyon.
River water that is captured in reservoirs or flows on to the ocean comes, not
from rainfall, but from the snow that accumulates on the vast peaks of Idaho's
mountains. Shifting sand dunes near St. Anthony, Bruneau, and Weiser reveals the
fragile environment of the semiarid Snake River Plain.
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