Dworshak Dam

Trip Start Jul 21, 2016
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Trip End Jul 15, 2017


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Flag of United States  , Idaho
Thursday, September 22, 2016

The fourth river on the 2016 fall Life-in-the-Right-Lane "Rivers Tour" is the Clearwater River which drains north central Idaho into the Snake River at Lewiston.  We drive east out of Lewiston about 20 miles to Orofino, Idaho where the Clearwater River splits into the north fork and the south fork.

Here is where we find a Corps of Engineers campground with full hookups right on the river for only $9/night with senior access discount.  Woo Hoo!!  

Of interest here is the Dworshak Dam on the north fork which the tallest straight axis gravity dam in the Western Hemisphere and is the third highest dam in the United States.  It is 717 ft high, creating a 54 mile long lake. I remember back in late 60's when this dam was being built and the controversy surrounding the Fish not being able to navigate the 700 ft high dam

The solution was to establish a the Dworshak National Fish Hatchery complex at the confluence which raises steelhead, salmon, and rainbow trout.  One of the largest freshwater hatcheries in the world, they raise millions of fish each year.  And it takes 1-4 yrs. for the fish migration to swim out to the Pacific Ocean, cycle around and swim back. Of the 2.3 million steelhead released each spring  smolts only 1% return as adults in a good year.

We spend two nights in the area weathering a little rain system passing thru and relax in the quiet "Aum-like" sounds of the clearwater river as it flows by which almost drowns out the road noise from US highway 12.   I drive up to the Visitor center and fish hatchery to take a look.  On the wall of the visitor center is a relief map of the whole Columbia river drainage which extends far north into British Columbia and Alberta and far south into Jackson Wyoming. 

Nearby is the Canoe Camp of Lewis & Clark where on September 24-25 in 1805 over 200 years ago, they encamped, feverish with exhaustion and illness and built canoes to float down the Snake River and on down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean.  I am struck with the "Undaunted Courage" as one author put it of their journey as I look out on the high mountains and rushing water.  The west is big,  open, rugged, country for the most part and this area is particularly rugged with few inhabitants.  Imagine what it was like 200 years ago.  mmmm

Well off to the next river....
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