Hungry Horse Dam Visitor Center to Reopen

After a year of closure, visitors will be able to delve into the history of the dam once more

By Micah Drew
Traffic crosses the road across the Hungry Horse Dam. Beacon File Photo

After a year closure, the Hungry Horse Dam Visitor Center will reopen over Memorial Day weekend and remain open through the fall.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates the dam, announced the reopening in a press release on May 19. In order to operate the visitor center as safely as possible, guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be followed and fully vaccinated visitors will not be required to wear a mask. Visitors who are not fully vaccinated are asked to continue wearing a mask and socially distance.

“The health and safety of the public and our employees remains our number one priority,” Hungry Horse Field Office Manager Bill Dykes said.

The visitor center features exhibits about the history of the dam and its importance to the Federal Columbia River Power System. Guided outdoor walking tours will be available beginning June 18 on a first-come, first-serve basis with a maximum allowance of 12 people per tour.

Hungry Horse Dam was completed in 1953 across the South Fork of the Flathead River after five years of construction.

At 564 feet high, Hungry Horse is one of the largest concrete arch dams in the United States and its morning-glory spillway, with water cascading over the rim and dropping 490 feet, is the highest in the world.

The dam plays an important role for flood control and recreation in the Flathead Valley, as well as producing hydroelectric power via its four generators, which are capable of producing roughly one billion kilowatt hours of power per year.

The Hungry Horse Reservoir behind the dam is about 34 miles long and offers many recreational opportunities and campgrounds, including some on islands only accessible by watercraft.

Over Memorial Day Weekend, May 28-31, the visitor center will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. Following the holiday weekend, the center will be open Friday through Sunday until June 13, and then daily until Oct. 9.