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Bigfork, Montana Area Chamber of Commerce

Powerful Recreation

Shaded picnic tables with grills and fire pits.  Huge rocks overlooking the Swan River where hikers can rest and take in the view.  Rushing white water, perfect for kayakers. Gently flowing waters that draw fishermen.  Wildflowers in spring.  Chokecherries in summer. Hiking and walking trails along the river. All these things can be found just outside of Bigfork.  And they all came about because of a dam and a power plant.

Back in 1902, Bigfork’s first hydroelectric plant began operations, powering Bigfork and giving the name Electric Avenue to one of the town’s main streets. And through the years, the Bigfork Hydroelectric Project has done more than produce power. The land along the Swan River adjacent to these facilities provides shelter for wildlife and provides recreational opportunities for the public. And thanks to a 2003 agreement with Pacific Power Corporation, there are 480 acres that adjoin the project that are designated for public use.

Located just upstream from where the Swan River rushes into Flathead lake, the “Wild Mile”, offers Class V whitewater that brings kayakers from throughout the world to the annual Whitewater Festival every May. But it’s the land along this stretch of river that provides even more enjoyment.

Along the north side of the river, the Swan River Nature Trail spans two miles from the Kearny Rapids Bridge to Bigfork. Created from a power company road, the trail overlooks the river, the dam and those famous rapids. The fairly level surface makes this a perfect trail for people of all ages and abilities. The trail also provides river access for fishermen, restrooms and picnic tables.

On the south shore, Pacific Park offers shaded picnic sites, restrooms, a nature trail and river access.  Boaters can put in just above the dam while kayakers can begin their run in the whitewater below the dam.

In the shadow of the power plant, Sliter Park features a playground, picnic tables, the Riverbend Stage and new Sliter Memorial Park.

The Bigfork Hydroelectric Project is a perfect example of public and private entities working together for the benefit of all.   To learn more about Bigfork, visit www.bigfork.org.  Media queries may be directed to Carol Beck-Edgar at edgecomm@montanasky.us. 406-837-2061.

To learn more about Bigfork, its parks and recreational opportunities, visit www.bigfork.org.  Media queries may be directed to Carol Beck-Edgar at edgecomm@montanasky.us. 406-837-2061.


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