Kerr Dam

Kerr Dam is a concrete gravity-arch dam on the Flathead River downstream from Polson. It’s 204 feet high, which is 54 feet higher than Niagara Falls. A boardwalk and stairway take visitors down to a vista overlook right above the dam. The spring and early summer are great times to visit and watch Flathead Lake’s spectacular teal-colored snow-melt gush full force through the spillway.

The dam and its related hydroelectric project are located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, and operated jointly by PPL Montana, LLC, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The Tribes have the option of purchasing and taking over the dam in 2015.

The dam is named after Frank Kerr, president of the Montana Power Company at the time of the dam’s completion in 1939. It’s a great place to hike and picnic. Visiting here has its somber side: its construction was dangerous and cost some workers their lives. The project also has plenty of critics, since it’s situated at a natural falls that tribal members consider a traditional sacred place.

The site is open all year, dawn to dusk, offering a boat launch on the river, parking, and restrooms. While it is possible to visit in the winter, use plenty of caution if conditions are slippery.

From Polson, head west on Seventh Avenue and continue as it turns into Kerr Dam Road. Follow the signs and you’re there. Call (406) 883-4450.