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Clearwater Valley "Chain of Lakes"

Chain-of-Lakes There are more than two dozen sizable lakes in the Clearwater River Valley, the most famous being the half dozen that form the "chain of lakes" through which the Clearwater River flows. From north to south these lakes are: Rainy Lake, Lake Alva, Lake Inez, Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake. These lakes are easily accessible from Hwy. 83 and most have modern, developed campgrounds nearby.

Clearwater River Location: The Clearwater River flows south from its headwaters in the Swan Range to its junction with the Blackfoot River near Clearwater Junction. Many forest roads provide access to the river for fishing, hiking and bird watching. Supports average populations of rainbow trout, brook trout, whitefish, kokanee salmon and bull trout.

Salmon Lake

Location: Highway 83 follows the shore line of Salmon Lake in the lower Clearwater Valley. Several private homes and summer cabins are located on this lake. Legendary Lodge, owned and operated by the Catholic Church, is also located here. The facility is busy all summer with youth camps and retreats. Facilities: The Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks operates and maintains a State Recreation Area on Salmon Lake. The campground is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 20 camping units are available at this developed site which also offers flush toilets, a boat launch and picnic area. There is a charge for overnight camping. A Day Use Area is maintained nearby and is popular among water-skiers.

Placid Lake

Location: Take the Placid Lake Road near mile marker 12 on Hwy. 83 (3 miles south of Seeley Lake). Travel 3 miles west on the gravel road to the State Recreation Area. Facilities: Open Memorial Day through Labor Day. 42 camping units, developed water, flush toilets and a boat launch. Placid Lake is popular among sailboat enthusiasts and water-skiers. There is a charge for overnight camping. Note: There are many private homes on Placid Lake and public access in some areas is limited.

Lake Inez

Location: On Hwy. 83 about 6 miles north of the town of Seeley Lake. The Lake Inez road is located at the north end of the lake and is marked by a small Forest Service sign. Facilities: Boat launch, parking area, toilets, picnic area, several undeveloped camp sites.

Lake Alva

Location: About 8 miles north of the town of Seeley Lake on Hwy. 83. The entrance road to the campground is marked by a large Forest Service sign. Facilities: Open as long as weather permits. (The Forest Service does not plow the road open in the winter.) 43 camping units, a small picnic area, water play area, handicapped facilities, toilets and a boat launch. Camping for small groups is available with advance reservations. Call the Seeley Lake Ranger District, 677-2233. There is a charge for overnight camping during the summer season.

Rainy Lake

Location: About 9 miles north of the town of Seeley Lake on Hwy. 83 at the top of a hill. Take the gravel road on the west side of the highway about 1/4-mile to the parking area. Facilities: Three unimproved campsites are located on the shore of Rainy Lake. Small boats or canoes must be carried about 100 yards to the lake. A vault toilet is provided here.

Clearwater Lake

Location: Take the Clearwater Loop Road #4370 (near the State Highway Maintenance Shop just north of Rainy Lake.) Travel east on this forest road for about 5 miles, following the signs to Clearwater Lake, which is marked by a Forest Service sign and a small parking area. A 1/4-mile hiking trail leads to the lake, which is popular among youth groups and families.