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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.