Noxon Montana is known for its vast landscape, abundant wildlife and picturesque views. Not too far removed from a Thomas Kinkade painting, Noxon is a quaint town nestled next to the Cabinet Mountains. Easily deceived by the small-town look and feel, most onlookers might miss the fact that it sits amongst two large hydroelectric facilities.
To solve the critical Northwest energy shortage of the late 1940s and early 1950s, 1,700 people worked around the clock completing the Cabinet Gorge dam in just 21 months. This hydroelectric facility stands 208 feet tall and has a generating capacity of 263 megawatts. A dramatic viewpoint on a cliff directly overlooking the dam and powerhouse is open to the public during non-winter months.
Soon after Cabinet Gorge dam was constructed, Noxon Rapids was built in 1959. This dam stands 260 feet tall and has a generating capacity of 488 megawatts, meeting the annual need of 140,000 households. Serving as one of the top bass fisheries in the state of Montana, Noxon Rapids has the largest generating capacity of Avista's eight hydroelectric developments and has the second-largest capacity of any hydro plant in Montana. When the facility was first completed the energy produced there nearly doubled Avista's generating capability.
The two dams do more than generate energy as they are surrounded by thousands of acres of land that offer outdoor recreational activities. The Clark Fork River is generally open to the public and accessible from both land and water for both day-use and camping recreational activities.
The Clark Fork River offers 28 recreation sites, such as the Cabinet Gorge Dam Overlook located near the Montana and Idaho state line. The overlook provides spectacular vistas of Cabinet Gorge Dam, Clark Fork River and surrounding landscape. Interpretive signs describing the construction of the dam and information on Glacial Lake Missoula are available on site.
Please remember that water near a dam can contain hidden dangers. Please play it safe above and below a dam and obey all posting warning signs.