Description - Today, Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir provide irrigation storage and considerable recreational benefits. The storage capacity of the reservoir is 1,016,000 acre-feet, much of the water needed to serve the 335,000-acre North Platte Project is held here until required. During the non-irrigation season, a small amount of water is released to satisfy other water rights and to operate power plants downstream.
This great engineering achievement was regonized in1971 when Pathfinder Dam was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The physical appearance of the dam is essentially the same today as when it was completed in 1909. Pathfinder is noted for its large-scale influence on reclamation of arid western lands. The dam is also recognized as an archetype not only worthy of careful study in preparation for the building of other dams, but also because its masonry construction changed previous theory into practical application.
Pathfinder Reservoir has a shoreline of 117 miles and is used for boating and fishing primarily for German Brown and Mackinaw trout. The reservoir also offers opportunity for camping, picnicking, swimming and hunting. The reservoir records and annual attendance of about 170,000 people.
- Parts of Pathfinder Reservoir are included in the Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge. There are 3 campgrounds and 3 boat ramps. Available species include brown trout, cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, ohrid trout, and walleye. Rainbow and cutthroat trout are stocked annually in the reservoir. The Pathfinder Interpretive Center and 1.7-mile interpretive trail are located near the dam. The interpretive trail may be accressed across the historic suspension bridge or from the dam.
Recreation - The reservoir offers opportunity for camping, picnicking, swimming, boating, fishing, hiking and hunting.
Climate - As throughout the Rocky Mountains, the climate varies drastically depending on elevation. Summers generally offer warm clear days with cool nights. Afternoon thunderstorms are often a possibility in the summer. In the winter, sunshine, with plenty of snow in the higher elevations, are ideal for winter activities. Harsh weather - including wind, cold, and snow - is possible throughout the winter and even throughout the year, in the highest elevations.
Pathfinder Reservoir is located on the North Platte River between Casper and Rawlins. It sits 47 miles southwest of Casper, in Carbon and Natrona counties. Access from U.S. 220 is via County roads 408 or 410.
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