Birding the Clark Canyon Reservoir and Bannack State Park
Directions: Clark Canyon Reservoir is located 18 miles southwest of Dillon on I-15. Bannack State Park lies 20 miles west of Dillon, and south of State Route 278.
General information: Clark Canyon Reservoir marks the historic location where the Lewis and Clark expedition transitioned from canoes to horse back to cross the Continental Divide. The reservoir is flanked on the north by a paved highway and on the west by a good gravel road. Fishing accesses are found around the reservoir as well as below the dam on the Beaverhead River. Bannack, Montana’s first territorial capitol is a well-preserved ghost town. Good birding can be found in the campgrounds and along the road and stream. Additional bird species can be found along the gravel road leading south from Bannack to Grant which loops back east to Clark Canyon Reservoir.
Habitats: Clark Canyon Reservoir is surrounded by willow/riparian habitat, short grass/sagebrush prairie, and agricultural fields. Late summer mud flats offer shorebird viewing at the west and south inlets to the reservoir. The Bannack area has riparian habitat along Grasshopper Creek and mature sagebrush habitat for several miles south to Grant. species of note: Greater Sage-Grouse, Common Loon, American White Pelican, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Swainson’s Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Prairie Falcon, Virginia Rail, Sora, Sandhill Crane, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Gray Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Loggerhead Shrike, Marsh Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Sage Thrasher, Common Yellowthroat, Wilson’s Warbler, Brewer’s Sparrow, Sage Sparrow, and McCown’s Longspur.
Best viewing season: April - October; November - March for winter species.
Download the Southwest Montana Birding Brochure
Bannack State Park
Bureau of Reclamation Clark Canyon Field Office
Bannack State Park