Helena and Canyon Ferry Recreation Area
“we saw three swans…we daily see great numbers of gees with their young which are perfectly feathered except the wings which are deficient in both young and old. My dog caught several today, as he frequently dose. …saw several of the large brown or sandhill Crain today with their young”.
July 21, 1805 Meriwether Lewis
The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through this area in late July, 1805 in hopes of finding Sacajawea’s people. Making special notes of intense heat and clouds of mosquitoes and gnats so dense they were compelled to sleep under nets.
The men with Lewis and the boats found the river here a mile wide, shallow enough to pole, and “crowded with islands.”
The earliest documentation of wildlife in the Canyon Ferry area comes from the Lewis and Clark Expedition. From descriptions provided by the Journals, a variety of wildlife species were abundant throughout the area. Species mentioned included Lewis woodpeckers, swans, Canada geese, deer, elk, antelope, beaver, otter, bear, three species of snakes, and sign of buffalo. In addition, the expedition observed big horn sheep just below the present Canyon Ferry Dam and grizzly bear just a few miles south of the present-day Townsend. Deer, elk, and antelope were common along the Missouri as Clark had no trouble providing meat for the expedition from all three species.
Today Canyon Ferry offers the full breadth of water-related recreation opportunities, from sailing and sail boarding to fishing, motor boating and swimming. Camping, picnicking and as wildlife-watching are also.
Montana Lewis and Clark