The Clark Fork River of Southwest Montana
Although it runs along Interstate 90 from Butte to the border, the Clark Fork remains one of the most underrated rivers in Montana. The Clark Fork has a complicated and almost tragic history. It begins near Anaconda, at the confluence of Silver Bow Creek and Warm Springs Creek. Industrial mining in Butte and smelting in Anaconda devastated much of the area, and heavy metal runoff into the creeks and river nearly destroyed them. Today, however, the Clark Fork is a remarkable story of healing and restoration. The Anaconda Settling Ponds have been so effective in catching mining waste that the Clark Fork is now virtually heavy metal free. As a result, the Clark Fork offers boaters, floaters and fishers mile upon mile of beautiful recreation. Although the Clark Fork resembles more a mountain stream than a river at its start, by the time it reaches Deer Lodge, it has broadened into a quick, decent sized river, perfect for an afternoon of floating. The entire length of the river offers excellent trout fishing, and the light use from fishers and floaters (especially in Southwestern Montana) ensures hours of uninterrupted enjoyment.