Elwha River Dam Removal

Restoring the Elwha River

Removal of the Glines Canyon and the Elwha dams on the Elwha River began in September 2011 and today both dams are gone. Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell reservoirs have drained and the Elwha River flows freely from its headwaters in Olympic National Park . The 210-foot Glines Canyon Dam is the tallest dam ever removed in U.S. history. Dam removal, revegetation efforts and other restoration work is intended to restore the Elwha’s legendary salmon runs and the ecosystem of an entire river valley.

Ever since Elwha Dam was constructed in 1913, Pacific salmon and other migratory fish have been restricted to just the lower five miles of river. Removing both the 105-foot Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines Canyon dam allows five species of Pacific salmon, as well as steelhead, coastal cutthroat trout and bull trout to return to more than 70 miles of pristine spawning habitat in the river and its tributaries.

Absent from 90 percent of the river for nearly a century, the salmon’s return will have positive effects on the entire valley ecosystem, from insects to eagles. As the river has been to returning to its free-flowing state, the lake beds and surrounding areas are being revegetated with native plants.

The returning salmon and restored river will renew the culture of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, who have lived along the river since time immemorial. Tribal members will have access to sacred sites long since obscured and cultural traditions can be reborn.

Learn more and follow the rebirth of this wild river at www.nps.gov/olym or read the Park’s newspaper, the Bugler.

For animation of these dams deconstruction, visit these web addresses. Be sure to let the trees grow again!




Elwha River
Port Angeles
United States
48° 7' 5.3256" N, 123° 25' 50.6676" W
See map: Google Maps
Elwha River
Port Angeles