Elwha River Restoration

Elwha River Restoration is a National Park Service project that includes the largest dam removal in history, restoration of the Elwha River watershed, its native anadromous fish, and the natural downstream transport of sediment and woody debris.

The removal of Elwha and Glines Canyon dams on the Elwha River began in mid-September 2011. Today, both dams are gone, the Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell reservoirs have drained, Elwha River flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, sediment once trapped behind the dams is rebuilding critical river and nearshore habitats, vegetation is being restored in the once barren landscapes of the drained reservoirs, and anadromous salmon and trout are naturally migrating past the former dam sites for the first time in over 100 years.

Start your exploration of this landmark project here, by watching our growing series of short web videos, reading the weekly Elwha River Restoration Blog, checking project webcams and much more.


Restoration of the Elwha River Webisode Series
View a series of webisodes that chronicle the removal of the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams. The webisodes begin with the history of the dams and continue through the dam deconstruction and ecosystem restoration process.


Elwha Closure Map
The former Elwha Dam, Lake Aldwell, and Lake Mills sites, as well as Olympic Hot Springs Road are open to the public. The parking area at the former Glines Canyon Dam site remains closed while additional work and improvements are completed.

The Elwha River and its tributaries within Olympic National Park are closed to all fishing. Boating is prohibited from Upper Lake Mills Trail to Altair Campground.


History of the Elwha
Discovery the history of the Elwha Valley from the glacial retreat to present day.

Barge on Lake Mills from above

Photo Gallery of Elwha River Restoration
View a photo gallery of the Elwha River Restoration project, including the dam removal process.


Elwha in the News
The Elwha River Restoration project has caught the attention of the local, national and international media. The print and broadcast media covering the story of the Elwha River Restoration have each brought a unique voice to the dynamic and complex story of this historic project. View a collection of publications and videos from media outlets covering the Elwha River Restoration here.


This webpage was made possible in part by a grant from Washington's National Park Fund.

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