Henrys Lake

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Henrys Lake
Aerial view
Courtesy of Idaho Tourism
Location Fremont County, Idaho,
United States
Coordinates 44°38′38″N 111°24′22″W / 44.644°N 111.406°W / 44.644; -111.406Coordinates: 44°38′38″N 111°24′22″W / 44.644°N 111.406°W / 44.644; -111.406
Primary outflows Henrys Fork
Basin countries United States
Max. length 4 mi (6.4 km)
Max. width 2 mi (3.2 km)
Surface area 8 sq mi (21 km2)
Average depth 2–9 ft (0.6–3 m)
Surface elevation 6,472 ft (1,973 m)

Henrys Lake is a small, shallow alpine lake, approximately 8 square miles (21 km2) in area, at 4 miles (6.4 km) in length and 2 miles (3.2 km) in width. It is located at 6,472 ft (1,973 m) above sea level in the mountains of southeastern Idaho in the United States. It is on the southwest side of the Henrys Lake Mountains of northern Fremont County, approximately 2 miles south of the continental divide along the Montana state line, just west of Targhee Pass and north of Sawtell Peak. It is 16 miles due west of the western boundary of Yellowstone National Park. The lake is located in Caribou-Targhee National Forest.

The lake was discovered by and named after Andrew Henry.[1]

Springs are found around the shoreline at Staley Springs, Pintail Point, Kelly Springs, the Cliffs, and along the northshore of the lake. Inlets are found at Timber Creek, Targhee Creek, Howard Creek, Duck Creek, Hope Creek, and Kenny Creek. The lake provides the headwaters of the Henrys Fork, a tributary of the Snake River. The lake lies less than 10 miles (16 km) across the continental divide from the headwaters of the Missouri River in southwestern Montana.

A dam built at the outlet of Henrys Lake in 1923 dramatically increased the surface area of the lake.[2]


The area surrounding Henrys Lake has been inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. During the Nez Perce War and following the Battle of Camas Creek near what is now Kilgore, the Nez Perce tribe proceeded eastward toward Yellowstone. After receiving word that the Nez Perce had entered the wilderness area, General Oliver O. Howard rested for several days on the side of the lake. To this point, Howards troops had marched every day for 26 days at an unusually quick pace.[3]

Following the Russian invasion of Finland in 1939, the U.S. Army began construction of a training outpost to be called the West Yellowstone Winter Training Camp near Henrys Lake Station. Plans were created that included a 100,000 acre training area that could hold 30,000 personnel.

Some buildings were constructed in 1941, but were ordered destroyed in 1942. At the time, the military offered no reasoning for the reversal of the plan. It was later discovered by an Ashton resident that the military did not want to interfere with trumpeter swans which used the lake as a breeding ground. The winter training program was relocated to Fort Drum in New York.[4]


Henrys Lake at Sunset (looking North)

The 'official' Continental Divide Trail skirts around Henry's Lake. Many north bound thru hikers opt out of this section when leaving Yellowstone National Park and entering the Centennial Mountain Range in Idaho.[5]

Henrys Lake is a popular destination for sport fishing. The most common species in the lake is Yellowstone cutthroat. They make up 55 percent of the trout population. The average size in 2015 was 15 inches but biologists found some fish over 20 inches. The second most prevalent species is rainbow-cutthroat hybrids, which make up 24 percent of the population. The average size is 19 inches, although Idaho Fish and Game found hybrids longer than 25 inches. Brook trout make up 21 percent of the population. The average length is 16 inches but biologists found several Brook trout that exceeded 20 inches in length. There is a fish hatchery on the north side of the lake that helps to replenish the lake.

White Pelican Flying Over Henrys Lake

Henrys Lake is home to a variety of migrating birds. The western and eastern edges of the lake provide wetland/marsh habitats that serve as breeding areas for many birds in spring. Notable at Henrys Lake are White Pelicans, Widgeon, Lesser Scaup, Cormorants, Red-necked and western Grebes, coots, mallards, bufflehead, Ring-necked Ducks, Canada Geese, Blue-winged Teal, eared Grebe, Killdeer, common Merganser, common tern, Cinnamon Teal, Trumpeter Swans, Great Blue Heron, California Seagulls, Bald Eagles, Swainson's Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, Red-winged Blackbirds, cowbirds and more.

Henrys Lake State Park[edit]

Henrys Lake State Park
Idaho State Park
Country  United States
State  Idaho
County Fremont County
Location Island Park
 - elevation 6,470 ft (1,972 m)
 - coordinates 44°37′11″N 111°22′23″W / 44.61972°N 111.37306°W / 44.61972; -111.37306
Area 585 acres (236.7 ha)
Founded 1973
Management Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation
Location of Henrys Lake State Park in Idaho

On the south shore on the lake is a 585-acre state park off of US 20 near Goose Bay and the Henrys Lake Outlet. This state park is open the Thursday before Memorial Day until the second Saturday of October. It offers a boat ramp, but the docks are taken out the day before closing.

There are 83 overnight campgrounds, as well as cabins in the park. Some of the bathrooms offer showers.[6]

There are hiking trails in the park, both paved and gravel.

Frome Park[edit]

Frome Park is owned and operated by Fremont County on the west shore of Henrys Lake. There is a boat ramp and about 40 campsites, both of which are free. Facilities are limited at Frome Park, especially when compared to the state park across the lake.[7]


  1. ^ Rees, John E. (1918). Idaho Chronology, Nomenclature, Bibliography. W.B. Conkey Company. p. 76. 
  2. ^ "Henry's Fork Drought Management Plan" (PDF). p. 3. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Hampton, Bruce (1994). Children of Grace: The Nez Perce War of 1877. New York: Henry Holt and Company. 
  4. ^ "History uncovered for military base at Henrys Lake". Retrieved July 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ Montana & Idaho's Continental Divide Trail: The Official Guide (The Continental Divide Trail Series) by Lynna Howard and Leland Howard (July 31, 2000)
  6. ^ "Henrys Lake - Idaho Parks and Recreation". Retrieved September 1, 2017. 
  7. ^ "Bill Frome County Park". Retrieved September 1, 2017.