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Pathfinder Reservoir is the oldest reservoir along the North Platte River. With over 21,000 acres of water it is a welcome destination for more than 170,000 annual visitors. Just 47 miles southwest of Casper, Wyoming, Pathfinder Reservoir more than satisfies the outdoor interests of many. The 117 miles of shoreline are open to the public for great boating, fishing, birding, wildlife viewing, hunting and rock climbing. Parts of Pathfinder Reservoir are in the Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge adding an interesting perspective for any visitor. A small historic museum is in the old dam tender's house for added variety.
Pathfinder Reservoir was completed in 1909 as the beginning of water storage management on the North Platte River and was a major engineering feat at the time. It lies between two other, later built reservoirs (Seminoe and Alcova) and below the Platte's junction with the Sweetwater River. Due to the extended drought in the area, the Reservoir level is low, but is available to the outdoors enthusiast. Water from Pathfinder Reservoir supplies the Fremont Canyon Powerplant for the generation of 48 megawatts of power.
Between Seminoe and Pathfinder Reservoirs is the so called 'Miracle Mile', a stretch of the North Platte renowned for its fishing. The reservoir itself is annually stocked with Rainbow and Cutthroat Trout. Fishing is permitted year round except where posted and ice fishing (up to six lines are allowed) is a favorite activity for anglers. Besides Rainbow and Cutthroat, there are Brown Trout, Ohrid Trout and Walleye for a nice variety. Rainbows average 1.4 pounds and Walleye, average 2.1. Cutthroat trout are the second most plentiful trout species.
Camping, hunting, wildlife viewing, and boating are all supported by three campgrounds and three boat launching sites. Wildlife to be seen in the Refuge include mule deer, rabbits, pronghorn antelope and sage grouse. Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge is a feeding and resting area for many wildfowl (ducks, geese and the like) during their annual migratory flights with willets, American coots and Great Blue Herons using the wetland areas.
There are some reasonably challenging rock climbing routes in Fremont Canyon adjacent to Pathfinder Reservoir. These have tie bolts, most without top anchors. For the geocacher, there are at least two caches located nearby.
If you are planning to be around Casper, Pathfinder Reservoir is definitely worth visiting and enjoying more of the Wyoming outdoors.
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