Posted by: greatfallsgirl | May 23, 2011

Ryan Dam

I have many fond memories of picnics at Ryan Dam.  This was a favorite place of my mom’s Aunt Louise (Livix), so she would often take her with us.  What a beautiful place!  There is no other spectacular site I can think of than looking up towards the dam from the island.  You can’t help but think about the challenges Lewis and Clark had when you look at the falls.  I am glad the clubhouse and access to the island continues despite the demise of Montana Power.

It was great crossing the bridge to the island and the picnic area, for it was almost like entering another world.

Ryan Dam, which is part of the Great Falls Portage National Historic Landmark, is located between PPL Montana’s Cochrane and Morony Dams. It is about ten miles downstream from Great Falls, and can be accessed going up Highway 87 and turning off east to the dam. Here is more information about the clubhouse and picnic area at Ryan dam from PPL Montana:

The Ryan Island pavilion

The Ryan Island cookhouse

 picnic area
The picnic area on Ryan Island is a popular spot for families.

Ryan Dam Clubhouse Information

The historic Ryan Dam Clubhouse, at the Great Falls of the Missouri, is an indoor facility just above the Ryan Dam picnic area.

Maintained and owned by PPL Montana, the clubhouse has a kitchen, equipped with two stoves and two refrigerators, a reception hall and restrooms. It’s available for public use and free of charge from Mother’s Day through the last weekend of September.

Reservations must be made by e-mailing Mich Ostertag at  or by calling 406-268-2324. PPL Montana provides cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage cans and garbage bags. All we ask is that guests clean up the area before they leave.

The Ryan Dam picnic area is open to the public Mother’s Day through Labor Day daylight to dark, seven days a week. Reservations are not required to use this facility.

Both the clubhouse, built in 1913 and expanded in the 1930s, and picnic area are handicapped accessible.


Here’s a great video I just found on You Tube, filmed on May 28th, 2011, by “bnjmcleod.”



  1. I used to live at Rainbow Dam, Ryan Dam, and Maroney Dam. My dad worked for the power company and we had the most fun there. I will never forget it. I am sad to hear that the apartment buildings and little homes are all gone now, very very sad. I will never forget those that we met there and lived with. It is only a handful of people that got to experience it. Thanks for the memeories too.

  2. I used to live at Ryan Dam when I was a kid from my birth in 76 till we moved into great falls in 86. My dad jerry worked for Montana power as well…great place to be a kid and I will never forget it…beautiful view of the falls and the mighty Missouri.

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