Museum & Trails

The Pathfinder Dam Interpretive Trail is a 1.7 mile trail up, down, and around Pathfinder Dam.

Walk from the stone house (Damtender's House / Pathfinder Dam Interpretive Center) south along the county road to the spillway area and the dam.

As you walk across the spillway, try to imagine water flowing over it toward the canyon below. The elevated foot-walk provides access to the dam during periods of high water. Walk across the dam. On the north side of the canyon downstream of the dam you can see tunnel outlets for two jet flow gates. Prior to the installation of the elevator on the face of the dam, the concrete ladder-way on the south canyon wall provided access to the canyon floor.


On February 9, 1912, five men fell to their deaths while constructing the ladder-way. The men were working near the top of the canyon wall when the 1 5/8 inch tramway cable anchorage directly above them broke, and in falling, the cable swept them to the bottom. Two of the bodies who had no family in the United States, were buried nearby in a small graveyard, located off the paved road leading to Highway 220, approximately one mile northeast of the dam.

You may wish to visit this graveyard which contains three marked and four unmarked graves. One of the graves belongs to an infant and another to the postmistress at the dam during the construction period.

What to Watch For

As you continue down the trail notice the black stripe of igneous rock intruded into the surrounding granite. Watch for wildlife. You may see golden eagles, hawks, Canadian geese, and many species of smaller birds. If you watch closely you may also see lizards, chipmunks, rodents, and snakes.

Swinging Bridge

The trail continues down towards the river where you will come upon the Swinging Bridge. The bridge was originally built during construction of Pathfinder Dam to provide easy access form the dam site to the engineer's camp which lies ahead. The bridge has been rebuilt several times, most recently in 1995. The trail continues along the river and east to the Engineer's Camp. Look for the stone steps build by the Youth Conservation Corp in the 1980s on the north side of the bridge.

Area Buildings

Foundations in this area show where the engineer's offices and residences were located. The single standing building is believed to have been the jail. The area also provided a Post Office, barn, carriage house, cistern, and pump house.

Trail End

The trail continues uphill and to the west approximately 0.4 miles to the overlook parking area. You may wish to take the 0.2 mile overlook trail to the canyon rim. Follow the road to the end of the trail which ends 0.3 miles west of the overlook parking area, at the Pathfinder Interpretive Center and Museum.