KPAX Country: Seeley Lake making a comeback after devastating fire season

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-29 19:26:14-04

SEELEY LAKE – Almost a year ago, Seeley Lake took a big hit when the Rice Ridge Fire tore through this area and drove away most of the tourists that the town’s economy relies on.

But they’re making a comeback.

“It always really surprises me how resilient as a community Seeley Lake is," said Tamaracks Resort owner Jessica Kimmel. "The fires last year were devastating, everybody knows. It slowed down our tourism quite a bit.”

Winter snow cooled off the fires and brought some economic relief as well. Snow sports enthusiasts came in droves.

One benefit of a burned landscape appeared months later as morel mushroom pickers did not miss out the fruits of the Rice Ridge Fire burn area.

“They only come with the fire, so once every ten, twelve years? If we’re lucky," Kimmel said.

This summer, the town is continuing on an upward climb. A steady seasonal crowd has been on the lake and spending time in the backcountry, and there are chamber of commerce projects in the works to keep people coming year-round.

“We want to have a second high season. We want people to come to really utilize that winter, come up for our Winterfest, our snow sculptures, our pond hockey. Tamarack Festival will be happening in the fall.”

Seeley is doing away with off seasons and looking to pick up more consistent traffic. The devastation from last year’s fires is sparking a new resolve to bring out the best of Seeley Lake. 

Seeley Lake Fourth of July Celebrations

  • 7 a.m.: Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church Women’s Group Bake Sale: Proceeds support mission projects. Cory’s Valley Market until sold out.
  • 7–11:30 a.m.: Annual Pancake Breakfast: Come meet the volunteer firefighters and Quick Response Unit. $7/adult; $3/child; 5 and under free. Don’t forget to purchase your tickets for our 30-60 rifle! They will be available at the breakfast or can be purchased at the station during regular hours Monday-Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. 20 foot Smokey Bear Balloon. T-shirts and Cookbooks for sale. DNRC will be available. Seeley Lake Fire Department Station 1- 200 Firehouse Lane.
  • 12 p.m.: Pig Roast BBQ: Mission Bible Fellowship – FREE! Everyone is welcome! Kid’s booth with activities & prizes.
  • 1 p.m.: Seeley Lake Parade Line-up/registration: B Street. Registration form available on page 7 in the paper, register online at under Events or the day of at the registration table.
  • 1:45 p.m.: C-130 Flyover downtown Seeley Lake. A BIG THANKS to our veterans and the 120th Air Wing, Great Falls – Air Force, for the support and service to our country!
  • 2 p.m.: Parade through downtown Seeley Lake: Theme “Celebrate Freedom” – Grand Marshal Veterans & Families of Seeley Lake – National Anthem Singer Ruthie Hockenberry

**Stop in front of the Announcer during the Parade so your information about your entry can be read.**

  • Following the Parade: Dunk Tank: Lindey’s Steak House. $5 for 3 shots. All proceeds benefit the Seeley Lake Chamber.
  • 4:30 p.m.: Rubber Duck Race: Clearwater River Bridge – Wagon Wheel Way (Hwy. 83 south, mile marker 13). Ducks available to purchase at the Seeley Lake Chicken Coop ($5/ each or 5 for $20) or during the parade. Sponsored by the Seeley Lake Youth Activities & the Seeley Lake Chicken Coop
  • 10:30 p.m.: Fireworks Display over Seeley Lake – Viewing from the green at Lindey’s Prime Steak House