Madison River’s icy rise prompts Ennis fishing access closure
It doesn’t happen every winter, but the not-so-unusual, yet always awe-inspiring gorge of the Madison River was underway as of Friday, Dec. 31. The rise in ice and water led to temporary closures of the Ennis and Valley Garden fishing access sites, still in place as of Jan. 4.
Gorging is caused when extremely cold temps freeze the water into ice that clumps together on the bottom of the river. The uniquely swift and shallow nature of the Madison River, under freezing conditions, creates large chunks of glacial looking ice that become jammed in shallow areas.
This ice jam blocks the river and forces the flow of water and ice upwards, beyond the banks of the Madison into the floodplain where more ice forms. It can even rise to flow over the Highway 287 bridge at times.
This phenomena is not unique to the Madison, but the shallow, swift nature of the river makes for an impressively large amount of ice buildup.