To provide power for the new development in the valley , a concrete dam was constructed across the south fork of the Eel River in 1928. The dam not only provided power but also created Benbow Lake.
The Benbow family, interested in preserving the natural scene around the Hotel and along the river, made efforts to place the land under State protection. In 1956 funds were approved for the Benbow Project was purchased in 1958.
Today the park consists of campsites and a large day-use picnic area. Hiking, picnicking and camping are popular summer time activities, while salmon and steelhead fishing are popular in the winter.