When people come to Northwest Montana for Glacier National Park, they often wind up staying—or coming back—for the Flathead Valley. And the centerpiece of this wide-reaching basin is the aptly named Flathead Lake. As the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, Flathead Lake has a strong presence in the valley, holding fun and outdoor recreation within its shores. When you heed the siren call of this scenic area, you’ll find that there’s plenty to do in the region. Here are just a few of the fun things to enjoy around Flathead Lake this summer.
In the literal meaning of "around" Flathead Lake, take a drive to scope out the entire body of water. Start in Bigfork, and take Highway 35 south to the town of Polson, at the southernmost boundary of the lake. After a pause there to explore, head back up on the west side of the lake via Highway 93. When you see it from all sides, you really appreciate just how big it is.
Flathead Lake State Park has the second-highest visitation in the Montana State Parks system, and for a good reason. This six-unit park is a top choice for visitors, locals, boaters, campers, and other recreationists looking to get out on the water. Check out Big Arm, West Shore, Finley Point, Wayfarers, Yellowbay, and Wild Horse Island (more on that in a minute) to get a full picture of this lakeside park.
With water this big and blue, you have to get out on it and splash around. You can go the DIY route and just rent a boat to explore in for the afternoon, or you can go with a guided trip to learn a little more about the area.
Speaking of guided trips...
This unit of Flathead Lake State Park deserves a special mention. With plenty of hiking and all sorts of wildlife, the island is accessible only by boat. You can go with outfitters like Sea Me Paddle to help you explore this unique place more meaningfully. You may even spot the namesake wild horses or some of the bighorn sheep that call the island home.
Lake fishing is obviously big here on the biggest natural lake in the state. And within minutes of Flathead's shoreline, you can be casting flies on the river as well. In Flathead Lake, you might be hooking lake trout, whitefish, cutthroat, yellow perch, rainbow trout, or bull trout, just to name a few. On the lake, launch your boat or sign up with an outfitter to get you on the water. Then go wading up the Swan River or the Flathead River right outside of Bigfork to see what your cast can land you.
Flathead Lake has two of Montana's 80+ breweries on its shores, with five more within 30 minutes. Tamarack Brewing in Lakeside offers up great brews in a taproom right across the street from the lake. And sitting on the deck at Flathead Lake Brewery in Bigfork while you watch the sun sink below the horizon, sending sparkles across the water, is the perfect way to end a summer day.
As you plan your summer trips, keep us at Highline Adventures in mind. Looking for a place to call home while you're on an adventure? Maybe you are searching for inspiration about what to do. We are here to help. Contact us today to find out more.