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Northwest Montana Travel Region
Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Lying in the Flathead Valley of Northwest Montana, the lake is more then 300 feet deep and extends north and south some 28 miles and is seven to 15 miles wide.

Flathead Lake Looking toward the Big Arm of Flathead Lake and Wild Horse Island from state highway 28. The town of Elmo and US Highway 93 is seen along the western (left) shoreline. In the background beyond Wild Horse Island are the Swan and Mission Mountains rising to elevations of 6,500 feet and more.

As you drive and drive on the roads that hug Flathead Lake's shoreline, (US Highway 93 on the west and Montana Route 35 on the east) it's hard to believe manmade dams that are so common in the Pacific Northwest didn't create it. Rather, the lake is a fortuitous product of the activity of ice-age glaciers, and is fed by the Swan and Flathead Rivers.

All manner of water sports are enjoyed upon its 200 square miles of surface. Several state parks and lakeshore communities have boat launches and marinas on the Lake.

You can avail yourself of a boat tour or rent one of the many types of watercraft including canoes, kayaks, windsurfers, hydro bikes, sailing and fishing boats. Serious anglers can arm themselves with heavy-duty equipment and probe the 300-foot deep Flathead Lake for trophy Mackinaw. Lake trout, salmon, perch, pike, bass, and whitefish are found in the Flathead area's many lakes.

Locals know summer has arrived when a steady stream of traffic starts to build on the secondary roads. So in peak season expect to share your enjoyment of the Flathead Valley with many others, although the mountains still offer room to get-away if you are willing to exert yourself.

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