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Saint Mary Lake

15 Lakes In Montana That You Cannot Afford Missing (2024)

Montana is a wildly beautiful state. This American tourist destination is home to more than3,223 known lakes and reservoirs while several unknowns as well. No doubt the rich water bodies are one of the biggest tourisms draw in Montana. Lakes and Reservoirs in Montana are spread nicely across all direction. You can be at the centre of the state or close to its neighbouring Canada, there are always enough options available.

Montana Lakes invite and entertain nearly 3 million travellers every year. Some choose water recreation as their mode of enjoyment while other prefer soaking into the panoramic beauty. Though regardless of their interest visitors of all kind find solace around lakes in Montana. Hence if you too want to enjoy in the splendid water bodies of the Big Sky State, go through our list below. Have a look:

15 Lakes In Montana That You Cannot Afford Missing

1. The Flathead Lake

The Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake on the west of the Mississippi river. It is also one of the clearest lakes in the United States and travellers often describe it as a fine sheet of water. One can access the Flathead Lake from two scenic highways skirts, the Highway 35 and Highway 93. Enthusiasts often visit here for either soaking into the scenic beauty or for enjoying the unlimited recreational opportunities. Some popular activities here include swimming, water skiing, sailing, fishing, and picnicking. Or along with the scenic shoreline of the lake, there are numerous camping grounds, motel and cabins as well.

2. The Lake McDonald

The largest and deepest lake in Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald is divine in all terms. It is spread over 2,761 hectares, at an elevation of 961 meters above sea level on the west end of the park. On the east side of the lake spreads the scenic Going-to-the-Sun Road, the most popular route in Montana. The biggest draw of Lake McDonald is the magnificent scenery of green woodland and huge Rocky Mountains. For recreation visitors can choose from boating and fishing, the only activities allowed here. Though close to the lake, visitors can go for hiking, nature photography, camping or for enjoying at the beach.

Lake McDonald

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3. The Swan Lake

A popular Montana Lake, the Swan Lake is located east of Big Fork and Flathead Lake within the Seeley-Swan Valley. This lake is quite popular for fishing and anglers truly have their time of the day here. The lake is full with trout, salmon, northern pike and other surprises as well. Besides fishing, Swan Lake is also a popular spot for swimming, boating, canoeing, kayaking, and water skiing. Or for visitors who prefer staying on land, there are numerous hiking, biking, wildlife viewing and berry picking opportunities as well. Or there are lakeside cabinsand campgrounds for visitors who want to stay here overnight.

4. The Saint Mary Lake

Glacier National Park’s second largest and the most beautiful lake in Montana, Saint Mary Lake is a place you cannot afford to miss. It positions at the base of dramatic mountain peaks with forests surrounding gives it a view different from others. For travellers who are seeking wildlife and wild views this lake is no less than a paradise. From black or grey bears to elk, deer and other harmless wildlife is often spotted around the lake. During summers, travellers can also go for guided boat cruises, an appealing activity here. Summers also add wildflower bloom to the lake surrounding, taking its beauty to a notch higher.

5. The Earthquake Lake or the Quake Lake

True to its name, the Quake Lake is a stunning water body formed in 1959 by an earthquake incident. What surrounds the lake are numerous mountain peaks, lush pine trees, and thriving wildlife. For fun and recreational opportunities visitors can choose from hiking, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, fishing, and birdwatching. However due to Quake’s seismic creation and death of nearly 30 individuals, people still fear stepping down into the water. For a safer day, visitors either prefer observing the beauty from land or explore the forested land nearby. Fishing on the shore too is labelled as safe and fun opportunity here.

6. The Avalanche Lake

From its formation to its water resource even today, Avalanche Lake is a child water body of Sperry Glacier. Reaching the lake is only possible by hiking along the Trail of the Cedars. Both Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake Trail encompasses over 3 miles. The entire hike is full of natural beauty, views, a waterfall with sun and shade around. Avalanche Lake is also a popular spot for swimming, all thanks to its clear water. What makes this water body apart from other Montana lakes is its secluded setting and unexploited surroundings. For enthusiast who love finding the secret of nature, this is definitely a must-visit place for them.

7. The Canyon Ferry Lake

The third largest lake in the state, the Canyon Ferry Lake is something you cannot afford missing when in Montana. This popular recreational destination is spread over 35,000-square acres with a 122-kilometre sandy shoreline. The proximity of Canyon Ferry Lake to the state capital of Helena also makes it one of the most-visited lake in Montana. Some of the common recreational activities here include swimming, boating, hiking, beaching, tenting, camping, RVing and picnicking. Though the activities that takes the top seat here are fishing and ice boat racing. These are what keep attracting enthusiasts, professionals and travellers all year round.

8. The Echo Lake

The Echo Lake is a small but breathtakingly gorgeous lake located in the Flathead Valley, Montana. It is surrounded by a mountain runoff and filled with ground water. The gorgeous blue and warm water of this lake makes it a popular spot for swimming and other water recreational activities. Though despite the availability of water sports and adventure here, Eco Lake still feels calm on most of its parts. And on days with less kayakers and boater, the lake feels exceptionally peaceful, which definitely is a draw as well. Also, the setting of Mountain range and Deer Island here makes for excellent sunrise and sunset spots.

9. The Lake Elmo

One of the most popular water bodies in Montana, Lake Elmo is a 64-acre reservoir located within Billings. What surrounds the lake is a same name State Park, an attraction on its own. The lake is popular for canoeing, kayaking, and swimming while motorized boats aren’t allowed to access the waters. Visitors who are into fishing (both summer and ice water) can access Elmo via Roger’s Pier throughout the year. However, what adds uniqueness to the lake is the 200 square foot fenced dog park where visitors can relax down their dog.

10. The Iceberg Lake

Sitting at an elevation of 1,857 metres, the Iceberg Lake is undoubtedly the most mesmerising lake in Montana. It is located inside the Glacier National Park and the entire lake is surrounded by rocky cliffs. Due to the high towering cliffs, Iceberg Lake gets very little sunlight which often results in snow build up in the lake as well as the cliff walls. For accessing the lake, visitors require to hike the 9.6 miles long Iceberg Lake Trailhead. The trail begins from the Swiftcurrent Auto Camp Historic District (within the National Park) and is quiet well maintained. Only if you are ready to lose some calories and show your physical strength, this trail is the right hiking choice for you.

11. The Fort Peck Lake

A major reservoir in Montana, the Fort Peck Lake is definitely a must visit for lake and water body enthusiasts. With a surface area of 99,000 hectare, it is the fifth largest artificial lake in the United States. The entire lake is surrounded by Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge that also makes it a natural paradise. Apart from enjoying the sceneries of nature, visitors can also spot bighorn sheep, coyotes, white-tailed deer, endangered black-footed ferret, pallid sturgeon and other common and endangered wildlife. The surrounding region is also popular for hiking, picnicking and camping amongst tourists.

12. The Lake Koocanusa

Lake Koocanusa is a shared water body between British Columbia (Canada) and Montana. While slightly more than half part of it is within Montana, the rest part is within Canada. In Montana, the lake is accessible either by hiking along the Pacific Northwest Trail or from the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway. Being a prime recreational destination, the Lake Koocanusa is popular for swimming, boating, picnicking, camping and fishing. The lake is also surrounded by the National Forest which also makes it a rich wildlife viewing region. For someone who want to escape into nature afar from the crowd, Lake Koocanusa is the destination for them.

13. The Hebgen Lake

The Hebgen Lake is located on the southwest Montana close to the west section of Yellowstone National Park. It is basically a human made lake and an outdoor playground for water sports enthusiast. Visitors often choose this destination for water skiing, swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, and stand-up paddle boating. Though above all of these, fishing is still the premier activity here. Anglers from across the state visit Hebgen Lake both summers and winters. Along with the 65.2 miles long shore, there are two huge campsites and several camping spaces. One can either choose tenting or rent cabins depending upon their preference.

14. The Swiftcurrent Lake

Nestled between the giant snow-capped peaks, Swiftcurrent Lake is known for its clean and reflective waters. On a sunny day upon standing on one end of the lake you can literally observe the reflection of Rocky Mountains, blue sky and surrounding Greenland. Apart from the divine beauty, the lake is also operational for kayaking, canoeing and other water-based fun. Visitors though try their fishing skills here but it isn’t as great spot as other lakes of Montana, especially for angling. Some other features of the lake include the Swiftcurrent Lake Nature Trail loopand the Grinnell Glacier Trailhead. If you happen to be a nature’s enthusiast, you are going to love every single aspect around.

15. The Georgetown Lake

The Georgetown Lake isn’t just beautiful but also one of the prime fishing lakes in Montana. Its population of trophy sized rainbow, brook trout and kokanee salmon also give makes it known as the Fishing Lake. As per the facts, it is the most prolific lake where anglers catch more fishes than anywhere else in the world. And not only during summers but even winters open up ice fishing opportunities for the excited ones. However, if you aren’t into water-based fun you can still visit here for absorbing into the natural scenery around. Or access one of the campgrounds and rest across the Georgetown Lake’s shoreline overnight.

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