Discovery of the Flathead Lake
Flathead Lake was first discovered by David Thompson, who is an explorer. He said it looked like a fine sheet of water.’ It is the largest natural freshwater lake located on the west of Mississippi. Flathead Lake lies at the southern end of a geological feature called the Rocky Mountain Trench. It is 43.9km long and has and width of 24.9km. The pure sparkling waters of the lake and sprawling miles of shoreline with vegetation offer various recreational opportunities and wildlife habitats. The magnificent Swan and Mission mountain ranges stand overlooking Flathead Lake. It has a depth of 113 m and is deeper than the average depths of many water bodies of the world like the Yellow Sea or even the Persian Gulf. It is also considered to be one of the cleanest lakes in the world.
Flathead offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities for visitors to enjoy, including:
- Boating: The lake has numerous boat ramps and marinas, making it easy for visitors to get out on the water for activities such as fishing, water skiing, and sightseeing.
- Fishing: Flathead Lake is home to several species of fish, including lake trout, rainbow trout, and kokanee salmon. It is a popular destination for anglers looking to catch trophy-sized fish.
- Camping: The lake is surrounded by several campgrounds and RV parks, offering a range of camping options for visitors.
- Hiking: The mountains surrounding Flathead Lake offer miles of trails for hiking, including scenic overlooks with views of the lake and the surrounding landscape.
- Swimming: With its clear waters, Flathead Lake is a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and other beach activities.
- Wildlife viewing: The area around Flathead Lake is home to a variety of wildlife, including moose, black bears, and bald eagles, making it a popular destination for wildlife viewing and photography.
10 Nearby attractions
Glacier National Park:
Located just to the northeast of Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park is a scenic wilderness area known for its glaciers, alpine meadows, and diverse wildlife. The park features over 700 miles of trails, including the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Whitefish Mountain Resort:
This popular ski resort is located just outside the town of Whitefish, Montana, and offers a variety of winter sports activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. During the summer, visitors can enjoy scenic chairlift rides, mountain biking, and hiking.
The Flathead Valley:
The valley surrounding The Lake is home to several charming towns and communities, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor recreation. Visitors can explore the region’s many vineyards, orchards, and local farmers’ markets, or take a scenic drive through the valley’s rolling hills and stunning mountain scenery.
Bob Marshall Wilderness:
This vast wilderness area is located just to the south of Flathead Lake and is home to some of the wildest and most remote terrain in the lower 48 states. Visitors can enjoy backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting in this rugged and pristine landscape.
Wild Horse Island State Park:
This remote state park is located on an island in the middle of Flathead Lake and is accessible only by boat. The park is a sanctuary for a herd of wild horses and is a popular destination for hiking, wildlife viewing, and fishing.
This charming city is located just to the south of The Lake and is the largest city in the Flathead Valley. Kalispell offers a range of cultural and historic attractions, including the Conrad Mansion Museum, the Hockaday Museum of Art, and the Flathead County Fairgrounds. Visitors can also enjoy shopping, dining, and outdoor recreation in and around the city.
This picturesque town is located on the northeastern shore of Flathead Lake and is known for its artistic and cultural heritage. Bigfork is home to several theaters, art galleries, and performance venues, as well as a thriving arts community. Visitors can also enjoy a range of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking.
Flathead Lake Biological Station:
This research facility is located on the southern shore of Flathead Lake and is dedicated to the study of the lake’s ecology and biology. Visitors can take guided tours of the facility and learn about the lake’s unique ecosystem and the ongoing research being conducted to preserve it.
Wild and Scenic Film Festival:
This annual film festival is held in the Flathead Valley and showcases a range of documentaries and short films that celebrate the beauty and diversity of the natural world. The festival draws filmmakers, conservationists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the world.
The Flathead River is a major tributary of the Columbia River and is one of the most popular destinations for rafting, kayaking, and fishing in Montana. The river offers a range of recreational opportunities, including scenic floats, challenging whitewater, and world-class fishing for rainbow and bull trout.
How to reach
Flathead Lake is located in northwest Montana and can be reached by several modes of transportation:
- By air: The nearest major airport is Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), located in Kalispell, Montana, about 30 miles from Flathead Lake. The airport is served by several major airlines and offers daily flights from cities throughout the United States.
- By car: Flathead Lake can be reached by car via several major highways, including US Highway 93 and Montana Highway 35. Visitors driving from cities like Seattle, Washington, and Calgary, Alberta can reach Flathead Lake in about six to eight hours.
- By bus: served by several regional bus lines, including the Mountain Line transit system, which offers regular bus service between Kalispell, Whitefish, and other cities in the valley.
- By train: The Amtrak Empire Builder train provides daily service to nearby Whitefish, Montana, where visitors can connect with local transportation to reach Flathead Lake.
- By boat: Visitors can also reach Flathead Lake by boat via its many marinas and boat ramps, or by taking a scenic boat tour of the lake.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Flathead Lake depends on your interests and the type of activities you plan to do. Here are some general guidelines:
- Summer: June to September is the best time to visit The Lake for outdoor activities like boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. During this time, the weather is warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-80s.
- Winter: December to February is the best time to visit Lake for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. During this time, the area receives ample snowfall, creating ideal conditions for winter sports enthusiasts.
- Spring and Fall: March to May and September to November are the best times to visit Flathead Lake for scenic drives and wildlife viewing. During these months, the weather is mild and the colors of the surrounding landscape are at their most vibrant.
Regardless of when you visit, be sure to pack appropriate clothing and gear for the weather, as the temperatures and conditions in the Flathead Valley can change quickly and dramatically.
What is Flathead Lake?
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake by surface area in the western United States, located in northwest Montana. It is surrounded by the picturesque Flathead Valley and offers a range of recreational activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, and camping.
What kind of fish can be found in Flathead Lake?
The Lake is home to several species of fish, including rainbow trout, lake trout, bull trout, kokanee salmon, and mountain whitefish. The lake is considered one of the best fishing destinations in Montana and attracts anglers from around the world.
What kind of outdoor activities can be done at Flathead Lake?
The Lake offers a range of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. Visitors can also enjoy water sports like swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding, as well as winter sports like skiing and snowboarding.
What is the best time to visit Flathead Lake?
The best time to visit The Lake depends on your interests and the type of activities you plan to do. Summer is the best time for outdoor activities like boating and fishing, while winter is best for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. Spring and fall are best for scenic drives and wildlife viewing.
How can I reach Flathead Lake?
Flathead Lake can be reached by air, car, bus, train, or boat. The nearest major airport is Glacier Park International Airport, located in Kalispell, Montana. Visitors can also drive to the lake via US Highway 93 and Montana Highway 35, take a regional bus or the Amtrak train to Whitefish, or reach the lake by boat via its marinas and boat ramps.