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Continuing in our series of the best US state parks to explore, we researched another Montana gem to bring you a thorough concise guide to Flathead Lake State Park.
Where Is Flathead Lake State Park?
Flathead State Park is located just west of Flathead Lake near Big Arm, Montana. Flathead Lake is situated in the northwestern part of the state. Amazingly, the Flathead Lake State Park system encompasses 6 different park units around the lake. No matter which part of the Lake you visit, you’re sure to enjoy what it has to offer.
How To Get To Flathead Lake State Park
If you plan on driving, Flathead Lake State Park can be accessed via road 28 through Niarada or via highway 93 through Big Arm.
If you plan on flying into the area, you can fly into Glacier Park International Airport which is just north of Flathead Lake.
How Far Is Flathead Lake State Park From Missoula?
Flathead Lake State Park is approximately 83 miles from Missoula, Montana via the most direct route. Depending on the route taken, however, the two locations are up to 106 miles apart.
What Is There To Do In Flathead Lake State Park?
There is a lot to do in Flathead Lake State Park, but for our purposes, we’ll focus on some of the most popular activities.
1. Go Fishing
As the park’s name suggests, the lake is the central attraction, and for good reason; the fishing in Flathead Lake is superb. And in a lake that’s 28 miles long and 15 miles wide, you’re sure to find some excellent fishing spots. However, you will need a joint state/tribal fishing license to fish in the lake.
The primary fish species in this lake include lake trout, pike, yellow perch, and whitefish. There are also a smaller number of rainbow trout, bass, kokanee salmon, and bull trout.
Take advantage of your time in Flathead Lake State Park by camping. There are a total of 41 campsites spread across the park’s 217 acres. It’s worth noting that campers are only permitted to stay on site for 14 days in a given 30 day period.
There are plenty of camping options in this state park. Whether you have an RV, trailer, tent, or are renting a cabin, yurt, or teepee, you’ll have an amazing time.
3. Go To Wild Horse Island
Wild Horse Island is a 2,163-acre island located on the lake’s west side. The island is home to bald eagles, bighorn sheep, yellow-pine chipmunks, and wild horses. Big Arm is a popular jumping-off point to the island which can only be accessed by boat.
4. Go Boating
Since Flathead Lake is such a large lake, you’ll surely want to explore it. One of the best ways to do that is by boat. There are many boat rental locations around the lake, so find the one that offers what you’re looking for. Options include pontoon boats, ski boats, jet skis, and paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes.
Hiking In Flathead Lake State Park
If you’re a hiker, you’re in luck! Flathead Lake State Park has plenty of hiking opportunities for nature lovers.
Bluebird Boulevard Trail is broken into several sections, but the entire trail is 1.3 miles long.
Juniper Jaunt Trail is broken into two sections, but the entire trail is 0.55 miles long.
Flathead Lake Trail is 0.4 miles long but will take about an hour to complete. The trail is downhill and creates a loop.
When Is The Best Time To Visit The Park?
The best time to visit Flathead Lake State Park is in the spring and summer, as the park’s attractions and amenities are primarily geared toward outdoor summer activities. However, you’ll see some gorgeous fall foliage if you visit the state in the autumn months.
With how breathtaking the region is, you really can’t pick a bad time to visit. It all depends on the types of activities you wish to do.
What Time Does The Park Open?
According to Flathead Lake State Park’s Facebook page, the park is always open; it does not have operating hours per se. However, some of the sites within the park are only open during different parts of the year.
According to the park’s website, the park’s day use area is open year-round, the campground is open from May through October, water is available from mid-May through mid-September, and the dock is available from mid-March through November.
It’s possible that a special restriction or closure might alter the availability of the park’s attractions and amenities. Alerts for these restrictions can be accessed here.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Into The Park?
Montana residents enjoy free admission into the park. Nonresidents must pay $8 for admission if they come with a vehicle or $4 if they come on foot or on a bike.
Out of state visitors can buy a special 12-month pass for $50 that allows free entry and discounted camping fees. If you’re interested in this pass, it can be purchased here.
If you still have some additional questions about visiting Flathead Lake State Park, don’t worry. Just keep reading, and we’ll answer more questions below.
Where Can You Swim In Flathead Lake?
There is a designated swimming area at the southern end of the park. The water in the lake is clean and clear, so it’s perfect for swimming.
How Cold Is The Water In Flathead Lake?
During the summer months, the water in the lake gets to around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During winter months, the average water temperature is around 36 degrees. Summertime is definitely the only time you’d want to hop into the water.
Does Flathead Lake Freeze In The Winter?
The majority of Montana’s lakes freeze over in the winter, but Flathead lake rarely does. As a matter of fact, Flathead Lake only freezes over every ten winters or so.
How Many State Parks Does Montana Have?
Montana has a whopping 55 state parks. In case you haven’t noticed, Montana is home to a plethora of natural wonders. If you’re looking to have an unforgettable vacation adventure, Montana is the place to go. You’ll encounter some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures.
Where To Stay When Visiting The Park
Now that you’re dreaming of all the adventures that Flathead Lake State Park has to offer, you’re probably wondering where to stay. Check out these amazing options below to get started with planning your trip.
1. State Park Camping
A great way to really immerse yourself in the surrounding land is by staying directly in the park. There are tent sites, RV sites, trailer sites, and cabins available for reservations. Breathe in the fresh air and enjoy your stay.
2. Flathead Lake Log Cabin
Enjoy life in the woods when you stay in this cozy log cabin nestled right in the woods. This perfect log cabin even has lake access on the eastern lakeshore of Flathead Lake. You’ll never want to leave once you experience the beauty of this area.
3. Red Lion Ridgewater Inn & Suites
Red Lion is located in Polson, Montana, just a few miles outside of Flathead Lake State Park. This convenient location will accommodate all of your adventures in the region. The hotel atmosphere is relaxing and inviting, helping you feel energized for your next adventures.
We hope you have an incredible trip to Flathead Lake State Park! Before you go, make sure to check out these other amazing Montana travel guides:
And as always, if you’ve been to Flathead Lake and can contribute more tips, please do leave me a comment. There’s nothing quite like a local’s point of view! Thank you!