Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake in the west and a spectacular backdrop for countless recreational opportunities. Its stunning beauty and breathtaking views from the water make it a popular destination for boating, camping, fishing and kayaking. It is also home to a variety of wildlife, including the magnificent grizzly bear. The lake offers a variety of public access sites with swimming, picnicking, boating and camping amenities. These include Elmo, Big Arm, Finley Point, Walstad Memorial Park and Yellow Bay, among others.
To get a true sense of the lake and its surroundings, many visitors choose to take scenic Flathead Lake tours. These are offered by a number of tour companies and range from short boating trips to multi-day expeditions. Many of these tours offer the opportunity to view glaciers and mountain ranges on the lake’s shores. Some of the tours include lunch or dinner on board, and well-behaved dogs are welcome.
The tours are offered by several companies located in the Kalispell and Whitefish areas. A few of them will take you out to Wild Horse Island where you can hike, swim and picnic. These are very popular and require advance booking. The tours are led by a certified interpretive guide who is experienced in the geology and history of the area. They can also give you tips on other activities on the shores and islands of Flathead Lake.
Another option for exploring the area is to rent a canoe or kayak from one of the numerous rental places in the area. This is a great option for the adventurous visitor who wishes to travel further down the lake to remote areas where they can experience nature in a different way. It is wise to pack a waterproof map and a cell phone in case of emergencies.
For a more secluded way to explore the Flathead Lake, you can camp at one of the six state parks located along the shores. These campgrounds have amenities such as fire pits, toilets and showers, and are surrounded by lush forests and meadows. They are also close to boating and hiking trails.
There are also a number of private campgrounds around the shores of Flathead Lake, and these are generally less crowded. These are usually smaller and have fewer amenities, but the privacy and quiet that these offer can be very appealing to some people.
A number of museums chronicle the culture and history of the area, which is made up of a confederation of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai tribes. The People’s Center on the Flathead Indian Reservation (Sqelixw-AqlSmaknik) is a great place to learn about the tribes and their history in Montana. It also has a gift shop and a restaurant. Other museums include the Flathead Valley Museum and the Polson Museum of Art. The latter is the home of a permanent collection of works by Montana’s native artists. It is open year-round. Visitors can also take a guided walk around the museum and enjoy the beautiful grounds. boat tours flathead lake