Tucked between the majestic mountains of western Montana, especially near Missoula, you will find a number of pristine lakes and reservoirs that are perfect for a day of boating and skiing.
- Rentals are available at Flathead Lake, Seeley Lake and around Missoula.
- Holland Lake is beautiful and off the beaten path.
- Georgetown Lake is a water sport hot spot.
- Don't have a boat, no problem, you can rent one.
- Placid lake is tranquil and close to Missoula.
The west isn't just home to big mountains and hiking, it also offers fantastic lakes for boating. The scenery couldn't be better, with lakes tucked between mountain ranges and shorelines covered in thick stands of conifers.
Summer time is boating time and the glacier carved area around Missoula is dotted with lakes, perfect for a day of boating.
Where to go boating around Missoula
You'll find plenty of boating options around the Missoula area. If you don't have your own boat, don't fret, many of the lakes are surrounded by businesses who would be happy to rent you a boat.
Most state parks are open for boating from May 1st to Nov. 30th. The directions given all use Missoula as a starting point.
You can boat your heart out at Flathead Lake. Multiple boat launches, docks, fueling points, and over 200 square miles of water will leave you spinning with options. Don't have your own boat, there are a ton of rental options in the area. Take I-90 west to Hwy 93 north.
Water skiing is popular at this scenic lake. Flanked by the Swan and Mission Mountains you are guaranteed an amazing few in all directions. This is a well established lake for boating with launch ramps and facilities. Rentals available. Take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east and then head north on Hwy 83.
Located on the same Clearwater River chain of lakes as Seeley and Salmon, Placid Lake is just as picturesque but a bit smaller and more tucked away. The site was recently renovated to include a 16 slot dock and a double ramp. Very busy on weekends. No rentals available. Take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east and then head north on Hwy 83, then take County Road 69 for three miles.
Ponderosa pine and western larch forests line the bank of Salmon Lake. Close to Missoula and easy to access. There is a nice, long shoreline where you can easy ground your boat. Take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east and then head north on Hwy 83, on the left.
This smaller lake along the beautiful Clearwater River chain of lakes is great for water-skiing and boating. Rentals found in Seeley. Follow the directions to Seeley Lake and continue on Hwy 83 for nine miles.
Continuing up the chain is Lake Alva, with shores covered in thick spruce. This beautiful spot offers a boat launch for easing access to boating. Rentals found in Seeley. Eleven miles north of Seeley Lake, then take FR 1098 to the campground to find the boat launch.
Holland Lake is a bit further from Missoula, with an hour and a half drive time. Mountains in the distance and tree lined shores give this long, somewhat narrow lake a calming effect. There is a boat launch. Take I-90 east to Hwy 200 east and then head north on Hwy 83, take a right on Holland Lake Rd.
Now, this is a boater's paradise. The big water is perfect for water-skiing and tubing. There are four free boat launches, a marina, and places to rent a boat. Take I-90 east to ext 153 (MT-1) toward Drummond/Philipsburg. Continue 37 miles and take a right on Georgetown Lake Road.
Painted Rocks Reservoir
The 'painted' rocks greet you as the Bitterroot Mountains tower overhead. The water level here can be a bit troublesome, dropping to low for boating, especially after August 1st. There is a boat ramp and a dock, no rentals. Take Hwy 93 south, past Hamilton and head southwest on Route 473 (West Fork Road).
This lake/reservoir is a popular spot for boating, water-skiing, and jet skiing during the short time span when the water level is high enough. Visit anytime between mid-July and mid-August and you're okay, after that, no guarantee the water will be high enough. There is a boat launch and a dock, no rentals. Take Hwy 93 south, past Hamilton, head west on Lake Como Road, follow the signs.
Rentals and Fees
Driving out west can be stressful if you aren't used to the curvy mountain roads, worse if you are towing a boat. No problem, there are tons of outfitters just waiting to rent you the perfect boat for a day on the water. The options vary so check out a few retailers to make sure you get the best boat for you.
Rentals will vary in price according to the type of boat you wish to rent.
- Hells Canyon Boat Tour
Scenic tours of the Snake River in Hells Canyon.