Clearwater Chain of Lakes Montana Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Clearwater Chain of Lakes

Tow your boat to Clearwater Chain of Lakes and enjoy a wide range of activities including water-skiing, fishing, and swimming as well as recreation in Lolo National Forest and surrounding wilderness areas. Read More

  • From Missoula, travel east on I-90 and MT-200 and north on MT-83. 
  • Six of the larger lakes within the Clearwater River Valley are located off MT-83. 
  • Fish for trout, perch, northern pike, bass and kokanee. 
  • Water-ski, swim and motor on Seeley Lake, Salmon Lake and more. 
  • Stay in one of many designated campgrounds. 


Clearwater Chain of Lakes is comprised of over two dozen lakes within the Clearwater River Valley. Included within the chain are the following sizeable tributaries of the Clearwater River: Rainy Lake, Lake Alva, Lake Inez, Seeley Lake, Placid Lake, and Salmon Lake. These six lakes are accessible from MT-83 and feature well-developed campgrounds, excellent fishing, and plenty of water activities including jet-skiing, water-skiing, and swimming.

Location and Information

The Clearwater River flows south from the Swan Range through the chain of lakes in the Clearwater River Valley to the confluence of the Blackfoot River. The following highlighted lakes are located within or near the Seeley Lake Ranger District of Lolo National Forest.

To reach the Clearwater Chain of Lakes from Missoula, drive east on I-90 before taking exit 109 for MT-200 E towards Bonner/Great Falls. Continue straight on MT-200 E for 32 miles then turn left onto MT-83 N.

For more information, contact:
Seeley Lake Ranger District Ph: (406) 677 - 2233
Fishing Information:


With more than two dozen lakes linked in the chain, boaters have plenty of water to explore. Water-skiing, jet-skiing and motor-boating are popular on the larger bodies including Seeley Lake, Lake Alva, and Salmon Lake. Placid Lake is a great location for sailing and Rainy Lake is a quieter spot for non-motorized vessels such as canoes and kayaks. Most locations feature a boat launch.

The chain of lakes is a great place to take a refreshing dip during the dog days of summer. Some locations feature designated swimming areas.

Fish species within the Clearwater River system include native west slope cutthroat trout and kokanee. Rainbows, browns, northern pike, perch and other fishable species are also found in the river’s drainages. Pull a large northern pike out of Salmon Lake or Lake Inez, or fish Placid Lake for native trout, kokanee and bass. Seeley Lake supports a variety of trout and other species and is a popular fishery within the chain. Be sure to check with MT Fish Wildlife and Parks for licensing information.

Several well-maintained and developed campgrounds are located on and around the Clearwater Chain of Lakes, including group sites, sites with hook-ups, and backcountry locations. If you love being right on the water, try the Seeley Lake, Lake Inez, or Lake Alva Campgrounds. Average campground fees range from free to $10 per night and most are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Fun Fact

The Clearwater River Valley is great place to see migratory birds. Ornithologists are encouraged to check out the Clearwater River Canoe Trail and the Seeley Lake Wildlife Viewing Blind.