Flathead Lake Montana Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Flathead Lake

After you explore Missoula, head north on US-93 until you reach Flathead Lake and enjoy water-based activities including boating, fishing, sailing and swimming as well as recreation in parks and national forests.

  • Located two hours north of Missoula, between US-93 (western shore) and US-35 (eastern shore). 
  • Play in Flathead Lake State Park’s six units. 
  • Fish, swim, sail, motor and paddle within 185-miles of shoreline. 
  • Spot wildlife on Wild Horse Island. 
  • Flathead Lake is surrounded by state and national parks, national forests and wilderness areas. 


The vast expanse of Flathead Lake is located in northwest Montana, surrounded by some of the most spectacular alpine scenery found anywhere. Water-based activities abound and include fishing, sailing, swimming, and boating. The lake is encompassed by the six units of Flathead Lake State Park: Yellow Bay, Finley Point, Big Arm, Wayfarers, West Shore, and Wild Horse Island.

The lake also lies in the shadow of Glacier National Park, located to its north, and Lolo and Flathead National Forests to its west and east. Between the state park units, and the national park and forests, great recreational opportunities are easy to find.

Location and Information

Flathead Lake is located southwest of Glacier National Park, in between the towns of Kalispell and Polson.

To reach Flathead Lake from Missoula, drive north on US-93 until you reach to town of Polson. Here, you can travel the west shore of via US-93 N or the east shore via US-35 N.

For more information on Flathead Lake, contact MT Fish Wildlife and Parks:
Ph: (406)-752-5501
Website: http://fwp.mt.gov/  

Flathead Lake State Park fees are $5/vehicle per day for non-residents or $25/vehicle for an annual pass. Montana residents may enter the park for free. (Camping, tour, and special event fees apply.)


There’s plenty of room to spread out and enjoy all kinds of boating on Flathead Lake including motoring, sailing, and paddling. Boat slips are available for rent at the 16-slip marina within the Finley Unit so cruise here for an overnight water-camping experience. Boat launches are located in all units.

Soak up the summer rays on the shores of Flathead Lake and then take a refreshing dip. Swimming is open in all state park units but the Big Arm Unit is especially popular for swimmers and sunbathers.

Pull up a large rainbow, cutthroat, lake trout or whitefish from the lake’s cold and deep waters. Yellow Bay Unit is popular with anglers and the West Shore Unit is known for its excellent lake trout fishing. Check with MT Fish Wildlife and Parks for licensing information.

Enjoy RV sites and hook-ups in the Finley Point Unit campground. Meanwhile, Wayfarers and West Shore Unit campgrounds are great base locations for hiking enthusiasts.

Pack your camera for photo opportunities as you take to the trails surrounding Flathead Lake. Stroll through wooded sections of Wayfarers Unit or hike, horseback ride, or mountain bike in the Big Arm Unit.

Fun Fact

The giant lakebed of Montana’s Flathead Lake was carved by ancient glaciers during the Ice Age. With 185 miles of shoreline, it’s the largest freshwater body located between the Mississippi River and the Pacific Ocean.