10 Best Clear Lakes In Montana

Montana boasts some of the most stunning clear lakes, each offering a unique blend of beauty and tranquility. If you want to know about clear lakes of montana here’s a glimpse into the top clear lakes in montana

1. Flathead Lake (Clear Lake In Montana)

Flathead Lake montana clear water lake
clear lake in montana

Montana’s grandest gem, Flathead Lake dazzles with its vast, crystal-clear waters, surrounded by majestic mountains and endless skies.

Flathead Lake stands as the largest natural freshwater lake to the west of the Mississippi within the lower 48 states, boasting over 200 square miles of water and a captivating 185 miles of shoreline. Nestled within the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Flathead Reservation, the southern half of this majestic lake requires recreationists to obtain a tribal recreation permit.

Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks diligently maintain thirteen public access sites along the lake’s perimeter, including Sportsmans Bridge, Somers, Big Fork, and Juniper Beach fishing access sites. Additionally, there are Wayfarers, Woods Bay, Yellow Bay, Finely Point, Walstad Memorial, Big Arm, and Elmo state recreation areas, each equipped with facilities like toilets, boat launches, camping grounds, swimming spots, and picnic areas. Notably, West Shore State Park, located twenty miles south of Kalispell on Highway 93, enhances the recreational offerings.

Wildhorse Island, a 2,165-acre state park along the west shore near Big Arm, beckons adventure enthusiasts. Accessible solely by boat, it serves as a public day-use and picnic area, with no provision for overnight camping.

The spectrum of recreational activities around and on the lake is diverse, catering to varied interests. From sailing and power boating to waterskiing, swimming, and fishing, Flathead Lake promises enjoyment for everyone. During the summer, roadside stands on the east shore showcase locally grown cherries, apples, plums, and other fruits. Accommodations are abundant, ranging from numerous motels and rental cabins to public campgrounds dotting the picturesque shoreline. Key population centers such as Kalispell, Bigfork, and Polson stand ready to provide a comprehensive array of groceries, supplies, and information, ensuring a delightful experience for all who venture to this pristine Montana destination.

2. Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald montana clear lake
clear lake in montana

Nestled in Glacier National Park, Lake McDonald is a serene paradise of clear, cold waters reflecting the breathtaking landscapes of the Rockies.

Lake McDonald clear lake in montana nestled within the embrace of Glacier National Park, is a true natural wonder. Stretching ten miles in length and plunging to depths of 472 feet, it stands as the park’s largest lake. Carved by the ancient hands of Ice Age glaciers, Lake McDonald is a timeless testament to the forces of nature.

This majestic lake, resembling a fjord with its elongated shape, finds itself cradled by mountains on its northern, southern, and eastern borders. A mere 14 miles away, the imposing Continental Divide adds an extra touch of grandeur to the landscape. Not only do these mountains create a breathtaking backdrop for Lake McDonald, but they also serve as nature’s rain shield. As moisture-laden clouds meet the peaks, they release their gifts, leaving much of the precipitation to grace the McDonald valley below.

This climatic dance results in a mild and damp atmosphere, fostering the flourishing of stands of western red cedar and hemlock in the valley surrounding Lake McDonald. As you explore this verdant haven, keep your eyes peeled for a spectacular array of wildlife. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, black bears, and both whitetail and mule deer share this enchanting habitat, offering a captivating tableau of nature’s wonders. Lake McDonald, with its clear waters and vibrant ecosystem, invites you to embark on a journey where every glance reveals the harmonious dance between land, water, and wildlife.

3. Holland Lake

Holland Lake montanas clear lake
montana’s clear lake

Discover the hidden beauty of Holland Lake in the Swan Valley, where clear waters mirror the pristine wilderness, providing a peaceful retreat.

Holland Lake, spanning 400 acres, treats you to breathtaking vistas of the Swan Range in the magical coordinates of T20N, R16W, Section 35. This enchanting spot offers a delightful day use area and a cozy 41-site campground for a perfect retreat. Dive into the joy of swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, and boating. For nature enthusiasts, numerous hiking trails await at nearby trailheads, with one leading to the stunning Holland Falls.

As the seasons change, fishing becomes a delightful pursuit, especially in the early spring and late fall. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the lake’s clear waters, where kokanee salmon, rainbow, and bull trout populations thrive, creating a haven for anglers and nature lovers alike. Holland Lake is a treasure trove of experiences, inviting you to unwind and create cherished memories amidst its natural wonders.

4. Whitefish Lake

Whitefish Lake montans clear lake
clear lakes of montana

Close to the town of Whitefish, this lake captivates with its clear waters, inviting you to enjoy a day of relaxation and water activities.

Nestled in the heart of the charming resort community of Whitefish, Whitefish Lake stands as one of Montana’s beloved gems. Stretching generously, this lake extends about a mile in width and seven miles in length, covering a vast expanse of 3300 acres. Along its shores, elegant homes and condos add a touch of luxury, while towering, forested mountains embrace the lake with a natural grandeur.

Whitefish Lake is a haven for those seeking leisure on the water, offering opportunities for pleasure boating, sailing, and waterskiing. As you glide over its clear waters, you’ll be surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of tall mountains reflecting in the lake’s mirror-like surface.

Beneath the surface, Whitefish the clear Lake of montana hides treasures in the form of lake trout, rivaling even those found in the nearby Flathead Lake. These trout, often exceeding twenty pounds, share their aquatic home with sizable populations of mountain whitefish and other species like bull trout, cutthroat trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, yellow perch, and northern pike.

For anglers seeking the thrill of the catch, trolling the deeper sections of the lake with spin fishing gear is the favored method. The lake’s inlets, situated on the northern end, occasionally yield impressive catches. The scenic backdrop of Whitefish Lake, nestled at the base of Big Mountain with the Whitefish Mountain Resort overlooking its waters, adds to the allure.

While the lake is a bustling hub of activity during the summer, particularly on weekends, those in search of a quieter escape can find solace at the north end, a bit more secluded and away from the public boat launch.

Access to Whitefish Lake is convenient, with a public boat ramp located at City Beach near downtown Whitefish. For those preferring the simplicity of shoreline fishing, venturing down the tracks along the lake’s western side provides access to less developed areas. The west side, adorned with just a few homes along the shore, offers a more serene experience.

Whether you choose to embark on a pleasurable boating excursion or cast your line into the clear waters for a day of fishing, Whitefish Lake welcomes all. And for the adventurous angler, the lake is the origin of the Whitefish River, allowing exploration downstream to various access points in the Flathead Valley or even to the confluence with the Flathead River, with the only caveat being readiness to navigate around natural obstacles.

5. Bowman Lake

Bowman Lake montana clear lakes
monatan’s clear lake

A secluded gem within Glacier National Park, Bowman Lake offers clear waters and a tranquil atmosphere, perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape.

Nestled in the heart of nature, Bowman Lake is a serene haven approximately one mile wide and stretching for eight miles. At its head lies a welcoming front-country campsite, while a more secluded backcountry site awaits at its base. Make a pit stop at the charming Polebridge Mercantile, the sole nearby store, to gather all your camping essentials.

For those seeking a peaceful day out, a scenic picnic area beckons, offering the perfect spot for a tranquil lunch. Adventurers can explore day hiking opportunities near Bowman Lake, immersing themselves in the pristine wilderness of Glacier National Park.

Water enthusiasts rejoice! Fishermen, canoers, and kayakers will find joy in the recreational offerings of Bowman Lake. The Bowman Lake Trail sets off from the northeast corner of the campground, leading eager hikers to the beauty of Brown Pass, a captivating journey spanning 6.7 miles from Bowman Lake Campground. Embrace the natural wonders and recreational delights that Bowman Lake graciously unfolds to all its visitors.

Clear Lakes In Montana

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6. Lake Koocanusa

Clear Lake Of Monatana: Lake koocanusa

Stretching into Canada, Lake Koocanusa delights with its northern clear waters, inviting exploration and water adventures.

Embrace the allure of this 90-mile-long lake, a haven for fishing and boating enthusiasts alike. Delight in the diverse aquatic life, including rainbow and cutthroat trout, whitefish, kokanee, and the elusive burbot (Ling cod). The streams that flow into this picturesque reservoir offer splendid opportunities to reel in brook trout, adding to the angler’s delight.

Explore the wonders of Libby Dam, the majestic source of this expansive lake, with informative tours available throughout the summer months. Located approximately 43 miles south of Rexford, Libby Dam stands as a testament to engineering marvels and natural beauty.

Numerous recreation areas dot the lakeshore, each offering a unique blend of tranquility and adventure. Rocky Gorge beckons with 120 campsites nestled under the open sky, catering to both tent and RV enthusiasts. A convenient boat ramp opens the gateway to the lake’s endless possibilities.

Peck Gulch, with its inviting restrooms, boat ramp, and ample picnicking spots, creates an ideal setting for a day by the water. The Barron Creek Recreation Site boasts a boat ramp and dispersed camping areas, inviting you to immerse yourself in the serenity of nature.

McGillivray Recreation Site stands as a welcoming campground and day-use area, complete with group picnic shelters. Here, overnight camping becomes a memorable experience, complemented by ball fields, a sandy swimming beach, and easy access to a boat ramp.

For a delightful escape, embark on a short boat ride from McGillivray Recreation Site to the enchanting Yarnell Islands. Nestled amid the waters, these islands offer camping and picnicking facilities, inviting you to create cherished memories in the heart of nature’s embrace.

7. Georgetown Lake

Georgetown Lake clear water lake in montana
clear lake in monatana

Surrounded by Montana’s beauty, Georgetown Lake is a haven for fishing and recreation, where clear waters meet the allure of the great outdoors.

Georgetown Lake is a fantastic playground for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a variety of recreational activities in a stunning mountain setting. This expansive lake, spanning 3,000 acres and nestled at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, is a haven for boating, fishing, camping, and windsurfing.

Embraced by the majestic Flint Creek Range to the north and the scenic Pintlers to the south, Georgetown Lake provides a picturesque backdrop for your adventures. Fishing enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Kokanee salmon takes the spotlight, with rainbow trout also making a splash.

With four public boat ramps, the lake welcomes boaters and anglers alike. When winter blankets the area, Georgetown Lake transforms into a snowy wonderland, inviting ice fishing enthusiasts and snowmobilers to revel in the seasonal magic.

Convenient access to lodging, restaurants, casinos, and a marina ensures that your stay is comfortable and enjoyable. If you prefer the great outdoors, camping options abound at various National Forest campgrounds scattered around the lake.

Whether you’re seeking the thrill of water sports, the tranquility of fishing, or the enchantment of winter activities, Georgetown Lake promises a delightful retreat in nature’s embrace.

8. Quake Lake

clear lake of montana

Born from a historic earthquake, Quake Lake is a fascinating destination with clear waters, reflecting the resilience of nature.

On a summer day in 1959, nature’s powerful dance shaped Quake Lake near West Yellowstone. An earthquake in the Madison Canyon River Area played its part, sculpting a lake with a unique story. The quake triggered a colossal landslide, moving 80 million tons of rock that blocked the flow of the Madison River in the canyon gorge. This event, though dramatic, resulted in 28 lives lost, flooding, and about $11 million in damages to the nearby forests and highways.

Today, Quake Lake stretches five miles in length, spans a third of a mile in width, and reaches a depth of 190 feet. Fishermen find joy in casting their lines from boats or along the inviting shores. Accessible from Highway 287, the lake welcomes visitors with a convenient boat ramp. Cutthroat and brown trout are lovingly introduced to the waters each year. While float tube fishing may not be the optimal choice due to submerged timbers and occasional winds, these very timbers create ideal habitats for the fish, making dry fly fishing an exciting pursuit.

For those curious about the lake’s origin, the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center stands as a storyteller. Within its walls, a Memorial Boulder from the earthquake rests, bearing a plaque engraved with the names of the 28 individuals who lost their lives and details of the seismic event. Opening its doors from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, the visitor center warmly welcomes guests from Memorial Day through mid-September, offering a deeper understanding of Quake Lake’s remarkable history.

9. Ashley Lake

Ashley Lake montana clear water
montana clear lake

Tucked away northwest of Kalispell, Ashley Lake is a hidden treasure with clear waters and a calm ambiance, perfect for a peaceful retreat.

Nestled in the heart of northwest Montana, at an elevation of 3,500 feet, lies the enchanting Ashley Lake. Stretching gracefully for 4 miles in length and 2 miles in width, this picturesque haven offers a delightful escape. Imagine three charming campgrounds dotting the shoreline, beckoning with tent and trailer sites to make your stay as cozy as can be.

As you cast your line into the clear waters, you’ll find a fishing paradise awaiting you. Ashley Lake boasts a bounty of kokanee, cutthroat, yellow perch, and occasionally, the elusive rainbow-cutthroat hybrid. It’s not just about the fishing, though—there’s a designated swimming area for those seeking a refreshing dip, a convenient boat ramp for your aquatic adventures, and inviting picnic tables where you can savor a delightful lakeside meal.

With thoughtful amenities like fire rings to gather around and restrooms for added comfort, Ashley Lake ensures your experience is both enjoyable and convenient. Worried about leaving your furry friends behind? Fear not! Leashed pets are warmly welcomed to join in the lakeside fun.

Let’s explore the three unique campgrounds:

  1. Ashley Lake North Campground: Boasting 6 sites and a friendly host, this spot is perfect for a cozy lakeside retreat.
  2. Ashley Lake South Campground: Offering 2 sites, this peaceful locale is ideal for those seeking a more intimate camping experience, although it’s not suitable for trailers.
  3. Ashley Lake Boat Launch: Providing 4 sites and a convenient boat ramp, this area ensures easy access to the lake for your boating pleasures.

Whether you’re a fishing enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply someone in search of tranquility, Ashley Lake welcomes you with open arms to experience the joys of Montana’s scenic beauty.

10. Saint Mary Lake

Saint Mary Lake monatana lake clear water
montana clear lake

Found within Glacier National Park, Saint Mary Lake enchants with clear waters and stunning mountain views, creating a picturesque setting for all to enjoy.

Nestled on the eastern side of Glacier National Park along the enchanting Going-to-the-Sun Road, you’ll discover the beauty of St. Mary Lake. Stretching gracefully for 10 miles, this lake is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering glimpses of elk, mule deer, and both grizzly and black bears. In the warmer months, hillsides come alive with vibrant wildflowers like Indian paintbrush and lupine, while autumn transforms the landscape into a canvas of oranges and yellows, courtesy of the majestic aspens. Winter brings its own charm, inviting adventurers to cross-country ski and snowshoe across the pristine surroundings.

As you wind along the Going-to-the-Sun Road, keep an eye out for inviting pullouts that unveil stunning views of Jackson Glacier, beckoning hikes to the awe-inspiring 100-foot Virginia Falls, and picturesque moments capturing Wild Goose Island. Just beyond the East Entrance, the St. Mary Visitor Center welcomes you to delve into the park’s wonders, connect with knowledgeable rangers, and appreciate “the Backbone of the World” – a term coined by the Blackfeet tribe, who share their unique perspective on Glacier’s natural beauty.

For a truly immersive experience, consider a scenic boat cruise on St. Mary Lake. From June to September, Glacier Park Boat Company extends the opportunity to explore the lake’s serenity, adding another layer to your journey through the captivating landscapes of Glacier National Park.

Conclusion: Clear Lakes In Montana

Montana’s pristine lakes are not just breathtaking; they’re an invitation to a world of tranquility and natural wonder. From the expansive beauty of Flathead Lake to the hidden gems like Holland Lake, each destination promises an escape into clear waters and serene landscapes. Whether you yearn for the calm shores of Ashley Lake or the majesty of Glacier National Park’s Lake McDonald, Montana’s top ten lakes offer an unparalleled experience. So, pack your bags, embark on a journey, and let the crystal-clear lakes of Montana be your guide. Discover the magic, create lasting memories, and let the spirit of adventure embrace you. Welcome to Montana’s aquatic paradise!

For More Detail You Can Check Montana’s Government Website

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