Close this search box.

Flathead Lake

The Largest, Natural, Freshwater Lake This Side Of The Mississippi

Flathead Lake contains 200-square miles of water and is ringed by 185 miles of shoreline. The Flathead and Swan rivers, both of which run through Bigfork, feed fresh water into Flathead Lake year-round.

Locals and visitors alike treasure Flathead Lake for its spectacular beauty and endless opportunities for water recreation, including fishing, motor, sail or paddle boating, hiking, camping and swimming.

Visitors can also enjoy a picnic and camp or hike through the vast public lands that surround the lake, including six state parks and nine fishing access points.

Another must-see landmark is Wild Horse Island, a 2,165-acre state park located on the largest island in Flathead Lake. It is only accessible by boat, but the daytrip is worth it to see wild horses and the world-record setting Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that live there.

Many visitors remark that the residents of Bigfork don’t know how lucky they are, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! It is impossible to become desensitized to such a stunning vision. The lake is a source of daily inspiration and year-round recreation for all of us.

What's going on with the water level of flathead lake?

The Flathead Lake Biological Station  is a Center of Excellence and administrative unit within the University of Montana system. For over 100 years, they been monitoring Flathead Lake.  Dr Jim Elser,  Director & Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, presented a Breakdown of the 2023 Flathead Lake Levels

The synopsis? “In light of challenging limnological, hydrological, and climatic conditions, FLBS recommends that water managers, political leaders, and community members engage in constructive dialogue about adjustments in operations, infrastructure, expectations, and attitudes to cope with the possibility that the difficult situation we are experiencing in 2023 might recur in coming years.”

Five Flathead Lake must's

  1.  Take a cruise to Wild Horse Island
  2. Camp on Cedar Island (but remember no fires!)
  3. Make a day of it and cruise the length of the lake to explore Polson
  4. Park at the public dock to explore downtown Bigfork before cruising to Woods Bay to check out The Raven & The Sitting Duck
  5. Pick up litter!  If you see something floating in the water it is your job to pick it up. 

Get Visitors Guide