Glacier National Park gets a lot of attention and rightly so, but it isn’t the only wonder around here. Montana has an incredible state park system with plenty of hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and camping opportunities. Visit Wild Horse Island State Park to catch a glimpse of the wild horses and bighorn sheep. Have a picnic and catch the sunset at the pebble beach at Big Arm. Or push deeper into the mountains and spend a night under the stars at Ashley Lake South, just 12 miles outside of Kalispell.
It’s no wonder Lone Pine State Park is Kalispell’s favorite place to hang out. With 7.5 miles of forested trails and breath-taking views of the entire Flathead Valley, Lone Pine offers an away-from-it-all experience just five minutes from town. The Visitor Center has exhibits about local wildlife including bears, wolves and raptors and provides creative outdoor classes for children.
Flathead Lake has six state parks, five of which offer camping spots. Wild Horse Island is day-use only.
- Wayfarers, Bigfork. Nature walks along the rocky shoreline, picturesque picnic spots and lake views of the lake; 30 RV camping sites, five tent sites, boat launch.
- Big Arm, Southwest end of the lake. Long pebble beach for sunbathing and swimming, nature trail, boat launch; RV and camp sites and a yurt rental. A joint state/tribal fishing license is needed for fishing at this park.
- Finley Point, south end of the lake; Boat slips; RV and tent sites.
- West Shore, south of Lakeside. Glacially-carved rocky outcrops, access to swimming and boat launch; 22 camp sites.
- Yellow Bay, east shore. Wide, gravely beach for swimming, water-skiing, fishing. Four tent sites, boat slips. A joint state/tribal fishing license required.
- Whitefish Lake State Park has 25 secluded campsites and a beach with boating, swimming and fishing access about a half mile west of Whitefish on U.S. 93.
FLATHEAD NATIONAL FOREST boasts 34 campgrounds with over 400 campsites. Some require a small fee and others are free.
Here are a few close by:
- Tally Lake Ranger District
- Tally Lake — 12 miles from Whitefish
- Stillwater Lake — 21 miles west of Whitefish
- Ashley Lake South — 12 miles from Kalispell
- Swan Lake Ranger District
- Swan Lake —14 miles south of Bigfork
- Hungry Horse Ranger District
- Big Creek — 20 miles from Columbia Falls on the North Fork of the Flathead River