Cruisin’ Around Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. At 28 miles long and up to 15 miles wide, the lake contains more than 180 square miles of pure enjoyment. Spend a day lakeside – visiting the communities and attractions that surround this special body of water.

Do the loop – from Kalispell, head south and explore the west side of the lake on Highway 93.  At Polson, follow Highway 35 north which will take you along the east side of the lake.

Breakfast at Montana Coffee Traders — Start with a hearty breakfast and a perfect cup of coffee brewed from locally roasted beans. Pick up a bag of Organic Glacier Centennial Blend to enjoy back home. (Part of the proceeds benefit the Glacier Fund and the trails of Glacier.)

Jeff Fleming’s Bear Country Studio & Gallery — This is the home of the famous BearFoot™ Bears and Big Sky Bears™ found in stores nationwide. Jeff is often out front working on a carving or inside putting the finishing touches on a new piece.

West Shore State Park — The perfect spot for a photo stop. Glacier-carved rock outcrops provide some spectacular views of Flathead Lake and the Mission and Swan mountain ranges.

Kerr Dam — At 204 feet high, the dam is 54 feet higher than Niagara Falls. During the spring and summer, the water flow over the spillway is incredible! A 1,000 foot boardwalk (there are spots to rest along the way) takes you to incredible views of the dam and canyon.

Miracle of America Museum – Kids and grownups love getting hands-on inside this vast compilation of fascinating whatnots fondly nicknamed the “Smithsonian of the West.”  Displays include vintage clothing, military items, antique toys and curios – plus an outdoor assemblage of helicopters, boats, tanks and vehicles of all kinds.  The museum is known for its collections of Native American artifacts and Glacier Park memorabilia.

Orchard Fruit Stands — The climate around Flathead Lake is perfect for growing the famous Flathead Cherries. From late July to mid-August you’ll find fruit stands full of just-picked cherries. Many offer fresh raspberries, apricots, pears and apples in season.

Take a Hike! If you feel the need to get out and stretch your legs during your trip around the lake, there are hiking trails at each unit of the Flathead Lake State Parks.  For a longer hike, a local favorite is Beardance Trail off of Highway 35, just south of Woods Bay.

Bigfork — Stroll through the galleries and shops before dinner at one of the village’s great restaurants. Stop by the little white house that houses Eva Gates Homemade Preserves and visit the new Sliter Park Memorial Park just across the historic steel bridge.

Tailor your itinerary with these options:

Fore!  – Put your clubs in the car for your trip around the lake. Play a round at the Polson Bay Golf Course or Eagle Bend just outside of Bigfork. Both offer not only great golf, but some beautiful views of the lake.

The Far West – Experience Flathead Lake’s sparkling waters and mountain views aboard The Far West or book a day trip to Wild Horse Island.

Grapes, Hops & Rye – For those who enjoy a glass of wine or a cold brew, check out these special stops around Flathead Lake:

Tamarack Brewing Company  A casual brew pub open for lunch and dinner daily in Lakeside. Save room for the Flathead Lake Pizza Cookie Monster or Bourbon Barrel Pecan Pie.

Mission Mountain Winery  The first bonded winery in the state of Montana and currently produces approximately 6,500 cases of wine a year. The tasting room is open seven days a week from May 1 through October 31.

Flathead Lake Brewing Company – Situated on the lakeshore in Woods Bay, the brewery features 10 finely-crafted beers along with seasonal favorites. The brewpub and tasting room are open daily from 12:30 until 8 pm.

Whistling Andy  A micro-distillery using Flathead Valley grains for its vodka, gin, whiskey, bourbon and moonshine. The tasting room features a retail section along with local coffee and lattes and a variety of handcrafted nonalcoholic beverages.

Share this post

Looking for other great vacation ideas?

Discover tips on great outdoor activities, dining and shopping options, cultural attractions and seasonal highlights at our blog.