Home » 2000 Cross Country Road Trip

Flathead Lake, MT

Monday, July 24, 2000 - 8:00am by Lolo
160 miles and 3.5 hours from our last stop


Kids in Flathead LakeKids in Flathead LakeWe had a long day of driving planned--about 8 hours--so we needed to find something fun along the way. Flathead Lake along our route through Montana was just what we needed. The lake was beautiful, set along the base of the very scenic Mission Mountain Range.

After a nice picnic lunch in the state park along the western shore of the lake, the kids ran down the boat ramp and jumped into the lake. The water was surprisingly warm considering it was in the Rocky Mountains. The kids had a great time. I'm kind of glad that we only read later about the "swimmer's itch" parasite that is found in the lake or the kids never would have gone in. Fortunately, none of them encountered it..


Flathead Lake, in northwestern Montana, is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Stretching for 28 miles along the base of the scenic Mission Range, it is one of the few lakes in the Rocky Mountains that is warm enough for swimming.

One problem with swimming in the lake is the "swimmer's itch" parasite found in the shallow water. Make sure you wipe off with a towel or shower right after you come out of the water.

The state park has six separate sections scattered around the lake, each of them with a campground, picnic area, boat ramp, and swimming beach. Two units are on the west shore, three on the east shore, and one on While Horse Island..

Tom & Dianna Mayes on December 8, 2009

I am familiar with this area. Just SW of your pic about 40 miles off hwy 83 is Holland Lake.
A trail head starts there which leads to upper Holland Lake,in turn leads to Gordan Pass then to Big Salmon Lake. The first 9 miles is uphill with numerous switch-backs.
Then down hill to the lake(23 miles total to lake head )Fishing at the head and the out flow was Fabulous!(Cutthroats,Rainbows & Dolly Vardons) This is Quite a vast area. If you continue east of the lake, you hit the Continental Divide and the Chinese Wall.
We did not make it that far east. We made about a 70 mile loop to the north through Burnt Creek Park and back out West through Necklace Lakes(5 days) On this trip was my brother and 3 other Gentleman.
On another hike we started at the south end of Hungry Horse Res at trail head "Meadow Creek" and hiked up the South Fork of the Flathead River all the way past Big Salmon Lake to Holland Lake,we had friends in Kalispell drop us off and meet us at Holland lake with our van,beer & grilled burger's ! Hope you enjoy this post ! Fellow Excursionist Tom

Herb on December 9, 2009

Wow Tom,
A 70 mile loop over 5 days in that territory sounds like quite a trip! From your link to photos I learned that it also snowed up there. I'm itching to get back out west and do some backpacking too. The last time Lorry and I backpacked was probably before kids (Baxter State Park, Yosemite, Grand Canyon). I'm trying to keep myself in rock climbing shape too, so I can climb some of the classic routes out west.
That the fishing was great sounds like quite a bonus. After that much of a hike you probably earned the privilege to fish a lake that hadn't seen a lot of fishing pressure! When we're ready to visit that section again I'll definitely contact you for some more advice. Thanks for the post! Herb

Flathead Lake location map in "high definition"

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