Recreation on Flathead

Flathead Lake and the surrounding area provide unlimited recreation opportunities, both on and off the water. Taking time to enjoy the area’s scenic vistas, sparkling waters, mountain trails and friendly communities helps us all slow down and appreciate life and our natural surroundings. The Flathead Lakers work year-round to protect the clean waters and natural environments that we treasure for their recreation opportunities and the renewal they bring us.

On the Water


Whether you bring your own boat, rent locally, or use a charter, getting out on Flathead Lake and nearby waters is a great way to experience this special part of a very special state.

Boating Resources: (link coming soon)Rentals, charters, marinas, tour boats, and more

Boating Regulations: No-wake zone and jet ski regulations and more

Flathead Lakers personal watercraft report


Flathead Lake offers excellent fishing for lake trout, which can exceed 20 pounds, although the 3 to 8 pound range are more commonly caught (and better eating). Trolling in deep water from a boat is the usual fishing technique, but in the fall, when the trout are spawning near shore, fishing the shallow bays can be quite successful. Fishing for lake whitefish and perch is also popular. Be sure to release any bull trout you accidently catch as they are listed as threatened species.

Flathead Lake Fishing Guide provides more fishing information.

Each spring and fall, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offer the Mack Days fishing tournament, with a variety of cash prizes offered. Visit the official Mack Days website for more information.

Parks & Campgrounds

Big Arm State Park features a long pebble swimming beach, tent and RV camp sites, rental yurts, and a year-round boat launch site.

Wild Horse Island is the largest island in Flathead Lake and nearly all of it is a state park. Swimming, hiking and wildlife viewing are popular activities at this day-use only park.

West Shore State Park offers great views of the lake and surrounding mountains, tent and RV camping and a boat ramp.

At Wayfarers State Park just south of Bigfork, you can launch your boat, camp in your tent or RV, and enjoy the sunset from the beautiful rocky shoreline. Boat and trailer dump stations are available.

Yellow Bay State Park has a wide, gravelly swimming beach, a boat launch and 4 tent camp sites.

Finley Point State Park, located in a mature pine forest on the south side of the point four miles off Highway 35, offers camping, boat launching, and swimming. Boat slips and a boat sewage dump station are available.

Blue Bay Campground and Park is operated by the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes. It offers a boat launch and swimming area. A lodge and boat slips are available to rent.

Fishing Access & Boat Launch Sites

Sportsman Bridge – boat ramp just upstream from Flathead Lake on the Flathead River.

Somers – seasonal boat ramp 1 mile south of Somers.

Bigfork – seasonal boat ramp off Hwy 35 at mile marker 31.

Ducharme – undeveloped seasonal site 3 miles east of Polson off Hwy 35.

Elmo – seasonal boat ramp near Rollins/Elmo.

Walstad – seasonal boat ramp 10 miles north of Polson at mile marker 72.

Woods Bay – seasonal boat ramp 1 mile west of Highway 35 at Woods Bay.

Lake Area Communities & Attractions


The community of Bigfork is known for its art galleries, restaurants and summer theater, in addition to the outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities provided by the lake, Swan River and the Swan Mountain Range. On the northeast end of the lake on Bigfork Bay where the Swan River enters the lake, Bigfork is always a popular tourist destination. To learn more visit the Bigfork Chamber of Commerce.


Polson lies at the south end of Flathead Lake, surrounded by fertile farm land, cherry orchards and the spectacular Mission Mountains. The Polson Players summer theater and the golf course on the lakeshore plus two museums are popular attractions, as are the city park beaches, marinas, and rafting on the lower Flathead River. To learn more visit the Polson Chamber of Commerce.

Lakeside & Somers

The communities of Lakeside and Somers are neighbors at the northwest end of Flthead Lake. Swimming beaches, parks and a bike trail are enjoyed by locals and visitors. Sailing, sea kayaking and boating are popular summer activities, while nearby Blacktail Mountain offers downhill and cross country skiing in the winter. One end of the Foys to Blacktail Trail is at Blacktail Mountain. Visit the Lakeside-Somers Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Cherry Orchards

The Flathead Lake area is famous for its cherry orchards. The lake influences the climate adjacent to it making it mild enough to support cherry growing. During the harvest season in mid-July to early August, cherries are sold at roadside stands. Many orchards also offer a “you-pick” option. Two festivals celebrate Flathead cherries and cherry-growing. In May, the Cherry Blossom Festival is held at Yellow Bay and along the lake’s east shore, and in July, the Polson Cherry Festival celebrates the ripening of the cherries.