Flathead Lake in northwest Montana is considered the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi within the boundaries of the continental United States. The Lake contains cover 200 square miles of water and 185 miles of shoreline. Studies at the Flathead Biological Station show that water quality in Flathead Lake is among the best in the world. Its major tributaries are the Flathead and Swan Rivers. Numerous small streams flow directly into the lake at its shoreline, particularly on the wetter East Shore. Kerr Dam is located at the outlet of Flathead Lake in Polson. Regulations of outflow by KERR Dam maintain the lake level between 2,883 and 2,893 feet above sea level.
The southern half of Flathead Lake lies within the boundary of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Flathead Reservation which was created in 1855 by the Hellgate Treaty. Recreational activities on and around Flathead Lake include multiple camping sites, including the 13 public access site maintained by Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, sailing in and around the Dayton area, motor boating, waterskiing, swimming, fishing, and picnicking.
There are three highways around the 185 miles of shoreline of Flathead Lake. Those three highways are US Highway 93 along the West Shore of Flathead Lake, Montana Highway 82 along the north of The Lake and Montana Highway 35 along the East Shore of The Lake.
The Lake’s most southern point where US Highway 93 and Montana Highway 35 intersect is Polson Montana. Polson is a small town of about 5000 people that was incorporated in 1910. Polson is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The Flathead Indian Reservation is governed by The Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribe which is headquartered five miles to the south of Polson in Pablo. Polson is a lakeshore community in the trading center for one of most fertile farming areas in Montana. This prime cherry growing region is home to dozens of orchards, which Polson celebrates with an annual Cherry Festival. The Friday Farmers Market is about a block long and is a local and tourist attraction. The Mission Mountain Range is to the east of Polson with its snow-capped peaks. The Flathead River that flows along the west side of Polson features whitewater rafting and Kerr Dam. There are two museums located in Polson, The Miracle of America and the Polson-Flathead Historical Museum. Five miles to the south in Pablo, the governmental headquarters of the Flathead Nation is the Peoples Center, a museum focused on the preservation of the rich history of the Tribes. All offer many displays and historic memorabilia.
You can read more about this wonderful place in the Flathead Lake Vacation Guide. It is available both on this website using PayPal as well as through Amazon where you can preview the guide. Save the paper and get the digital verson before you venture into this beautiful place.
The Montana Lake Vacation Guide contains information about every public campground and fishing access site around Flathead Lake. It includes most every hiking trail head in the Jewel Basin outside of Bigfork as well as information about every town and annual activities available around Flathead
The Guide sorts the information you will need for a great Montana vacation by town, then by activities, including places to eat and sleep. Towns included in the Flathead Lake Vacation Guide include the population centers like Bigfork, Lakeside and Polson, as well as the smaller towns like Woods Bay, Finely Point or Big Arm.
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