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Flathead Lake -- Road Trip Day 10


After visiting Pompey's Pillar and settling into Bozeman, MT for the night, we moved onward. We wanted to check out Flathead Lake on our way to Glacier we did! It was a perfect idea because we had a long drive from Bozeman, so by the time we even got near the Glacier NP area it would be fairly late to do anything there. Stopping for a quick hike around and near Flathead Lake was a great mediary. 

Mountain in Montana Wildfires
An unfortunate wildfire on a mountain we saw on our way through Montana. This was right outside of Arlee, MT and was actually on the Flathead Indian Reservation, I believe right off of US highway 93. Not the first wildfire we'd see on our trip :(

 I got thinking while we were here...Man, we had some insane luck on our trip, every day we perfect blue skies, few clouds, rain, fog, smoke, etc. Sure some were excruciatingly hot, but every single day, just banger after banger. Day 10 of our road trip out west was no different! A beautiful day that only highlighted the landscapes.


Flathead Lake Montana
Pristine and stunning Flathead Lake!


About Flathead Lake

Located in northwest Montana, Flathead Lake stands out as more than just an ordinary body of water. It proudly holds the title of being the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States in terms of surface area. Its sheer size is truly remarkable, spanning an impressive 28 miles in length and 15 miles in width, covering an expansive 191 square miles. If you drive from Polson, at the bottom of the lake to Somers at the top of the lake it takes roughly 45 minutes to get there.

This lake is no shallow pool either, as it reaches a depth of approximately 370 feet at its lowest point. It can be likened to the majestic Grand Canyon, drawing its waters from various sources, including the renowned Flathead River. However, Flathead Lake is not solely defined by its immense proportions or breathtaking beauty. It possesses a profound essence that resonates with its rich history and cultural significance. 

It was actually named after the Flathead Native American Tribe, who have called this region home for countless generations, the lake holds a deep connection to its original inhabitants. Treat it with respect! Situated partially on the Flathead Indian Reservation, it serves as a place steeped in cultural heritage and historical importance. Today, Flathead Lake transcends being a mere picturesque postcard image. It thrives as a vibrant and thriving ecosystem, providing a habitat for a diverse array of wildlife.

 It serves as a harmonious meeting point between the past and the present, where visitors can revel in the natural splendor while also appreciating the profound cultural roots that make this place truly extraordinary.


Flathead Lake
Such a serene place!


Flathead Lake's history and natural beauty are remarkable. This lake is a vestige of an ancient, much larger lake, shaped by the same glacial activities that formed Glacial Lake Missoula. Its impressive depth and distinctive shape are legacies of these geological processes.

The lake is nestled within a landscape that boasts a variety of stunning vistas, encompassing dense forests, rugged shorelines, and towering mountain ranges like the Mission and Swan Mountains. This diverse environment makes Flathead Lake a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of activities such as boating, fishing, swimming, and kayaking.

The lake is also a vibrant ecosystem, home to a rich variety of fish species. This bustling aquatic life, combined with the chance to spot eagles in the sky, adds an extra layer of wonder to the already magnificent surroundings.


Beautiful Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake is both a breathtaking natural destination and a vital element of the local ecosystem. It functions as an organic water purification system and provides essential habitat for diverse species. Yet, this lake is not immune to environmental threats like pollution, invasive species, and climate change effects. Organizations and agencies are committed to preserving its ecological integrity.

Beyond its ecological role, Flathead Lake is steeped in cultural importance. It's a treasure trove of local legends, stories, and traditions, enriching it as more than a mere physical feature. The lake is a focal point for community gatherings, events, and attracts tourists to Montana for unique outdoor experiences.

Additionally, Flathead Lake is a hub for scientific research and education. The Flathead Lake Biological Station, for instance, is a center of excellence for studying freshwater ecology. The insights gathered here significantly enhance global understanding of freshwater environments, underlining the lake's importance in scientific and educational fields.


Dog on a Rock. Flathead Lake
There he is! Schatzi is king of his rock


Flathead Cherries

The fertile land surrounding Flathead Lake is ideal for farming, and the area is known for its high-quality cherry orchards. The microclimate created by the lake provides favorable conditions for these and other crops, making agriculture an important part of the local economy. Seriously though, there are cherry stands everywhere. Flathead cherries here, Flathead cherries there. I'm disgusted with myself for not getting any on my way through. Perhaps next time I get out to Glacier NP I'll stop by at Flathead Lake again for some cherries!


Lodging? We stayed at the West Glacier KOA of course. The cabins were NOT!!! Air conditioned. But thankfully the weather got cooler, and was cooler in general in this area. We managed. The West Glacier KOA is actually one of the highest rated KOA sites in the country. It was actually pretty cool, and I see why. There was a ton of stuff there, including an onsite restaurant that served breakfast and dinner, as well as a converted AirStream that a bartender was slinging beers and spirits out of, aptly titled the Bear-Stream. Or maybe it should be the beer-stream??

We stayed here for two nights. Tonight, and the night we actually went to Glacier National Park.

Cooking out on the propane stove West Glacier KOA
West Glacier KOA Propane Stove Cooking. You can see the standalone restaurant in the background. We decided to cook tonight instead. I think we were making people jealous over there. I made some delicious burrito bowls. It's totally possible! You can spy my GF's cocktail she got from the Bear-Stream as well. I got an old fashioned because... well why not. 


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