Meet Flathead Lake, Montana’s Biggest Secret
If you’ve been to Flathead Lake Lodge, you know that we sit on the shore of Flathead Lake — the largest natural freshwater lake in the West. And while we often make mention of how lucky we are to have our guest ranch on Flathead Lake, we may not tell you enough about this place.
At 28 miles long and about 15 miles wide, Flathead Lake covers nearly 200 square miles and has 185 miles of shoreline.
Here are 12 things you probably didn’t know about Flathead Lake...
1. Flathead Lake is the 79th largest natural lake on the planet.
2. The water quality of Flathead Lake is one of the cleanest in the world. This can be credited to the lake being fed by waterways that are full of snowmelt from Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.
3. Much like its friend to the north Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake was carved out by massive glaciers that moved through the area during the Ice Age.
4. Due to its sheer size, Flathead Lake often creates its own weather patterns and during storms, you’ll see whitecaps form on the lake as winds rage across it.
5. Flathead Lake is home to HUGE fish. For example, the lake trout caught on Flathead Lake average about 8 pounds, but many of them tip the scales at larger weights.
6. You can drive all the way around the lake. It will take a few hours, but is hands-down one of the most beautiful drives around. You’ll largely take U.S. Highway 93 and Montana Highway 35.
7. There are public access sites all around the lake, including state parks, fishing access sites and parks.
8. Abundant recreation takes place on the lake. A few of note: sailing, kayaking, jet skis, boat cruises and fishing.
9. Here at the ranch, we take about 550 sails a year on the waters of Flathead Lake, most often on our two historic 51-foot Q-class racing sloops — the Questa and the Nor’Easter. They were both built in the late 1920s and are an important part of the Flathead Lake Lodge family and history.
10. Due largely to its sheer volume, Flathead Lake rarely freezes over during the winter, although you will find ice along the shorelines and in various bays around the lake. The last time the entire lake froze all the way was more than 30 years ago.
11. Flathead Lake creates an ideal environment (that is a bit milder that other places in Montana) for growing fruit. As you drive around the lake, you’ll see all kinds of orchards along the shoreline that grow cherries and in the summer, you can pick local cherries up at a roadside stand.
12. Flathead Lake is home to numerous islands, including Wild Horse Island. The largest island on the lake around 2,160 acres, Wild Horse is a day-use state park that’s home to all sorts of wildlife, including wild horses.
Learn more about our guest ranch on the shores of Flathead Lake at FlatheadLakeLodge.com.
Until next time, happy trails and adventuring.