Montana lakes are the perfect place for a summer vacation. The lakes in Montana offer endless opportunities to swim, boat, fish and explore nature. From serene lakeside cabins to bustling campgrounds with all sorts of activities, there’s something for everyone. We’ll help you plan your next Montana lake vacation. Here are some of our favorite bodies of water for swimming and boating.
Best Montana lakes for swimming
You want a swimming hole? Montana has some of the clearest freshwater lakes in the world.
- Lake Elwell
- Lake Blaine
- Dupuyer Lake
- Swan Lake
- Blue Mountain Lake
Best lakes for boating in Montana
If your boat’s coming with you might need to find some lakes with a recreation area and an accessible boat ramp. Call in advance to make sure you’ve got all the details before heading out to the lake.
- Flathead Lake
- Blacktail Pond
- Lake Josephine
- Jocko Lakes
- Big Arm State Park
- Lake Francis Case
Best lakes for fishing
Montana has some of the best fishing spots in the world!
- Blue Mountain lakes
- Lake Blaine
- Lake Elwell
- Lake Mary Ronan
- Swan Lake
Montana lakes offer an array of activities: water skiing, tubing and jet skiing to name a few. Fishing is legal year-round in Montana lakes and rivers across the state, so bring your pole!
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If you’re looking for a more relaxed vacation at a rustic lakeside cabin or one that has all the amenities you need, then this list of Montana lakes should be helpful in picking where to stay.
The best lakes to visit in Montana
In no particular order, here are some of the best lakes in Montana:
1) Silver Bow Lake – This lake offers a scenic drive with many places to stop and take pictures along the way. The lake is situated within Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and is a popular destination for hikers, campers and swimmers.
2) Thompson Lake – Boasting beautiful views of the surrounding mountains with many lakeside vacation rentals, this lake has something to offer all types of travelers. If you want to rough it under the stars or have a lakeside kitchen ready cabin for cooking up your catch from exploring Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, then Thompson Lake is a great option.
3) Lost Horse Lake – Although not as well known as some of Montana’s lakes, this little gem is worth checking out if you’re looking for a quiet lakeside retreat. The views around Lost Horse Lake are spectacular and will leave you wanting more! There are also several lakeside vacation rentals available in the area, so you can choose how fancy or rustic you want your stay to be.
4) Raley Lake – If seclusion is what you seek, then this might be the Montana lakes for you. There are no lakeside vacation rentals near Raley Lake but it still sees a fair amount of visitors due to its central location. The lake itself sits amid mountains with forest on either side and wildlife all around!
5) Rock Creek Lake – With several lakeside vacation homes available, Rock Creek is one of the most popular lakes in Montana. One great thing about this lake is that it sees less use by powerboats compared to other bigger lakes in Montana. It’s also only 20 miles from Dillon, Montana making it a great getaway.
6) South Fork Flathead River – Nestled between lakes McDonald and Koocanusa, both of which are also in the area, this river is scenic and serene. Although not lakes themselves, these rivers offer plenty of opportunities for fishing and tubing. Camping is available at several campgrounds near the river or you can go backpacking if you have a permit from Glacier National Park.
If you’re looking for lakes in Montana that offer something for everyone, then this list of the best lakes in Montana should be helpful. From lakes with great camping to lakes perfect for fishing and other activities like power boating or water skiing, there’s a lake on this list that will suit your needs! If you want to learn more about one particular type of lake (i.e., best lakes to swim), we recommend checking out our list of all types and locations of lakes in Montana.