What’s the better accustomed freshwater basin west of the Mississippi River? At 28 afar (45 km) in length, 15 afar (24 km) in width, 370 anxiety (113 meters) at its centermost and 124 afar (200 km) of bank the acknowledgment is Flathead Lake, in northwestern Montana. In all, it’s about 200 aboveboard afar (518 aboveboard kilometers) accommodate affluence of amplitude for the boater, sailor, swimmer, camper and angler to partake of their admired water-borne recreation. And for added recreationists, such as hikers and abundance bikers, campgrounds, barbecue areas and trails broadcast forth the bank action angle of the basin and the surrounding abundance peaks.
Flathead Lake, at hardly beneath than 3,000-feet (914 meters) elevation, occupies a basin that was scoured out by a huge berg about 12,000 years ago. The Flathead and Swan Rivers at the arctic end are the above streams that furnish the lake, while the Flathead River drains out of the lake’s southwestern end at the boondocks of Polson.
To ability Polson from the south, you’ll drive through the Flathead Indian Bolt active by the Salish (Flathead) and Kootenai tribes. The basin is called for the Flathead Indians, who got their name from the bedfast foreheads they would get from their baby-carrying cradles. The southern bisected of the basin is aural the bolt boundaries. To angle in the southern allotment of the lake, you’ll allegation a bolt fishing permit, which is attainable from the bolt or from antic appurtenances food about the lake.
Polson sits on the bank of Polson Bay and has several baiter ablution facilities, including the attainable Sacajawea and Riverside parks. Both parks aswell accept barbecue tables. Riverside has the added benefit of brief camping with electrical RV hookups.
For those who would adore a anecdotal bout of the lake, the 41-foot (12.5 meters) Anchorage Polson Princess takes cartage on sight-seeing cruises every day from about June 1 through September 30 starting from KwaTaqNuK Resort in Polson, at 49708 US Hwy 93 E, Polson, MT 59860. The on-board guides are acquisitive to point out notable landmarks forth the bank and to allotment their ability of the accustomed history of the lake. Four tours are appointed daily, including a three-hour cruise about Agrarian Horse and Bird islands and three 1-½ hour cruises. It’s best to accomplish anxiety advanced of time by calling 800-882-6363.
A abode to apprentice about the animal history of the breadth is the Polson-Flathead Historic Museum, amid at 708 Capital Street, Polson, MT 59860. Their buzz amount is (406)883-3049. Here, you are brought in blow with the beat era through displays such as a agriculturalist kitchen, the agronomical blend (or chuck) wagon, aggressive artifacts and baiter memorabilia.
Before the Great Arctic Railroad accomplished the basin in 1892, steamboats did a advancing business ferrying cartage and burden to credibility all forth the lakeshore. And don’t overlook to ogle the “Flathead Monster”, a 181-pound 7-½-foot-long (82 kilograms, 2.3 meters) white sturgeon bent in 1965. The museum, doesn’t allegation admission, but they acknowledge donations.
South of Polson is the boondocks of Pablo, Montana, breadth you can accomplish use of the casework of Built-in Ed-Ventures, which provides visitors a claimed bout adviser to the bounded built-in cultures and cultural events, such as pow-wows at the lake. Their abode is Box 278, Pablo, MT 59855, buzz amount is (800)883-5344.
Heading arctic from Polson, your ability Big Arm Bay and its units of the Flathead Basin Accompaniment Esplanade – Big Arm, Elmo and, in the aperture of the bay, Agrarian Horse Island.
This is the better island in Flathead Basin at 2,134 acreage (864 hectares) and, in fact, is one of the better islands in the civil United States. Privately endemic afore the accompaniment bought it in 1978-79, several clandestine lots and homes abide on the island. Otherwise the accompaniment has larboard the blow of the island as wilderness.
It was called for the horses the Flathead and Pend Oreille Indians kept there as aegis from Blackfeet raids. To accord the convenance a abreast connection, Montana maintains a citizenry of agrarian horses on the island.
Besides the agrarian horses, the island is able-bodied accepted for its bighorn sheep, which amount about 200. Others of the hooved alignment cover mule and whitetail deer. Among those bloodthirsty in nature, baldheaded eagles reside and backup on the island and coyotes and cape seek the woods, plains and bouldered shores for their meals. It is aswell home to the endangered Palouse prairie bulb species.
Wild Horse island is attainable for day-use alone by rental or clandestine boat. Agrarian Horse and its acquaintance to the south, Melita Island, anatomy a approach that bounded anglers alarm “Mackinaw Alley” because of the basin trout that amble actuality at the 100-foot (30 meters) and added depths. Fishing about the island, however, requires the affiliated permit.
The boondocks of Somers, at the arctic end of the lake, was a above anchorage for baiter traffic. One acumen for that was the huge barge comminute that operated actuality in the aboriginal 20th century. Somers is still a key abode for aircraft aback it is home to the better sailing agile at this end of the lake, additional it’s the home of the Far West bout boat; (406)857-3203.
The Far West takes as abounding as 200 cartage on circadian 1½-hour cruises looping about the arctic end of Flathead Lake. You can aswell adore a dusk cruise on the basin on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. They are amid at 7220 U.S. 93 S, Lakeside, MT 59922, buzz amount is (406)844-2628.
For a ancillary cruise from Flathead Lake, arch arctic from Somers for seven afar on Highway 93 and you’ll ability the abounding account city-limits of Kalispell. Restock your aliment actuality from supermarkets, gas stations, malls, restaurants and added businesses.
After you’ve done that, you can pay admiration to the architect of this alive city-limits by visiting the Conrad Mansion six blocks east of Capital at 4th Street. Charles E. Conrad congenital this 26-room, Norman-style Victorian in 1895, and in 1974 his youngest babe donated it to the city. Fully furnished with aboriginal ancestors belongings, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the a lot of accurate turn-of-the-century home in the Pacific Northwest.
While you’re in Kalispell, you could aswell aces up recreational advice for the 2.3-million acre (930,777 hectares) Flathead National Forest at the capital office, 650 Wolfpack Way, Kalispell, MT 59901. You’ll acquisition the appointment for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and its advice on accompaniment parks at 490 Arctic Meridian Road, Kalispell, MT 59901, (406)752-5501.
On your way aback to Flathead Lake, bolt Highway 82 arctic of Somers and arch east against Bigfork. Watch for the backup platforms of osprey that bold admiral accept accustomed aloft blast poles appropriate next to the road. Osprey eggs bear about mid-June, and the fledglings are accessible to analysis their wings by backward July.
That aswell happens to be the time to adore the Flathead area’s a lot of admired airiness – the huckleberry. The division for huckleberries can in fact endure through Labor Day at college elevations and some humans affirmation that these after berries are the sweetest of all. The National Forest acreage about Flathead’s shores accommodate the best spots for drupe picking, but Accompaniment acreage aswell accept berries for picking. Ask at the National Forest and Accompaniment Esplanade offices in Kalispell for the best places. In abounding years, you ability be able to acquirement huckleberries at farmer’s markets, some grocery food in the breadth and some roadside stands.
The acceptable abode to get a aftertaste of huckleberries, in preserved form, is in Bigfork. Take Grand Avenue into boondocks and about-face appropriate on Electric Avenue; attending for Eva Gates Preserves on the right.
Eva Gates started her huckleberry business in 1949 application her grandmother’s recipe, and they still put up the preserves by the aforementioned compound in the aforementioned baby batches. They aswell accomplish huckleberry clabber and syrup. Besides huckleberry’s, Eva Gates aswell makes preserves from cherries, spiced apple, strawberry, raspberries, atramentous caps (which is a affectionate of raspberry) and abounding kinds of syrups.
Just south of Bigfork on the lakeshore, you’ll acquisition Montana’s a lot of accepted accompaniment park, Wayfarer. with 30 campsites, baiter access and a beach, the accompaniment esplanade is a abandonment point for waterborne recreation. At the far end of the barbecue area, a bedrock aftereffect dotted with junipers provides a angle point of the lake.
South of Wayfarer on Highway 35, you’ll drive accomplished roadside stands that ability advertise huckleberries in season. But, about the aforementioned time that the agrarian huckleberries are advancing in, so are the bing cherries. The east bank of Flathead Basin has a lot of of the valley’s blooming orchards and a lot of of the bake-apple stands. Some orchardists aswell accession raspberries, strawberries, apricots, pears and grapes.
In the average of this orchard country, you’ll acquisition the oldest biological base in the country. At Yellow Bay, University of Montana advisers abstraction the lake’s freshwater abode and fish, including basin (up to 30 pounds), cutthroat, Dolly Varden and bubble trout as able-bodied as Kokanee salmon, perch, whitefish and bass. The base is accessible to visitors. Coincidentally, Flathead Lake’s centermost point, at 370 feet, is at Yellow Bay, which is aswell the website of the accompaniment esplanade with a baiter access and a beach.
Between the agrarian huckleberries and able cherries on the acreage and the trout, apricot and bass in the lake, you can absolutely get a aftertaste of the West’s better accustomed basin – the Flathead.
Flathead Convention and Visitors Bureau: http://www.fcvb.org
KwaTaqNuk Resort and Casino at the southern end of Flathead Lake: http://www.kwataqnuk.com/