If you’re looking for a beach vacation off the beaten path, consider visiting Montana. You might be surprised to find that the state has some fantastic beaches, and they’re better than anything Florida has to offer. From pristine shores to dramatic cliffs, Montana has something for everyone.
So if you’re tired of the crowds and want to explore somewhere new, head to one of these incredible beaches in Montana.
Are There Any Beaches in Montana?
Not many people think about beaches when they think of Montana, but there are several throughout the state. And these beaches are worth visiting!
Most of the beaches in Montana are along the western portion of the state, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains. The beaches are also relatively wild, so you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from civilization. If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy nature, then a beach trip in Montana is worth the drive.
Can You Swim in Lakes in Montana?
Montana may conjure images of icy mountain lakes. With the Rocky Mountains, Bitterroot Mountains, Mission Mountains, and more, it should. However, because many of Montana’s lakes feature majestic mountain ranges doesn’t mean you can’t swim in them.
Montana’s lakes are some of the most pristine in the nation, offering some of the best swimming. While many beaches may be more rocky than sandy, the cool waters are refreshing. Whether you’re polar plunging or cooling off during the height of summer, swimming in Montana’s lakes should be a bucket list item for anyone looking to get closer to the Treasure State.
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The Best Beaches in Montana
Although many associate a beach with coastlines, there are several beaches in Montana. One of the most popular beaches is Flathead Lake. Another is within Glacier National Park, and more are in state and city parks. All are shores that you may love more than Florida’s beaches.
Lake McDonald Beach
Address: 64 Grinnell Drive, Glacier National Park Headquarters, West Glacier, MT
Apgar Lodge and Campground areas coming in from West Glacier are the first access points to Lake McDonald. Beaches are along the many pull-offs on the main road, Going to the Sun Road.
About: Lake McDonald is an iconic lake along Going to the Sun Road (GTSR) within Glacier National Park’s borders. Surrounded by 25 glaciers in the Rocky Mountains, you won’t find warm waters on this beach in Montana, but you will find stunning views, pristine water, and a swimming experience like nothing you’ve seen.
With many areas to explore along the shores of this 10-mile-long lake, it’s easy to access several beaches while driving the famous GTSR. However, the beaches aren’t soft and sandy like Florida shores, which can get crowded during peak times. Still, the clear glacial waters and epic views are worth spending a day or two here.
While Lake McDonald can get busy, many places around the lake aren’t crowded. If you’re looking for lodges with all the amenities and water sports, you’ll also find more people. If you’re looking for a serene spot to relax on your own, wander off the beaten path. Don’t forget the bear spray. People visit Glacier and Lake McDonald for the beach, but they also stay with hopes of catching a glimpse of a bear.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: The crisp mountain air, pristine water, forested lands, and towering mountains make Lake McDonald Beach better than any Florida beach.
Flathead Lake State Park Beach
Address: The southernmost unit is near Polson, Finley Point unit at 31453 S. Finley Point Rd., Finley Pt., MT. The northernmost unit is near Bigfork, Wayfarers unit at 8600 Montana Hwy 35, Bigfork, MT.
About: Flathead Lake State Park consists of six units along the shoreline of Flathead Lake. With a shoreline of 161 miles, it is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, offering many beach locations to enjoy while visiting Montana.
The east side parks consist of Wayfarers, Yellow Bay, and Finley Point. The west side parks include West Shore, Big Arm, and Wild Horse Island.
Each unit has unique characteristics, but all have gorgeous views, creating unforgettable beach memories. Flathead Lake State Park is excellent for relaxing, swimming, paddle boarding, boating, and fishing. All but Wild Horse Island allow camping.
On the east side, Wayfarers is mere minutes from the quaint lakeside town of Bigfork, giving you beach and town fun. Finley Point is in demand for its location at the southern end of the lake, close to the charming town of Polson. Wayfarers and Finley Point are prominent vacation spots for their easy access to swimming and town entertainment. Yellow Bay offers quiet camping and peaceful waters.
On the west side, Wild Horse Island is only accessible by boat, but the trip is worth the time. You might catch a glimpse of the horses and mountain goats that call this beach island home. Big Arm has a long pebble beach with many colorful stones. West Shore provides views of the Mission, and Swan Mountain ranges along its rocky shores.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: The beauty and experience you want from any of the six units in this state park is by far what makes this better than any Florida beach. Whatever you choose, you’ll love the scent of pine trees, the quiet lapping of waves, and the setting sun.
Address: 830 Manley Rd, Bozeman, MT
About: Bozeman Beach is in Glen Lake Rotary Park, next to the East Gallatin River in Bozeman. It is an excellent place to enjoy the activities that come with a day at the beach.
The sand is soft, and the water is refreshing, making it the perfect place for swimming, sunbathing, paddle boarding, beach volleyball, and more. The beach is also conveniently next to a brewery so that you can enjoy a cold beer after a long day in the sun.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: Featuring the lush green pines that define western Montana and on the edge of town where you can find all the amenities for your visit, this beach is incredible!
A beach like this in Florida would be crowded with people on a hot summer day. Not this beach. It’s a true hidden gem tucked away in a quaint Montana town.
Brush Lake State Park Beach
Address: 1733 Brush Lake Rd., Dagmar, MT
About: Brush Lake State Park Beach is a 60-foot deep, 280-acre lake in the northeast corner of Montana. The mile-long lake has open spaces and plains along its shores, making it an ideal spot for camping, swimming, boating, and wildlife viewing.
Brush Lake has deep, clear water and white sandy beaches. Visitors can enjoy the lush green fields and wheat swaying in the summer while enjoying the views. The Brush Lake State Park Beach is an extraordinary place to enjoy the outdoors and experience the beauty of the Montana plains.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: This lake can be more ocean-like than lake-like due to its high alkalinity. Combine that with its sandy beaches and clear waters, and it’s like taking a beach straight out of Florida and placing it in the open prairies of Montana. It has all the beauty of a Florida beach and the glamour of Montana, without all the people.
Whitefish City Beach
Address: 70 Lakeside Blvd., Whitefish, MT
About: Whitefish City Beach is an ideal place to spend a summer day. The seven-mile-long glacial lake in northwest Montana offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Many activities keep you busy, including a boat launch, kayaking, paddle boarding rentals and lessons, and swimming.
If you get hungry, many concessions are available, such as ice cream, hot dogs, and lemonade. Whether you’re looking to relax on the shoreline or explore the lake, Whitefish City Beach is the perfect destination.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: Whitefish City Beach is better than a Florida beach. You can find everything you love about a traditional beach, including a sandy shoreline and beachside concessions.
Still, you’ll also find a considerable character on the beach and nearby Whitefish. This quaint little town has excellent shopping and dining options. If you’re looking for more adventure, Whitefish Mountain Resort is right next door.
Cooney State Park Beach
Address: 86 Lake Shore Rd., Roberts, MT
About: Cooney State Park Beach is a recreation area in south-central Montana, 40 minutes south of Billings. The park offers fishing, boating, camping, hiking, biking, and swimming. If you’re looking for more adventurous water sports, you’ll find that here, too. Sports like boating, windsurfing, sailing, and water-skiing are popular activities on this beach in Montana.
Cooney State Park is open year-round and offers various activities for the whole family, including wildlife viewing, bird watching, or relaxing on the shores of Cooney Reservoir.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: What makes this beach better than a Florida beach is that while it can get busy, it will never be as active as Florida beaches. Also, it’s minutes away from Billings, so you can escape city life and be on the shores of Cooney Reservoir in no time.
Boettcher Park Beach
Address: 31 Country Club Dr., Polson, MT
About: Sitting in northwest Montana on the southern tip of Flathead Lake in Polson, Montana, this Montana beach offers crystal clear waters, majestic mountain views, and no crowds.
Like every other beach in Montana, there are no jellyfish, either. Nor sharks, for that matter. This is an excellent beach for families due to its roped-off swimming area, nearby concessions, and ample open space for pure enjoyment.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Being at the southern tip of it, you’ll experience expansive views that you won’t find anywhere, even in Florida.
Black Sandy State Park Beach
Address: 6563 Hauser Dam Rd., Helena, MT
About: Black Sandy State Park is on the shores of Hauser Reservoir near Helena in central Montana. It is an incredible place to enjoy all that Montana’s beaches offer. The campground is on the water, with many amenities, including an RV dump station and electric hookups for RVs.
The reservoir is excellent for boating, fishing, and swimming, and there are many hiking and mountain biking trails in the area. Black Sandy State Park is a popular spot, but there are still many open spaces to explore. It’s the perfect getaway for anyone who loves the outdoors.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: There aren’t many beaches, if any, in Florida that give you views of rolling hills and open spaces.
This Montana beach has precisely that. While it is quite the destination for travelers in the summer, it is a leisurely respite from the summer heat without the flashiness surrounding beaches in Florida.
Mystic Lake Beach
Address: Mystic Lake Trailhead starts at W. Rosebud Lake Rd., Fishtail, MT
About: The hike to Mystic Lake Beach highlights why Montana’s beaches are better than Florida’s. A 2.5-mile round trip moderate hike will whisk you away to a remote body of water that offers scenery unique to Montana.
Resting in south-central Montana near the tiny community of Roscoe, Mystic Lake is the deepest and most substantial lake in the Beartooth Mountains. The cold water is refreshing, and the surrounding mountains are stunning.
Mystic Lake is an excellent place to swim, fish, or go backcountry camping. The lake is full of trout, so anglers will have plenty of luck. The hike to the campsites is worth it for the breathtaking views. So come to Mystic Lake Montana and enjoy all that nature offers at this unique beach in Montana. And don’t forget the bear spray!
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: Florida’s beaches are gorgeous because of their soft white sand, but they can’t compete with the views of the Beartooth Mountains surrounding this rocky beach. When you have mountain views, do you need soft sand? We think not.
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Address: Trail of the Cedars Trailhead in Glacier National Park will take you to Avalanche Beach.
About: Avalanche Beach is a beautiful spot in Glacier National Park, 5.5 miles east of Lake McDonald on Going to the Sun Road. The lake sits at the foot of the 8,694-foot Bearhat Mountain, and it’s a perfect place to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Accessing this Montana mountain beach is via hike-to terrain only. It is a moderate loop hike totaling 4.5 miles. The scenery is stunning, with densely forested lands, lush moss and ferns, and gorges full of rushing waters. Bears can frequent this area, so remember the bear spray.
When you reach the beach, you’ll find a rocky shoreline and serene surroundings. Swimming is an option, and if you choose to do so, be prepared for cold, invigorating waters. Whether swimming or breathing in the fresh air, It’s the perfect place to unwind and enjoy the scenery.
What Makes It Better Than a Florida Beach: The answer to this question is quite simple. It’s in Glacier National Park, and the views are second to none. While you won’t be lazing your hours away in the cold glacial waters, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy every moment of this stunningly beautiful Montana lake. You won’t find anything like this in Florida.
Is It Worth Visiting a Beach in Montana?
No matter what beach you’re looking for, Montana has something to offer. If you want the typical white sand and blue water beach experience, many beaches will fit that bill. But if you’re looking for a unique Montana beach experience, we have those, too.
With majestic mountains overlooking rocky beaches and pristine glacial waters, Montana offers some of the most beautiful and diverse beaches in the country. So next time you’re planning a summer vacation, don’t forget about the beaches in Montana. They might be worth choosing over Florida’s!
Which Montana beach will you visit first?