The Clearest Lake in Montana Almost Looks Fake

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Sunset reflecting in the crystal clear Flathead Lake in Montana

Drive to Flathead Lake near Kalispell for an experience that will wash away your concerns about pollution and give you a scenic recharge. The clearest lake in Montana pulls out all the stops. It reflects the mountains in its pristine waters.

You can take a boat trip to one of several islands or cast your line for a day of fishing. You’ll see your catch long before it breaks water!

Keep reading to learn more about the clearest lake in Montana. Shall we dive in?

Where Is the Clearest Water in Montana? 

Located 30 miles southwest of Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake has the clearest water in Montana. Being so close to the national park influences the water’s transparency because limited people contribute to water pollution. Other factors include low amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen, the nutrients that promote algae growth.

About Flathead Lake

Glaciers created this natural lake in northwestern Montana millions of years ago. Fed by the Flathead River, workers completed a dam in 1930, raising the water level ten feet.

Today, Flathead Lake is 30 miles long and 16 feet wide, with an average depth of 164 feet. This gives it a larger surface area than Lake Tahoe but less volume, as Tahoe is much deeper.

Join some campers as they explore Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park.

Flathead Lake lies between two mountain ranges, the Mission Mountains and the Salish Mountains, sitting seven miles south of the town of Kalispell. Several islands are in the lake, including Wildhorse Island, Melita, Dream, Goose, and Mother-in-Law Islands.

With an unusually mild climate for a location so far north, the region hosts fruit orchards and vineyards, and vegetable and wheat crops routinely grow around the lake.

Where Is the Clearest Part of Flathead Lake? 

The lake has crystal clear water, and you can see at least 20 feet down. But the pristine waters are even more astounding on the south end of the lake at Salish Point.

There are numerous access sites around the shore for boating, fishing, and swimming in this idyllic body of water. There’s much to do in the clearest lake in Montana!

The sun shines onto the clearest lake in Montana, Flathead Lake, with snow capped mountains in the distance.

Where Is the Best View of Flathead Lake?

It’s best to view Flathead Lake from its western shore. West Shore State Park offers a short hike to a stunning lookout point, where you are treated “with sweeping views of Flathead Lake under the shadow of the Mission Mountains,” according to AshBernadette.

Frommers states that “The best scenery of all is that overlooking the Flathead Lake from the highway (US 93) between Big Arm and Rollins, on the western shore.”

A waterfront restaurant with chairs and tables on a deck overlooking Flathead Lake.

What Lives in Flathead Lake? 

Anglers flock to Flathead Lake to reel in all kinds of fish. The species native to the lake include cutthroat and bull trout, northern pikeminnow, and mountain whitefish.

Those non-native species are numerous, including brown, lake, brook, golden, rainbow, and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. The lake also has large and smallmouth bass, Kokanee salmon, northern pike, yellow perch, and sturgeon.

Some have reported sightings of Montana’s version of Nessie in the lake. The shadowy monster famous for haunting Loch Ness, Scotland, seems to have a twin in the states.

According to legend, people have spotted “Flessie” in Flathead Lake for more than one thousand years. She doesn’t seem to mind sharing the clear waters with human visitors. She stands as a reminder that this lake is a remarkable resource to protect and enjoy. 

Can You Swim in Flathead Lake in Montana? 

You can swim, but beware! The waters come from melting glaciers and snowpack, so they are cold even in the summer. Salish Point has a roped-off swim beach, so there will be no intrusion by watercraft, but there are no amenities at the beach.

You can bring picnic lunches, and consider wearing an insulated wetsuit while swimming! Finley Point State Park and Yellow Bay State Park lie along the shoreline and provide swimming areas for children and pets, as well. 

A swimming ladder hangs off of a dock in Flathead Lake.

What Is the Clearest Lake in the World?

Blue Lake on New Zealand’s South Island is the clearest lake in the world. It lies within Nelson Lakes National Park and comes from another glacial lake, Lake Constance.

Blue Lake is remote and takes government approval to visit. The Maori people consider it sacred, so even when you can stop by, you cannot swim.

The lake and its water are highly secure, likely keeping Blue Lake with the most transparent water in the world!

Traveler’s Tip: You need to see this Fruity Pebble Lake in Montana!

Is It Worth Visiting the Clearest Lake in Montana?

For a getaway that will not only recharge your batteries but give you a glimpse into nature’s wonders, a visit to the clearest lake in Montana should be on your “Must See” list. Flathead Lake offers relaxing, laid-back tranquility.

Travelers will also find great eateries, plenty of enticing outdoor activities, and an enthralling look at our most important resource in its natural state. What will you do at Flathead Lake?

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