Boating

Somers Beach State Park

Somers Beach State Park

Somers Beach State Park

Over the past decade, the Sliter family and the Montana State Parks Foundation have been working together to conserve and create public access at their property east of Somers, encompassing almost a half-mile of Flathead Lake shoreline.

This rare property has an expansive sandy beach at low lake levels, and at higher lake levels, its shallow waters provide a safe area for families to swim and recreate.

It also has impressive beauty with views of the Swan Mountains and miles of undeveloped shoreline.

Montana’s newest state park has been proposed for this spectacular site.

Somers Beach State Park

The Sliter Family generously promised a $100k matching grant for the creation of our newest state park, totaling to $200,000!

Along with our matching grant, Everit and Nikki Sliter have made a pledge of $25k, raising our match requirement to $125k, with an overall total of $250,000 if we make our match!

Although much of the north shore is public land, as part of the Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area, the WPA is closed to human use between March and July each year to protect migrating and nesting birds.

The park opened in the summer of 2021. Minimal amenities will be available at first but your donations and support will help us build a great park from the ground up. In the meantime, please understand that the park remains private until the final real estate sale is complete. We'll continue to post updates on our website and social media pages, so stay tuned.

We couldn't have done it without you! Locals submitted over 250 letters showing overwhelming support for the property to become a future state park.

Although Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the western U.S., there are currently only 13 public access sites along its 185 miles of shoreline.

As a state park, these public lands will help permanently conserve wildlife habitat while continuing to allow public recreation.

Please consider donating to the park today or becoming a sponsor of a featured park email.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

“In order to protect this special place from future private development, conserve the wetlands and bird habitat, and secure much needed new public access on Flathead Lake, we feel a state park offers our best opportunity to do so." - Paul Travis, Executive Director of Flathead Land Trust

“Our family’s long-term intention for this special property has been to find a solution that conserves the shoreline and offers safe public access." - Andrea Sliter Goudge

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    Park

    Closed March - July to human use 

Smith River State Park

Smith River State Park

Smith River State Park

Smith River State Park

The Smith River is mostly known for being a wonderful 59-mile long river full of natural beauty, with great boating, fishing, and photographic opportunities.

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Looking to float?

Permits to float the river are highly sought after and distributed through a lottery system similar to hunting licenses for certain big game species in Montana.
The due date for permit applications is February 13th! Its the perfect Valentine's day gift for that river loving partner of yours!

If you weren't lucky enough to win a permit during the annual lottery system, you can still enjoy the Smith River by visiting Camp Baker west of White Sulphur Springs or Eden Bridge 59 miles downriver and just short drive south of Great Falls.

At Camp Baker, you'll find a campground with primitive campsites, latrine facilities, and a busy boat ramp for the lucky folks who won launch permits.

After the floating parties have launched for the day Camp Baker becomes quiet for a few hours and visitors will enjoy great access for fishing, birdwatching, and even swimming in the summer months.

At the other end of the park is Eden Bridge, the normal take out for Smith River float trips. Eden Bridge is a minimally developed day-use site with latrine facilities, a boat ramp, and day-use access to the river.

While there are few amenities at Eden Bridge, it does make for a nice day trip destination from Great Falls where visitors have a chance to spend time on the banks of one of Montana's most iconic waterways. The float season varies widely depending on snow-pack, rainfall and the amount and timing of irrigation.

The “typical” float season runs from mid-April through mid-July, with occasional floating opportunities in September and October.

Many find Smith River State Park a place of peace because a permit is required to float the Smith River. This permit requirement means visitors can expect to have a quality, multi-day float with relative solitude and excellent trout fishing opportunities.

Of course, you don't need a permit to access the campground and enjoy all the natural splendor of the area.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Lots of fun things to see and imagine. Have fun exploring, we did."

"My favorite vacation to date."

"The trip was absolutely perfect for our honeymoon! Protect the Smith!"

"Luckily we can still do this, best therapy around!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    791 Clear Range Road White Sulpher Springs, MT 59645

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Located along the Clark Fork River between Thompson Falls Dam and Noxon Dam, Thompson Falls State Park is surrounded by a mature and a mixed conifer forest making for a tranquil and quiet destination.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to hike or fish?

Ready to hike away your day? Thompson Falls Trail runs along the Clark Fork River and connects to the Montana Highway 200 into the town of Thompson Falls where you’ll find the Thompson Falls Community Trails network.

Pike and bass are the most common species fished out of Thompson Falls State Park, but you may find a surprise species if you’re lucky!

While fishing and hiking are popular in Thompson Falls, this state park is used mostly for camping and picnicking. Host to 18 sites and a group picnic area, this riverside campground is great for tent or RV camping, but make sure your trailer is no more than 30 feet!

The Thompson Chain of Lakes includes 18 lakes and stretches 20 miles! Families will love the improved fishing pond which includes an accessible fishing pier, picnic shelter, bathroom and improved parking.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Nice place to camp along Clark Fork River. Beautiful view from the back of our site along the river. Camp was quiet and bathrooms were clean."

"Plenty of camping and picnic spots, along with a boat launch. Long stretches of Sandy Beach along the river for swimming. We enjoyed kayaking, as well! We come every year for a big family campout!"

"This place is so beautiful! The trail is right on the river. My children absolutely loved it! My 5 year especially loved the lake with all the turtles. This is a great place to eat lunch and go for a short hike."

"A great place to camp!! Will definitely go back."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Gates Open

    April 27 - September 30

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    Gates Closed

    October 2 - April 26

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    Campground

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    2220 Blue Slide Rd. Thompson Falls, MT 59873

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Salmon Lake State Park

Salmon Lake State Park

Salmon Lake State Park

Tucked between the Mission and Swan Mountain Ranges along the Clearwater River you’ll find Salmon Lake State Park, a great park for camping and water recreation.  Salmon Lake became a state park in December of 1977.  

A memorial plaque near the park's center explains how the Salmon Lake State Park was a gift from the Champion Timberland Corps and is meant to serve as an honor to three foresters who died in a plane crash in 1976.

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Looking to visit?

Fall is one of the best times to visit the park. The reflection of colorful Western Larch trees in the lake makes for a breathtaking view! 

The forests surrounding the lake are home to many Western Larch trees which are unique as they are one of only a few species of deciduous coniferous trees, meaning that they change color and shed their foliage in the fall like broadleaf trees.  

  • Fish in Salmon Lake or Clearwater River for a variety of trout, largemouth bass, white mountain whitefish, kokanee salmon, yellow perch and northern pike. 
  • Go birdwatching and see if you can spot any red-necked grebes, great blue herons, bald eagles, waterfowl, osprey or common loons. 
  • Enjoy the gravel beach and take a dip in the lake. 
  • Take a hike along the shoreline or through the forest on one of the many trails. 
  • Enjoy the lake in a canoe, kayak or on water-skis if you’re a bit more adventurous. 
  • Plus so much more!

A beautiful forest of Western Larch, Ponderosa Pine, and Douglas-Fir surround the campsite, which includes 23 paved sites with electrical hookups.

The campsite host can provide ideas for activities and will have firewood for sale!

This campsite has become so popular in the last few years, reservations are recommended to be sure you don’t miss out!

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"I love this park. They have a couple of camp spots that right on the water and it's gorgeous. They also have some really nice spots that are up on a hill overlooking the lake with nature trails that lead to an island! There are even a couple of hiker/biker spots for $8 a night. Seriously, this is one of my favorite camp spots in the area."

"Great campground, nice camp host, amenities were what the website stated. Will be back!"

"Great lake to swim, paddle, and boat!"

"I’ve fished this lake probably around three hundred times and I just keep coming back. I fish mostly northern pike and it’s rare that I go home empty handed. The boat launch is above average and they’ve recently added a no swimming sign to the dock which is beneficial and safer for me as a boatsmen. There is a separate swimming area. It also has a covered area for picnics, clean restrooms, and amble parking for single cars."

 

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    Park

    Off-Season

    November 1 - April 30

    Closed to all motorized traffic, walk-in only. Day-use only, no overnight camping. 

    Peak Season

    Open Summer through Late October

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    Location

    2329 Hwy. 83 N Seeley Lake, MT 59868

Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park is located outside of Missoula, MT near Seeley Lake, MT. Placid Lake State Park is open year-round with extensive outdoor recreation options in the summer months, including fishing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking – just to name a few.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

WPS 2021 Placid Lake
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Looking to camp?

Lake Placid State Park is a great option if you’re looking to camp! WIth 40 campsites and recently added showers and laundry facilities, this state park provides a taste of the great outdoors without having to stray too far from the comforts of home. 

With over 40,000 visitors each summer, Placid Lake State Park is one of the busiest state parks.

 

The forest around the lake was once in logging territory and what were once roads used to haul trees and equipment are now used as hiking and mountain biking trails. You can learn more about the history of the area through the interpretive panels along the trails.

Planning to bring your boat? You can rent a boat slip on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Did you know the Montana State Parks Foundation’s specialty license plate is a painting of this state park by Missoula artist, Monte Dolack, entitled “Placid Lake Sunset”?

And that every dollar from license plate sales help to fund the Foundation's work and is available at your local DMV anywhere in the state.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"The lake was amazing, the surrounding area breathtaking and the road to get there was well maintained. The campgrounds were clean and so were the restrooms. I am already planning my next visit to Placid Lake."

"Pure heaven if you are looking for a place to boat, camp, hike, pick huckleberries, bike ride, or fish. Just a few ideas for an amazing getaway. The lake is beautiful, warm and not extremely large. You can pick huckleberries right off the main roads in the summer.. Go explore and visit this little gem in Montana."

"Really awesome state park campground. We'll definitely be back. Amenities are great including hot showers and clean facilities. The swim beach is great for young kids and the access to the lake is great."

"Beautiful park to kayak, picnic and swim."

 

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    Off-Season Hours

    December 1 - April 30

    Closed to all motorized traffic, walk-in only.

    Day-use only, no overnight camping.

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    Peak Season Hours

    May 22 - November 30

    7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

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    Campground

    Open Year-Round

Pirogue-Island-State-Park

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park just a mile north of Miles City, Montana, a little more than two hours from Billings, Montana by way of Interstate 94, and on the north side of a bend in the Yellowstone River.

In addition to extensive hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing, the island is a possible site where the Corps of Discovery and Capt. Clark camped in 1806 on the return voyage of their famous expedition.

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Looking to hike?

For visitors who enjoy hiking, Pirogue Island features 2.8 miles of designated hiking trails with interpretive signs offering insights on the history and wildlife of the island. Looking for more than 2.8 miles? You’re in luck!

As a very level site, visitors will find an easy walk throughout the 269 acres and when the water isn’t flowing, visitors can take a walk along the tree-shaded side channels and wade through the pools of water that form during hot weather.

The island boasts prominent plant life with more than 140 species of plants including a healthy population of cottonwood trees, peach-leaf willow, green ash, and red-osier dogwood.

An isolated, cottonwood-covered island located on the Yellowstone River, Pirogue Island State Park is an excellent location for enjoying the natural beauty of Montana. While wading through channels of the Yellowstone River is the most popular way to get to Pirogue Island, others stop by as they float down the river.

Pirogue Island State Park is 500 miles from where the Yellowstone River begins south of Yellowstone National Park and 170 miles from where it ends near Williston, North Dakota.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Growing up in this area I never discovered this until I went back and visited. There is a great trail (about 6 miles) that takes you all around the park and next to the river."

"Good spot for hunting and fishing"

"I love the walking trail and having the chance to see wildlife."

"Great place to view"

 

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    Park

    Day use only

    Open year-round, 7 am to 10 pm.

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    Location

    Miles City, MT 59301

    Travel north on 59N to the Kinsey Rd/Hwy 489.
    Turn right and follow for 2 miles to the turnoff for Pirogue Island State Park.
    Parking and amenities are at the end of the road.

Yellow Bay State Park

Yellow Bay State Park

Yellow Bay State Park

One of the six state parks located on Flathead Lake, Yellow Bay is an excellent destination for tent campers!

To get there, visitors will take a drive along the beautiful, winding MT HWY 35 amidst cherry, pear and apple orchards.

As you pass through, remember to stop and explore the local orchards. They offer fresh fruit as well as guided tours!

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Looking to camp?

Regardless of the water level, boaters usually have no problems putting their boats in at Yellow Bay due to the steepness of its ramp. There are 5 tent campsites, and they are first-come, first-served, so be sure to arrive early to claim your spot!

Yellow Bay Creek flows through the park near the campsites, providing a peaceful sound of cascading water to fall asleep to.
The University of Montana has a renowned Biological station there.

They are the second oldest biological field station in the US and the oldest west of the Mississippi River. They have one of the oldest, contiguous lake data sets in the world.

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    Be on the lookout for birds and plentiful wildlife.

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    Spend a day on the open water boating, canoeing, kayaking or water skiing.

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    A joint tribal/state license will allow you to fish for lake trout.

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    Take a dip in the chilly water.

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    Take a look at what’s under the surface of the water and go scuba diving.

They are currently building an erosion-resistant beach on their portion of the property. They also offer regular community and family activities year round.

Don’t forget to grab fresh fruit from roadside stands or go picking at an orchard during the summer months!

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Nice small park tucked away from the heavy traffic of some of the larger parks. Spacious boat launch and a large area to let your water dogs enjoy the lake. Lots of picnic tables- sun and shade. Free day use for Montana residents."

"Clean and cute campground with a camp host and lake access. Plenty of picnic tables and a picnic shelter. Bathroom was clean and stocked with TP and soap."

"Very nice park facing south. We had sun all day. Park Host was very helpful and doing a great job of keeping up with the park. Restrooms had running water and they were clean! No showers but was a hose to wash off after swimming, a must in late summer when swimmers itches is more common. No kids toys but water, rocks, small creek, plenty to do. Enjoyed it very much!"

"Best campground at the lake's shore. Good boat ramp and plenty room to tie boats to shore."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Campground 

    Tent Camping Only.
    Not maintained for winter use.

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    Additional Information

    Water available mid-May to Labor Day.
    Dock available mid-March through November.
    A joint state/tribal fishing license is required at this park.

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    Location

    23861 MT HWY 35 Bigfork, MT 59911

Wild Horse Island State Park 1

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Located on Flathead Lake, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake west of Minnesota.

Accessible only by boat, Wild Horse Island has six boat landing sites, but visitors are welcome to pull their boats to shore on any of the public beach sites.

While most of the island is a state park, be aware as there is still private shoreline, therefore visitors are prohibited from using the boat docks.

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Looking to hike?

Due to the variety of wildlife, Wild Horse Island does not allow camping, pets or bikes as they may spook the animals. Fires and smoking are prohibited anywhere on the island.

What can you do at Wild Horse Island? The question is, what can’t you do?! You can:
Take a hike! The island has four miles of interconnected hiking trails, but visitors are free to explore off-trail as well.

  • Try and catch your dinner! Fishing is allowed with tribal & state fishing licenses.
  • Check out the wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons and wild horses.
  • Warm day? Take a dip in Flathead Lake!
  • Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you enjoy the views.

Wild Horse Island is said to have been used by the Salish-Kootenai Indians who would pasture their horses on the island to prevent them from being stolen by other tribes!

Wild Horse Island used to be farmed and in the 30s even hosted a lodge. Visitors can still find apple and pear orchards, so if you’re feeling peckish, grab a snack! Besides the great views and interesting wildlife, you can also find rare, endangered plant life on Wild Horse Island. The island even has a Palouse Prairie ecosystem, one of only three of these biomes in Montana!

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Beautifully untouched for the most part. There are 5 horses currently on island and 1 bear, that we saw neither of. Lol. However it was abundant with bald eagles, osprey, deer, and bighorn sheep. Most of which you can view from a boat offshore if you have a keen eye. If not get a guided tour. But no tours are given on island, just to and from."

"Great place to boat to and relax. Beautiful water and fun rocks to skip!"

"Beautiful island to cruise around and we caught the 5 wild horses on the Western side!"

"Island in flathead lake with a few hiking trails and animals. Worth a visit during the day, or coming over by boat closer to dusk to see the deer, sheep, and possibly horses as they come down to drink."

 

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    Park

    Open Year Round

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    Restrictions/Closures

    Fires & Smoking Prohibited
    Groups 15 and over must have a special permit.

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    Location

    Flathead Lake
    Latitude/Longitude:
    (47.84715/-114.23458)

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Whitefish Lake State Park

Whitefish Lake State Park

Whitefish Lake State Park

A quick drive, walk, or bike ride from downtown Whitefish, you’ll find Whitefish Lake State Park or just State Park as the locals call it. Part of the Whitefish hiking and biking trail system, this park has something for everyone!

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Looking to camp?

Whitefish Lake is host to 25 campsites made up of a mix of tent only, bike travel, and RV camping. You’re sure to find what you need if you plan to stay a night or two!

Many of the campsites here have a secluded feeling as they’re divided by tall trees. If you plan to bring in your RV or trailer, be aware that RV/trailer length is limited to 40 feet.

Kids love watching trains move just along the park’s edge near the campground!

A new hike and bike campsite is perfect for cyclists traveling along the Great Divide route!

The lake is rarely windy making is the perfect destination for water-skiing and other water activities!

Stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, and pedal boats are available to rent June 15-Labor Day from Sea Me Paddle Kayaking Tours, Inc. Be sure to call ahead as hours of operation vary! You can reach them at 406-249-1153.

While the shallow water at the beach isn’t known for swimming, your four-legged friend will love the designated swimming area for dogs!

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Clean and well organized. Park rangers enforce the law properly"

"Nice clean campground. Friendly hosts. Easy access to lake. Perfect for swimming and for the pups. Decent public restrooms"

"Great little camp ground with a dog exercise/swimming area, huge beachfront picnic area, boat launch, with spacious, semi-private campsites. The best part though was the helpful, friendly staff! We'll be back! Also, very close to the Whitefish Trail system, some of the best mountain biking/hiking in the Northwest!"

"Really nice quiet place with amazing views of big mountain."

 

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    Park

    Gates Open April - November

    Gates Closed December - April

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    Campground

    Lower Loop 

    Open through November

    Upper Loop

    Open through September

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    Location

    1615 W Lakeshore Whitefish, MT 59937

West Shore State Park 2

West Shore State Park

West Shore State Park

West Shore State Park

West Shore State Park is located just outside of Lakeside, MT and is open year-round!

There, you will find glacially-carved rock outcrops within the park where you’ll have incredible views of Flathead Lake and the Mission and Swan Mountains Ranges.

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Looking to hike?

All of the hiking trails at the park are single-track dirt trails that range from steep and laborious to gradual, contoured and easy-going. Pets are welcome on a leash.

West Shore has a dock so long that boats can use it year-round (including winter!) when the lake is low. Experience the tranquil atmosphere while camping in a forest of fir, pine and larch above Flathead Lake.

There are 31 campsites available with seven being tent only. If you plan to bring your RV or trailer, make sure it’s no more than 40 feet.

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    Take in the unique topography of West Shore State Park on 4 miles of hiking trails along the rocky shoreline.

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    Bring your joint state/tribal fishing license and take your shot at catching dinner from the lake!

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    Spend a day on the lake and rent a kayak or canoe from Sea Me Paddle in Lakeside or at the Park during the summer.

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    Enjoy the beach and then cool off with a dip in chilly Flathead Lake.

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    Check out the local wildlife, including great birdwatching!

West Shore has a dock so long that boats can use it year-round (including winter!) when the lake is low. Experience the tranquil atmosphere while camping in a forest of fir, pine and larch above Flathead Lake.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"We just stopped here to relax a bit. The park is in a nice forest with lake access. There is also a small trail inside the park which leads to a nice vista point."

"This Lake brings back so many childhood memories there is a single spot of this like that I don't love!"

"Good trails. Beautiful shore line. Camping spots look good, not too close together."

"SO pretty!!! I just want to LIVE here!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Campground 

    Open May-October

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    Additional Information 

    Electricity at Campsites Until 11/1
    Potable Water Available Until 10/1

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    Location

    17768 MT Hwy 93 Lakeside, MT 59922