Montanans spend nine hard months enduring extreme weather to rejoice in three solid months of glorious summer. Yes, just three. Don’t get me wrong, I have learned to love an early fall, with warm long days and no tourists, but I nobody can argue that a good, hot August day on “the lake” encompasses what all us natives wait all year for.
I grew up spending summers at “the lake”. And for many Montanans, “the lake” is where we spend our weekends during summer. It can be Seeley, Ft. Peck, Tally, or the numerous lakes in our state; they are all referred to as “the lake”. For me, Flathead lake will always be “the lake”.
I had the chance to attend a wedding there this weekend and take a ride on the scenic dinner cruise at Kwataqnuk Resort on Flathead lake. During the cruise the captain pointed out names of islands on the lake and gave us some history. I have been recreating on this lake my entire life and never took the time to learn the names of islands or any history. So I thought you all might like to know a few things about Flathead Lake:
- Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River in the contiguous United States.
- It is 197 sq miles (510.2 km²) Surface elevation: 2,894′ (882 m) Mean depth: 165′ (50 m) Length: 27.28 miles (43.9 km) Width: 15.47 miles (24.9 km)
- The Lake’s major tributaries are the Flathead and Swan Rivers.
- Main islands: Wild Horse Island, Melita, Dream, Shelter, Bull, Mother-in-Law, Bird, Cromwell, Cedar
- Mack Alley: The area between Wild Horse and Melita islands is referred to as “Mack Alley”.
- The Narrows: From Polson headed north on the water you will go through a section of islands, this area is “The Narrows
Here is a map and fishing guide from mackdays.com. There are numerous state parks, and ways to enjoy Flathead Lake, for more information click here.