Montana is a true paradise for adventure seekers, and its breathtaking boating destinations are no exception. From crystal-clear mountain lakes to scenic rivers winding through awe-inspiring landscapes, there is no shortage of beauty to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a beginner looking for a tranquil cruise, Montana offers a diverse range of boating experiences that will leave you in awe. So grab your sunscreen, pack a picnic, and get ready to immerse yourself in the wonders of Montana’s stunning boating destinations.
Glacier National Park
If you’re looking for a breathtaking boating experience in Montana, look no further than Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. This stunning lake is nestled amidst towering mountains and offers a picturesque setting for boating enthusiasts. You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and explore the crystal-clear waters at your own pace. As you glide through the lake, you’ll be amazed by the surrounding beauty and the tranquility of nature. Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that call this area home, including bald eagles and moose.
Another must-visit boating destination within Glacier National Park is Swiftcurrent Lake. This tranquil lake is surrounded by lush greenery and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Rent a rowboat or a pedal boat and spend the day leisurely exploring the lake. The calm waters reflect the magnificent mountains, creating a postcard-worthy scene. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and enjoy a relaxing meal on the shore while taking in the majestic views. Swiftcurrent Lake is a hidden gem that you won’t want to miss.
Two Medicine Lake
For a boating adventure that combines natural beauty with rich history, make your way to Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. This pristine lake is steeped in Native American history and offers a unique boating experience. Rent a fishing boat and try your luck at catching trout or simply enjoy a peaceful cruise along the shoreline. As you navigate the sparkling waters, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Two Medicine Lake is a paradise for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike.
Located on the eastern shore of Flathead Lake, Bigfork Bay is a paradise for boating enthusiasts. With its calm waters and stunning mountain backdrop, this bay offers the perfect setting for a day of boating adventures. Whether you want to sail, kayak, or jet ski, Bigfork Bay has something for everyone. Explore the bay’s hidden coves and secluded beaches or soak up the sun on your boat. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the resident bald eagles soaring overhead. Bigfork Bay is a boater’s dream come true.
Wild Horse Island
If you’re in search of a unique boating destination, look no further than Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake. This uninhabited island is home to a population of wild horses, making it a must-visit for animal lovers. Explore the island’s rugged shoreline by boat and keep an eye out for these majestic creatures grazing on the grassy slopes. You can also anchor your boat and take a hike to the island’s summit, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Flathead Lake and the surrounding mountains. Wild Horse Island is a true hidden gem.
Wayfarers State Park
Nestled along the western shore of Flathead Lake, Wayfarers State Park is a popular boating destination for both locals and visitors alike. The park offers a boat launch, allowing you to easily access the sparkling waters of Flathead Lake. Whether you prefer fishing, water skiing, or simply cruising along the lake, Wayfarers State Park provides endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Take a break from boating and relax on the sandy beach or have a picnic in one of the park’s designated areas. Wayfarers State Park is the perfect place to spend a day on the water with friends and family.
Situated on the Missouri River, Holter Lake is a haven for boating enthusiasts in Montana. Known for its pristine waters and incredible fishing opportunities, this lake is a paradise for anglers. Rent a fishing boat and cast your line for trout, walleye, or northern pike. If fishing is not your cup of tea, you can still enjoy the scenic beauty of Holter Lake by renting a pontoon boat or a kayak. Cruise along the lake’s calm waters and take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding Helena National Forest. Holter Lake is a must-visit destination for those seeking outdoor adventure on the water.
Located along the banks of the Missouri River, Great Falls is a vibrant city that offers a range of boating opportunities. Whether you want to paddleboard, kayak, or canoe, the Missouri River is the perfect place to indulge in your favorite water activities. Explore the city’s riverfront parks and launch your boat to embark on an unforgettable boating adventure. The river’s gentle currents make it ideal for beginners, while more experienced boaters can navigate the rapids and take on a thrilling whitewater adventure. Great Falls is a fantastic destination for boaters of all skill levels.
For a boating experience steeped in history, head to Fort Benton on the Missouri River. This charming town is known as the “Birthplace of Montana” and offers a fascinating glimpse into the state’s past. Launch your boat from the riverfront and cruise along the Missouri River, retracing the steps of Lewis and Clark. As you navigate the river’s calm waters, you’ll pass by historic sites and landmarks, including the Old Fort Benton Bridge and the steamboat landing. Fort Benton is a must-visit destination for history buffs and boating enthusiasts alike.
One of the most iconic features of Bighorn Canyon is Yellowtail Dam. This massive structure spans the Bighorn River, creating Bighorn Lake, a stunning reservoir that stretches for miles. Boating on Bighorn Lake offers a unique perspective on the towering canyon walls and rugged landscapes that surround it. Rent a powerboat or a pontoon boat and spend the day exploring the lake’s hidden coves and sandy beaches. Enjoy a picnic on one of the many islands that dot the lake or go fishing for walleye, bass, or catfish. Bighorn Canyon and Yellowtail Dam are a boater’s paradise.
Flowing through the heart of Bighorn Canyon, the Bighorn River offers a thrilling boating experience for both beginners and experienced boaters. Launch your boat at one of the designated ramps and embark on a scenic journey along the river. As you navigate its waters, you’ll encounter rapids, calm stretches, and breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and canyons. The Bighorn River is also renowned for its exceptional trout fishing, so don’t forget to bring your fishing gear. Whether you’re seeking adventure or a peaceful day on the water, the Bighorn River has it all.
Nestled within Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area, Horseshoe Bend is a hidden gem for boating enthusiasts. This picturesque bay offers calm waters and stunning views of the surrounding cliffs and rock formations. Rent a kayak or a paddleboard and explore the serene waters of Horseshoe Bend at your own pace. As you paddle along the bay, you’ll be treated to glimpses of wildlife, including mule deer and bighorn sheep. If you’re up for a challenge, take a hike to the canyon rim and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of Bighorn Canyon. Horseshoe Bend is a boating destination that shouldn’t be missed.
Clark Fork River
Milltown State Park
Located along the Clark Fork River, Milltown State Park offers a serene escape for boating enthusiasts. This park is a hidden oasis where you can launch your boat and explore the meandering waters of the Clark Fork River. Whether you prefer canoeing, kayaking, or paddleboarding, Milltown State Park provides the perfect backdrop for a relaxing day on the water. As you glide through the river, you’ll pass by lush forests, wildlife habitats, and even remnants of the historical Milltown Dam. With its tranquil atmosphere and natural beauty, Milltown State Park is a boater’s paradise.
For adrenaline junkies and thrill-seekers, Alberton Gorge on the Clark Fork River is the ultimate boating destination. This stretch of the river offers exciting whitewater rapids, perfect for rafting or kayaking. Test your skills as you navigate through the churning waters and adrenaline-pumping drops. The stunning scenery of Alberton Gorge adds to the thrill, with towering cliffs and dense forests surrounding the river. Experienced guides are available for those new to whitewater rafting, ensuring a safe and memorable adventure. Alberton Gorge is the place to go if you’re looking for an exhilarating boating experience.
Dixon to Paradise
Embark on a scenic journey along the Clark Fork River, starting from the town of Dixon and ending in Paradise. This picturesque stretch of the river offers a tranquil escape from the outside world. Rent a canoe or a fishing boat and meander through calm waters, taking in the peaceful surroundings. The serenity of the river will make you feel like you’re in a different world, far away from the stresses of everyday life. Keep your eyes peeled for a variety of bird species that call this area home, including osprey and herons. Dixon to Paradise is the perfect boating trip for those seeking solitude and natural beauty.
Upper Missouri River
Gates of the Mountains
One of the most awe-inspiring boating destinations in Montana is the Gates of the Mountains along the Upper Missouri River. This natural landmark features towering limestone cliffs that rise dramatically from the water, creating a breathtaking sight. Take a guided boat tour and marvel at the sheer size and beauty of the cliffs. As you cruise through the narrow canyon, you’ll learn about the area’s history and the Lewis and Clark expedition. The Gates of the Mountains is a must-see destination for anyone who appreciates the raw power and grandeur of nature.
Flowing through the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, the White Cliffs create a stunning backdrop for boating adventures. These massive cliffs, composed of white sandstone, rise hundreds of feet above the water, creating a striking contrast with the river below. Rent a canoe or a kayak and navigate through the calm waters, taking in the breathtaking views of the cliffs. The haunting beauty of the White Cliffs is a sight to behold, transporting you to another world. This boating destination is perfect for those seeking solitude and a deep connection with nature.
Fort Peck Lake
Last but certainly not least on our list is Fort Peck Lake, a sprawling reservoir on the Upper Missouri River. With over 1,520 miles of shoreline, this massive lake offers endless opportunities for boating adventures. From fishing and water skiing to cruising and camping, Fort Peck Lake has something for everyone. Explore the lake’s secluded coves and hidden beaches or simply relax on your boat and soak up the sun. The crystal-clear waters of Fort Peck Lake are teeming with fish, making it a haven for anglers. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, Fort Peck Lake is the perfect boating destination in Montana.
Canyon Ferry Lake
Located on the east shore of Canyon Ferry Lake, Kim’s Marina is a popular spot for boaters and water enthusiasts. This family-owned marina offers a range of amenities, including boat rentals, fuel, and a convenience store. Launch your boat from Kim’s Marina and set out on a day of adventure on the lake. Canyon Ferry Lake is known for its excellent fishing, so be sure to bring your fishing gear and try your luck at catching walleye, rainbow trout, or perch. Kim’s Marina is the perfect place to start your boating journey on Canyon Ferry Lake.
Silo’s Recreation Area
Nestled along the shoreline of Canyon Ferry Lake, Silo’s Recreation Area is a fantastic destination for boating and outdoor recreation. This expansive area offers a boat launch, allowing easy access to the lake’s sparkling waters. Whether you prefer fishing, water skiing, or simply cruising along the lake, Silo’s Recreation Area provides ample opportunities for fun on the water. Take a break from boating and enjoy a picnic at one of the many shaded picnic tables or go for a swim in the refreshing lake. Silo’s Recreation Area is a hidden gem that offers something for everyone.
For a boating adventure away from the crowds, head to Confederate Bay on Canyon Ferry Lake. This secluded bay offers peace and tranquility, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Launch your boat and explore the calm waters of Confederate Bay, taking in the scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic on your boat or find a quiet spot along the shoreline to relax and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. Confederate Bay is the perfect boating destination for those seeking serenity and natural beauty.
Lakeside Bar & Marina
Situated on the western shore of Hauser Lake, Lakeside Bar & Marina is a popular gathering spot for boaters and lake lovers. This vibrant marina offers boat rentals, fuel, and a full-service bar and restaurant. Launch your boat from Lakeside Bar & Marina and spend the day exploring the sparkling waters of Hauser Lake. The lake is known for its trophy trout fishing, so anglers can try their luck at reeling in a big catch. After a day on the water, relax on the marina’s outdoor patio and enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the stunning lake views. Lakeside Bar & Marina is a boater’s paradise.
Black Sandy State Park
Black Sandy State Park is a hidden gem on the eastern shore of Hauser Lake. This serene park offers a peaceful lakeside retreat for boating enthusiasts. Launch your boat from the park’s boat ramp and set out on an adventure on the crystal-clear waters of Hauser Lake. Whether you want to fish, water ski, or simply cruise along the lake, Black Sandy State Park provides a picturesque setting for outdoor recreation. Take a break from boating and explore the park’s hiking trails or have a picnic at one of the shaded picnic tables. Black Sandy State Park is a boating destination that’s not to be missed.
Willow Creek Reservoir
Located just upstream from Hauser Lake, Willow Creek Reservoir is a serene boating destination for those seeking solitude and natural beauty. This small reservoir offers calm waters and stunning mountain views, creating a peaceful atmosphere for boating adventures. Rent a paddleboard or a kayak and explore the reservoir’s hidden coves and tranquil inlets. The surrounding forests are home to a variety of wildlife, including deer and eagles, so keep your camera handy. Willow Creek Reservoir is the perfect place to escape the noise of everyday life and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature.
Little Bighorn River
Bighorn National Recreation Area
Flowing through Montana and Wyoming, the Little Bighorn River offers a range of boating opportunities in the heart of the Bighorn Mountains. The Bighorn National Recreation Area is a boater’s paradise, with its clear waters, stunning scenery, and abundant wildlife. Launch your boat at one of the designated ramps and embark on a scenic journey along the river. As you float downstream, you’ll pass by towering cliffs, peaceful meadows, and even the occasional bald eagle soaring overhead. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely float or an exciting whitewater adventure, the Little Bighorn River has it all.
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
For a boating destination that combines history and natural beauty, head to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument on the banks of the Little Bighorn River. This historic site commemorates the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where General Custer and his troops clashed with the Lakota and Cheyenne tribes. Launch your boat from the river and explore the calm waters of the Little Bighorn River at your own pace. As you navigate the river, you’ll learn about the battle and the events that shaped the nation’s history. The Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is a must-visit destination for history buffs and boating enthusiasts alike.
Flowing through the Crow Reservation, the Little Bighorn River offers a unique boating experience with a cultural twist. The Crow Reservation is home to the Crow Tribe, and boating along the river provides a fascinating glimpse into their way of life. Launch your boat and float downstream, taking in the beautiful landscape and the cultural significance of the area. The river is a vital resource for the Crow people, providing fish, water, and transportation. As you navigate the waters, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the tribe’s connection to the land and the river. Boating on the Little Bighorn River is not only a recreational activity but also an opportunity for cultural immersion.
Fort Peck Lake
Hell Creek Marina
Located on the western shore of Fort Peck Lake, Hell Creek Marina is a bustling hub for boating enthusiasts. This full-service marina offers boat rentals, fuel, groceries, and a cozy campground. Launch your boat and set out on an adventure on Fort Peck Lake, where you can explore its vast expanse and hidden coves. The lake is teeming with fish, making it a favorite spot for anglers. After a day on the water, unwind at the marina’s restaurant and grab a delicious meal while enjoying the stunning lake views. Hell Creek Marina is the perfect place to start your boating journey on Fort Peck Lake.
Sleeping Buffalo Resort
For those seeking a boating paradise with a touch of luxury, look no further than Sleeping Buffalo Resort on Fort Peck Lake. This upscale lakeside resort offers a range of amenities, including boat rentals, a marina, and comfortable accommodations. Launch your boat from the resort and spend the day cruising along the crystal-clear waters of Fort Peck Lake. The resort’s marina offers fuel, snacks, and fishing supplies, ensuring you have everything you need for a day of boating adventures. End your day by relaxing in the resort’s hot tub or enjoying a gourmet meal at the on-site restaurant. Sleeping Buffalo Resort is the ultimate boater’s retreat.
Duck Creek Recreation Area
Situated on the northeastern shore of Fort Peck Lake, Duck Creek Recreation Area is a tranquil boating destination that offers a true escape from the outside world. This secluded area provides a boat launch, allowing easy access to the lake’s pristine waters. Rent a fishing boat or pontoon and spend the day exploring the vastness of Fort Peck Lake. The area is known for its excellent fishing, with abundant walleye, sauger, and northern pike. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a bald eagle soaring overhead or a herd of deer grazing along the shoreline. Duck Creek Recreation Area is a boater’s paradise in the heart of nature.
Montana’s boating destinations are as diverse as the state itself, offering something for everyone. From the rugged beauty of Glacier National Park to the serene waters of Hauser Lake, there is no shortage of breathtaking places to explore by boat. Whether you’re seeking adrenaline-pumping whitewater adventures or a peaceful escape into nature, Montana’s lakes, rivers, and reservoirs provide endless opportunities for boating enthusiasts. So grab your life jacket, pack a picnic, and embark on an unforgettable boating journey through the stunning landscapes of Montana.