Whether canoeing the tranquil Tally Lake or shooting the “Wild Mile” on Swan River, the Flathead Valley offers something for every watersport enthusiast.
- Tally Lake’s remote location offers a peaceful day canoeing on Montana’s deepest lake.
- With fair winds, mild currents and stunning views of glacier-capped mountains, Swan Lake is a kayakers dream.
- Get ready for one of the wildest stretches of water on Swan River’s whitewater rapids called the “Wild Mile”.
The deepest natural lake in Montana, Tally Lake is fairly remote, but due to its location in the Flathead National Forest it offers a peaceful place to drop your kayak or canoe.
- Location: 17 miles west of Whitefish. Follow route 93 to Twin Bridges Road and follow the signs for 9 miles. The roads snake through dense forest and majestic valleys, passing through the striking Star Meadow.
- Season: Open year-round. In winter use caution.
- Marina/Boat Launch: No marina. Boat launch on the northwest side of lake, near the campgrounds. Motorized and non-motorized boats allowed.
- Boat Restrictions: None.
- Camping: Open May-September. 40 campsites. $25 per night. 14-day maximum stay.
- Fishing: Due to its depth, the lake is best fished by boat. Small cutthroat trout, lake crappie, walleye, rainbow trout, brook trout and whitefish all available.
Due to its scenic vistas and fair wind conditions, Swan Lake is one of the most popular spots for Whitefish kayaking.
- Location: Southeast of Kalispell on Swan Highway 83.
- Seasons: Year-round. Summer water temps reach 70 degrees. The lake freezes in winter and if popular for winter sports like snowshoeing.
- Marina/Boat Launch: No marina. Launch located in the recreation area. Day-use fee $4.00. Due to motorized boat traffic, kayakers and canoers should expect busy waters.
- Boat Restrictions: None.
- Camping: Great campground, but not lakeside. 36-sites. $11 per night. 14 day limit.
- Fishing: Northern pike, yellow perch, Westslope cutthroat trout, kokanee salmon and rainbow trout are all found here. Shore fishing is problematic.
One of the best floats in Montana with stunning scenery and secluded bends, but beware of the strong current and frequent log jams. For experienced kayakers only.
- Put-Ins: Put ins are located Highway 83 and 209. Popular put-ins include Lindberg Lake, Condon Bridge, Piper Creek Bridge and Point Pleasant.
- Seasons: May and June see whitewater in several parts of the river with the “Wild Mile” a class II-to- V rapids.
- Rapids: Upper portions of the river, above Condon are rough and remote with constant logjams. Just north of Swan Lake, its peaceful until the 1-mile stretch between the dam and Bigfork- known as “the Wild Ride”.
- Fishing: Excellent rainbow trout and Westslope cutthroat fishing. Difficult wadding and poor shore access.
Do I need a license?
Yes. To fish in Montana you need two licenses: a conservation license and a fishing license. A fishing license is required for all non-residents 15-years and older. A 2-day, non-resident fishing license costs $25. Licenses are also available online.
I am looking for a kaying/canoe guide. Where can I find one?
Kayaking, canoeing and fishing guides can be found in Whitefish and Kalispell. Whitefish kayak rentals are available, however most outfitters will not deliver rental boats to Tally Lake.