Lake McDonald Montana Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Lake McDonald

At first glance visitors are often awe struck by Lake McDonald. The largest lake in the park, McDonald is akin to a glacial fjord, with its crystal-clear waters ringed by snow-capped mountains.

  • At sunset, cruise the Going-to-the-Sun Road which winds past Lake McDonald. 
  • With a trailhead close to Lake McDonald, hike to Avalanche Lake for spectacular views of the 200-foot mountain waterfalls. 
  • Tour the lake aboard the antique wooden boat the Desmet.

What can I do at Lake McDonald? 

Scenic Drive: Entering the park in West Glacier, visitors follow the Going-to-the-Sun Road starting at Apgar Village, winding around Lake McDonald.
The road offers lots of turnouts and vantage points to admire the surrounding mountain vistas and wildlife. Crossing through the center of the park, the road moves over the Continental Divide and through the most spectacular views in the park. A 53-mile scenic road starts at the lake. 

Hiking: There are no hiking trails which circumnavigate Lake McDonald, however two of the best moderate hikes are located nearby.

  • Fish Lake is a 9-mile trek with little elevation gain starting at the Lake McDonald Lodge Parking Lot.
  • Avalanche Lake is a 4.7-mile hike starting at the Trail of the Cedars. Great views of the lake and surrounding 200-foot waterfalls, but don’t expect to see much wildlife on this heavily traveled trail. 

Boating: Canoes, kayaks and motorized skiffs are available for rent. Cruise the lake aboard the antique wooden vessel, DeSmet. Boat rentals and tours are available through the Glacier Park Boat Company at the Lake McDonald Lodge. 

Fishing: Fishing the shoreline is a fairly popular. Anglers can expect to find rainbow, cutthroat, lake and bull trout. But due to the amount of boating traffic, Lake McDonald is not a favorite among anglers.

Where is Lake McDonald?

Traveling east on Highway 2, turn left at the sign for West Glacier. Once entering the west gate of the park, you’ll be on Going-to-the-Sun road and Lake McDonald will appear on the left.

When is Lake McDonald open?


How much does it cost?

Because it is located inside the park, to visit Lake McDonald visitors must pay the park’s entrance fee.

Summer rates: 7-day automobile pass $25. Glacier Park Annual Pass $35.

Who can I call if I have more questions?

Glacier’s National Park Service (406) 888-7800