Swan Valley in Montana

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Swan Valley

Whether you want to discover a quiet wooded lake or stop to admire the sun shimmering off Holland Peak, the 90-mile drive through Swan Valley is breathtaking.

  • Also called the Swan Highway, Highway 83 cuts through a deep swath of Flathead National Forest as it passes dozens of pristine lakes.
  • Take some time to visit the Swan River Wildlife Refuge, just south of Swan Lake. It’s the perfect place to spot bald eagles, blue herons and even a moose or a bear. 
  • Pose for the perfect vacation photos at the Summit Lake Overlook.

Why should I drive the Swan Highway?

Venture away from the crowds and head to the heavily forested corridor between Seeley Lake and Swan Lake. The narrow two-laned Highway 83 travels along the shores of Swan Lake with views of the Mission Mountains to the west and the Swan Mountains to the east, on its way down to beautiful Seeley Lake.

Besides Swan Lake and Condon there aren’t many other towns along the route, so be sure to gas up beforehand. Dotted with dozens of lovely little lakes like Lake Inez, Lake Alva and Summit Lake along the route, Highway 83 traverses the heart of Montana’s lake country.

Where does the scenic drive begin and end?

From Kalispell take Route 93 south to 82 east and pick-up Highway 83 outside of Bigfork. Also called the Swan Highway, Highway 83 moves south past Swan Lake for 90 miles to Seeley Lake.

How long does the Swan Valley take to drive?

Depending on your speed and how many stops you take the 90-mile drive should take about 2 to 3 hours.

What will I see along the way? 

  • View of Swan Valley: Starting at Swan Lake, drivers will enjoy a vast view of the Swan Valley, which is nestled between the Mission and Swan Mountains. Just south of Swan Lake, be sure to stop in for a visit to the Swan River Wildlife Refuge. Inside the refuge visitors can enjoy great wildlife viewing and bird watching. Expect to see bald eagles, great blue herons and black terns from Bog Road. 
  • Thick Forest: Past Swan Lake the road cuts into a deep swath of Douglas firs and some white birch as it passes through the Flathead National Forest. 
  • Summit Overlook: At highway mile marker 31, the Summit Lake Overlook offers great views of the lake and Mission Mountains. 
  • Swan Peak: For picturesque views of Swan Peak, turn off Highway 83 at mile marker 57 and take a moment to enjoy the view from one of the picnic benches. 
  • Hike to Holland Falls: If you want to enjoy a sojourn into the great outdoors during your drive, try the easy 1.5 mile hike to Holland Falls. Just 3-miles off Highway 83 on Holland Lake Road.