Bigfork and the Flathead Lake Area
Are you planning a trip to Glacier National Park? Then, Bigfork and the Flathead Lake area in Montana is a must-add to your itinerary. Take a beautiful 45-minute drive from Glacier National Park and hang out in the eclectic small town of Bigfork. As Flathead Lake appears when driving into town, it will take your breath away. Not to mention, the area is filled with excellent restaurants, breweries, fun shops, local music events, parks, and genuine people.
Flathead Lake State Parks
Sculpted by the Glaciers, Flathead Lake is the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River in the United States. Six (yes, six!) state parks surround the lake, including Wild Horse Island State Park, which is only accessible by boat. The 2,160-acre island is home to a band of wild horses, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, and more. The other five state parks are as follows: Wayfarers State Park, Big Arm State Park, West Shore State Park, Finley Point State Park, and Yellow Bay State Park. The state parks offer camping, picnicking, hiking, and endless water recreation.
Our first stop was Wayfarers State Park for a short hike on the rocky cliffs along the shoreline. Then, lunch to-go from Flathead Lake Brewery and a picnic at Everit L. Sliter Memorial park right next to the Swan River and historic bridge. This is a lovely dog-friendly park with picnic tables right next to the water.
We found the sweetest lodging at Mountain Lake Lodge. The rooms are very spacious with local art decor, spectacular views, and two on-site restaurants; Schafer’s Restaurant and Riley’s Pub. We loved the wood-fired pizza (gluten-free crust available) at Riley’s, along with their made in-house desserts and their dog-friendly patio. Additional amenities include an infinity pool overlooking Flathead Lake, a fire pit, lawn games, hot tubs, and putting green.
On the second day, we drove to the quaint town of Lakeside, Montana, to check out Tamarack Brewing Co. and West Shore State Park. This was one of my favorite meals! You have to try the Huckleberry Salmon. Delicious! Also in Lakeside, is a really nice city park. The city park isn’t dog-friendly, but the state parks are, and Allen had a blast. He wanted to swim out and meet the kayakers.
On the third day, we headed to Finley Point State Park to skip some rocks. This is one of the smaller state parks with a secluded campground. The drive from Mountain Lake Lodge offers gorgeous views of the lake and cherry orchards. I can’t wait to go back someday in early August to buy from the cherry stands around the lake.
Then, in the evening, we went to Max’s Market to hear live music. This local organic market is AMAZING! The market offers organic groceries, wine, beer, kombucha, unique gifts, healthy lunch/dinner/snacks, and live music. Plus, they are dog-friendly! Including, their adorable dog named Charley, who lovingly greets all the guests.
Last, our favorite restaurant in Bigfork is Echo Lake Cafe. This iconic family-owned restaurant has been serving homemade food since 1960. We ate there four times during our stay because the food is so good. 🙂 They have a wonderful patio and also offer gluten-free options. The gluten-free french toast, pictured below, was crazy yummy!
Follow along on Instagram at @whatstirsyoursoul for more photos and videos.
Read our Glacier National Park blog post here: https://whatstirsyoursoul.com/2021/06/27/glacier-national-park-and-west-glacier-koa/.
Enjoy the road and keep searching for what stirs your soul. ❤️
2 thoughts on “Bigfork and Flathead Lake, Montana”
Don’t be fooled by the glossy pictures. Although beautiful, there are long waits at any eatery. There are no parking spaces at the few public beaches (most of the land on the lake is private) and all camping spots are reserved until the snow flies. People from all over the country are here creating traffic jams and accidents. Don’t expect the serenity you want to find. Maybe in the future when revenge travelers go somewhere else.
That was not the case when we visited in June, Lauren. When where you there? It’s definitely busy after the pandemic and with all the summer travelers. That’s why we stay flexible and I think most people expect popular areas to be busy at this time.