Glacier National Park
The Lakes of Glacier

Mt. Gould in Glacier Park

The Lakes in Glacier National Park

Photo Use Guidelines

The lakes in Glacier National Park are perhaps the most stunning mountain lakes in the world. Anyone who visits Lake McDonald, St. Mary Lake, Swiftcurrent Lake, Bowman Lake, Kintla Lake or Two Medicine Lake on clear days cannot help be taken aback by the stunning site of these large lakes that have towering mountains rise up right from the lake's shore.

This section of looks at the front country lakes in Glacier National Park, which is defined as those lakes that you are able to drive to. Other lakes, that require hiking to reach, are described in our "backcountry fishing" section.

What sets the lakes apart in Glacier National Park from other mountain lakes, at least to me, is their sheer size. The primary lakes in Glacier National Park that people see (due to road access and popular destination spots) are extremely large by mountain lake standards. Most mountain lakes tend to be rather small, often times not exceeding 50-100 acres. Yet, Glacier Park has dozens of lakes that exceed several square miles in size. Additionally, the waters of the lakes in Glacier National Park are absolutely clear - putting other mountain lakes to shame. And, not surprisingly, as the lakes receive their water from snowmelt, the water in these lakes is incredibly cold even during the warmest summer months.

Photo Use Guidelines

Considering the number and beauty of the lakes in Glacier National Park, it is somewhat surprising how little use the lakes actually get. Part of this is due to strict boating regulations - most of the lakes in the park prohibit motors on boats or allow only small outboards. The other reason is that Glacier National Park is a long way from the nearest metropolitan area, limiting the number of boats in general. All of this, of course, only adds to the beauty of these magnificent lakes.

For those who would like to do some boating on the larger, front country lakes in Glacier National Park (defined as lakes you can drive too), here's a quick breakdown on what you can and cannot do:

Motorboats: Allowed only on Lake McDonald, Sherburne Lake, St. Mary Lake, Two Medicine Lake and Waterton Lake (no boat ramp). All motorboats must be launched from a boat ramp. All boats over 12 feet must also be registered, either here in Montana or in the persons home state.

Canoes and other non-motor boats: Allowed in most waters of the park. Some waters are closed to protect critical wildlife habitat.

Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis): Prohibited on all Glacier National Park waters.

Airboats: Prohibited on all Glacier National Park waters.

Noise: Loud motorboats are banned from the park. Park regulations require any motorboat to have a noise level of less than 82 decibels.

Camping: Allowed only on designated park campgrounds, both backcountry and front country.

Lots of other small rules and regulations exist. Before launching a boat into Glacier National Park waters, be sure to check their website for the latest boating regulations.

To being exploring the front country lakes in Glacier National Park, simply click on any of the links below.

Camping Gear & Equipment Guide for Glacier National Park

Camping Tents : Find the right tent to fit your specific needs
Sleeping Bags : A Guide to getting the right sleeping bag
Sleeping Pad : Why you need a good and warm sleeping pad

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