Motorboating is a classic summer pastime in Western Montana, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the amount of water to play in. Each of our lakes is uniquely beautiful—from Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake West of the Mississippi, to Lake Como, a mountain lake surrounded by alpine forests—our lakes are some of the wildest and most serene parts of our region. To help you plan your next trip, we’ve rounded up a list of Western Montana lakes for motorboat fun. 

You’d be hard-pressed to find a better summer pastime than a day on Western Montana’s lakes.


Flathead Lake is 30 miles long and nearly 15 miles wide with 180 miles of shoreline, making it our largest lake as well as a recreation hot spot with ample opportunity for every kind of boating adventure. Only accessible by boat, Wild Horse Island State Park is one of multiple state parks on Flathead Lake and is home to wild horses and bighorn sheep. Hiking one of the island’s loops is a must. Located in the Flathead Corridor, cherry orchards line the shores, and the Mission Mountains can be seen in the background. Go with a guide—Adventure Sports Lake Tours, Bagley Guide Service, Discover Flathead Lake, Hooked on Montana, Go Sail Flathead Lake, and Far West Boat Tours offer a variety of guided tours on Flathead Lake. Boat rentals are available on the lake from Old Faithful Watersports and Flathead Boat Company

Please note: The southern half of the lake is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation, home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. When recreating or fishing on these waters, be sure to obtain a tribal permit (available at most area sporting goods stores).

Boat to Wild Horse Island State Park to look for wild horses and bighorn sheep. Photo: Andy Austin


Life on the water awaits in the Seeley Swan Corridor, a region dotted with lakes hidden in the lush, forested landscape between the Mission Mountain Range and the Swan Mountain Range. Seeley Lake, a 1,000+ acre lake, is a popular destination for water recreation, including jet skiing and wakesurfing, and it’s conveniently located just off Montana Highway 83. Tamarack Resort offers on-lake rentals of pontoon boats, ski boats, and more. Other popular motorboating lakes in the area include Salmon Lake and Placid Lake.  

Watching the sun set over Placid Lake is awe-inspiring.


Hidden in the Bitterroot Valley a few miles north of DarbyLake Como is an ideal place to motorboat—and is downright breathtaking. A human-made lake constructed in the early 20th century, Lake Como is a mountain lake nestled in the alpine landscape of the Bitterroot National Forest. The Lake Como Trail extends 7 miles around the lake and passes a waterfall. If you don’t hike or bike the trail, you can easily boat to the south end of the lake to see the waterfall.  

Come see why Lake Como is a favorite boating spot among locals.


Beginning at Hungry Horse Dam, the Hungry Horse Reservoir is fed by the South Fork of the Flathead River and encompasses 170 miles of shoreline. Cast a line and you might pull in bull trout, mountain whitefish or westslope cutthroat trout. Located only 15 miles south of the west entrance of Glacier National Park and 20 miles northeast of Kalispell, the 14 campgrounds and recreation sites around the reservoir can make a great base camp for your Glacier Country adventure. Note: The East Side Hungry Horse Reservoir Road (National Forest System Road 38) will be temporarily closed to public use from approximately July 15 through August 12, 2024.

Set out to explore Hungry Horse Reservoir near Glacier National Park. Photo: Jason Savage


Along one of Western Montana’s most scenic drives, Highway 200, the Noxon Reservoir offers unrivaled motorboating fun. Water skiing, jet skiing and fishing largemouth and smallmouth bass can all be enjoyed on this 25-mile-long reservoir. This section of the Clark Fork River is also home to some of the only walleye fish in Western Montana. The Thompson Falls Reservoir is also found in the Clark Fork corridor.

A hidden paradise can be found at Noxon Reservoir. Photo: Chris Sawicki


Lake Koocanusa is located in Glacier Country’s Northwest Corridor. This 90-mile-long reservoir straddles the U.S. and Canadian border, with 50 miles of it in Montana. Known for superb rainbow-trout fishing, boaters enjoy the turquoise water, sandstone cliffs and surrounding mountain views. Campgrounds, boat ramps, recreation and picnic areas surround the lake, making day and overnight access easy. Abayance Bay offers on-water boat rentals and houses an amphitheater that sits on the shoreline of Lake Koocanusa and brings in national acts. You’ll also find Bull Lake in the Northwest Corridor.

Fall is an underrated time to motorboat in Glacier Country; see the colors pop on Bull Lake. Photo: Jason Savage


Whitefish Lake boasts sandy beaches and beautiful state parks, and, at 7 miles long and 2 miles wide, there’s plenty of space for boating. Check out the Marina at Whitefish Lake for a variety of rentals, from ski boats to pontoon boats and more. If you want to get on the lake but don’t feel like captaining a boat, you can take a cruise on their 31-foot classic wood boat, The Lady of Lake. If you feel like exploring the town after a day on the water, Whitefish Lake State Park, on the shores of the lake, connects to the city’s hiking and biking trail, making it easy to wander into town.

Access Whitefish Lake from City Beach, Whitefish Lake State Park or Les Mason State Park. Photo: Chris Sawicki


All motorboats must have a valid license, and all users should wear a personal floatation device (PFD). Anyone traveling with their own motorized or nonmotorized watercraft must stop at all open watercraft inspection stations they encounter. These mandatory inspections help keep Montana’s waters free of aquatic invasive species. Nonresidents must also purchase a Vessel AIS Prevention Pass. After an amazing day of fun on the water, follow the three easy steps of Clean. Drain. Dry. to help keep Montana’s rivers, lakes and streams as pristine as you found them. Motorboats are allowed on most lakes and some larger rivers, while smaller lakes and rivers may have restrictions, including no-wake zones, times of day, and no-wake periods.

Find additional information on each lake here and boat rental information here.

Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly; and help build an inclusive outdoors.

July 8, 2024

Related: Bitterroot Valley, Boating, Clark Fork Corridor, Darby, Family Fun, Fishing, Flathead Corridor, Flathead Lake, GNP Surrounding Area, Hungry Horse, Montana, Northwest Corridor, Noxon, Outdoor Fun, Seeley Lake, Seeley-Swan Corridor, Summer Fun, Thompson Falls, Vacation, Whitefish