Best Boating in Montana

Outboard motor boat pulling a tuber on a lake in Montana.
Shaman Mountain is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission on certain links, at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

For those seeking the best boating experiences amidst the pristine landscapes of Montana, look no further. Montana is a treasure trove of natural beauty, and its lakes offer some of the finest boating opportunities in the United States. From the majestic Flathead Lake with its stunning mountain backdrop to the serene and remote wilderness of Lake Koocanusa, this post will guide you through the top destinations for the best boating in Montana. Each lake is a unique gem, promising an array of activities, breathtaking scenery, and the chance to connect with the great outdoors. Whether you’re an angler, a water sports enthusiast, or simply in search of a peaceful escape, Montana’s lakes have something extraordinary to offer. Join us on a journey to explore the best boating experiences in the picturesque state of Montana.



Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake, a jewel of the American West, is a true natural wonder renowned for its stunning scenic beauty. Located in the heart of the Rockies, this majestic lake provides boaters with an idyllic backdrop of rugged mountain ranges, making it a haven for those seeking both adventure and tranquility. With crystal-clear waters and abundant recreational opportunities, Flathead Lake is a paradise for water enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Reasons to Boat in Flathead Lake:

  • Stunning Scenery: Flathead Lake is known for its breathtaking mountainous backdrop, making it a scenic paradise for boaters.
  • Recreational Opportunities: Boaters can enjoy various water activities, including fishing, swimming, and water skiing.
  • Wildlife Watching: The lake is home to diverse wildlife, and boaters may spot bald eagles, ospreys, and other bird species.
  • Island Hopping: Explore some of the lake’s islands, like Wild Horse Island, which is known for its wild horse population and hiking trails.
  • Crystal Clear Water: Flathead Lake is one of the cleanest freshwater lakes in the world, providing excellent visibility for divers and snorkelers.

Recommended Gear: Compass, Anchor, Cooler, Rope, Tarp, Snacks, Sunscreen


Canyon Ferry Lake

Canyon Ferry Lake beckons boaters to explore its vast, serene waters set against the backdrop of the rugged Montana landscape. Renowned for its diverse offerings, this reservoir is a favorite among anglers, water sports enthusiasts, and those seeking a taste of natural beauty and adventure. Whether you’re a fishing aficionado, a watersports enthusiast, or simply looking to bask in the scenery, Canyon Ferry Lake has something to offer for all.

Reasons to Boat in Canyon Ferry Lake:

  • Fishing: This reservoir is popular among anglers for its walleye, rainbow trout, and perch fishing.
  • Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy water sports such as water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing.
  • Scenic Beauty: The lake offers picturesque views with surrounding hills and mountains.
  • Camping: Numerous campgrounds are available around the lake, providing opportunities for lakeside camping.
  • Wildlife Viewing: Canyon Ferry Lake is a great spot for birdwatching and observing local wildlife.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Paddle, Sunscreen, Dry Box, Waterproof Phone Case, Anchor


Lake Koocanusa

Lake Koocanusa, with its seemingly endless stretch of pristine water, is a hidden gem for those in search of an unspoiled aquatic playground. Nestled in the arms of the Rockies, this reservoir offers boaters a taste of untamed wilderness and natural beauty that few places can match. With opportunities for angling, remote camping, and a quiet escape into the Montana wild, Lake Koocanusa is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Koocanusa:

  • Long and Scenic: Lake Koocanusa stretches for miles, offering boaters a vast and beautiful expanse of water to explore.
  • Fishing Opportunities: Anglers can catch various fish species, including rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, and northern pike.
  • Recreational Boating: The lake is ideal for boating, water skiing, and jet skiing, providing plenty of recreational options.
  • Riverside Camping: Campsites along the lake’s shoreline offer a great opportunity for a waterfront camping experience.
  • Remote Wilderness: Lake Koocanusa is surrounded by a relatively undeveloped natural landscape, making it a peaceful and tranquil destination.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Swim Bag


Georgetown Lake

Georgetown Lake, cradled by the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, offers a unique blend of serenity and adventure. As a prime destination for anglers and lovers of paddle sports, this alpine lake is a serene sanctuary. Its scenic vistas and proximity to the wilderness provide a perfect setting for boaters to unwind, explore, and connect with nature.

Reasons to Boat in Georgetown Lake:

  • Angler’s Paradise: Georgetown Lake is known for its excellent trout fishing, including rainbow, brook, and cutthroat trout.
  • Paddle Sports: Canoeing and kayaking are popular on the lake, offering a more peaceful way to enjoy the serene surroundings.
  • Scenic Mountain Views: The lake is set against the beautiful Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, providing stunning mountain views.
  • Picnicking and Beach Areas: Families can enjoy lakeside picnics and swim at designated beach areas.
  • Ice Fishing in Winter: During the winter months, the lake is a hotspot for ice fishing enthusiasts.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Fort Peck Lake

Fort Peck Lake stands as a testament to the vastness of the Montana landscape. This colossal man-made reservoir, with its rich fishing grounds, remote camping spots, and endless water-based activities, beckons boaters to explore its expansive beauty. Whether you’re an angler, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful getaway, Fort Peck Lake offers a memorable experience amidst its breathtaking surroundings.

Reasons to Boat in Fort Peck Lake:

  • Vast Reservoir: Fort Peck Lake is one of the largest man-made reservoirs in the United States, offering endless opportunities for exploration.
  • Fishing Diversity: Anglers can catch a wide range of fish, including walleye, northern pike, catfish, and lake trout.
  • Wildlife Sightings: The lake’s shoreline is a habitat for various bird species and wildlife, making it great for wildlife enthusiasts.
  • Remote Camping: Campers can find secluded spots for a wilderness camping experience along the lake’s shores.
  • Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy waterskiing, jet skiing, and sailing on the expansive lake.

Recommended Gear: Anchor, Dry Box, Sunscreen, Marine Radio, Paddle , Compass, Rope


Holter Lake

Holter Lake, cradled by the Montana wilderness, is a serene retreat for boaters in search of a tranquil escape. Set against a backdrop of rugged beauty, this lake is a haven for anglers, outdoor enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a quiet respite. Boasting excellent fishing opportunities, scenic views, and opportunities for hiking, it’s a place to enjoy nature’s simplicity and beauty.

Reasons to Boat in Holter Lake:

  • Scenic Beauty: Holter Lake is situated amidst the stunning Montana wilderness, with opportunities for wildlife sightings.
  • Fishing Haven: The lake is a favorite among anglers for its trout, walleye, and perch fishing.
  • Water Recreation: Boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding are popular activities on Holter Lake.
  • Hiking Trails: Several hiking trails around the lake provide opportunities for on-land adventures.
  • Camping: Campsites are available for those who want to enjoy the tranquility of the lake and its surroundings.

Recommended Gear: Rope, Compass, Paddle, Cooler, Sunglasses, Snacks, Anchor


Seeley Lake

Seeley Lake, nestled within the lush Lolo National Forest, is a hidden paradise for those looking to embrace the great outdoors. Surrounded by dense forests and a serene setting, this lake offers a calm and idyllic space for boaters, anglers, hikers, and birdwatchers. With crystal-clear waters and abundant opportunities to connect with nature, Seeley Lake provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Reasons to Boat in Seeley Lake:

  • Pristine Wilderness: Seeley Lake is surrounded by the lush Lolo National Forest, offering a serene and unspoiled natural setting.
  • Fishing and Canoeing: Anglers can catch a variety of fish, and canoeing and kayaking are popular on the calm waters.
  • Hiking and Biking: The area provides numerous trails for hiking and mountain biking, allowing for exploration of the surrounding wilderness.
  • Camping: Campsites are available for a peaceful outdoor experience near the lake.
  • Birdwatching: Bird enthusiasts can spot a range of bird species in the area, including waterfowl and songbirds.

Recommended Gear: Life Jackets, Compass, Anchor, Tarps, Marine Radio, Cooler, Sunscreen


Bighorn Lake

Bighorn Lake, with its dramatic canyons and expansive waters, beckons boaters to explore its picturesque landscapes. A hub for water sports, fishing, and camping, this reservoir is a versatile playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Set against a backdrop of stunning canyon scenery, Bighorn Lake offers an adventure-packed experience surrounded by natural beauty.

Reasons to Boat in Bighorn Lake:

  • Impressive Canyon Scenery: Bighorn Lake offers dramatic canyons, making it a visually striking destination for boating.
  • Water Sports: Boaters can enjoy water skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing in the open waters of the lake.
  • Fishing Opportunities: Anglers can try their luck at catching a variety of fish, including catfish, walleye, and trout.
  • Camping and Picnicking: Several campgrounds and picnic areas are available around the lake, providing a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.
  • Wildlife Observation: Bighorn Lake is a habitat for diverse wildlife, offering chances to spot animals such as deer, bald eagles, and waterfowl.

Recommended Gear: Sunscreen, Cooler, Paddle, Sunglasses, Marine Radio, Waterproof Phone Case, Dry Box


Lake Elmo

Lake Elmo, conveniently located near Billings, Montana, is a welcoming urban oasis for boaters and families. With its family-friendly atmosphere, sandy beach, and accessible amenities, the lake provides an ideal place for relaxation and recreation. Whether you’re looking for a quick escape from the city or a leisurely day on the water, Lake Elmo offers a perfect opportunity for both.

Reasons to Boat in Lake Elmo:

  • Convenient Urban Boating: Lake Elmo is located near Billings, Montana, making it an accessible option for urban boating and recreation.
  • Family Friendly: The lake is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with a sandy beach and playground for kids.
  • Fishing: Anglers can catch a variety of fish, including trout and bass.
  • Swimming and Picnicking: The lake offers swimming areas and picnic spots, ideal for a day of relaxation.
  • Water Sports: Kayaking and paddleboarding are popular activities on the calm waters of Lake Elmo.

Recommended Gear: Sunglasses, Paddle, Sunscreen, Dry Box, Waterproof Phone Case, Anchor


Hebgen Lake

Hebgen Lake, set against the picturesque Gallatin National Forest, is a tranquil haven for boaters and outdoor enthusiasts. With its scenic mountain backdrop and excellent fishing opportunities, the lake provides an escape to nature’s beauty. Whether you’re seeking a day of fishing, water recreation, or simply a peaceful lakeside retreat, Hebgen Lake offers an ideal setting for all.

Reasons to Boat in Hebgen Lake:

  • Scenic Mountain Backdrop: Hebgen Lake is surrounded by the stunning Gallatin National Forest, offering picturesque mountain views.
  • Fishing Paradise: Anglers can catch trout and other fish species, making it a prime fishing destination.
  • Water Recreation: Boating, jet skiing, and kayaking are popular water activities on the lake.
  • Camping: Campgrounds are available, providing a base for outdoor adventures in the area.
  • Yellowstone National Park Proximity: Hebgen Lake is near Yellowstone National Park, making it a convenient base for exploring the park’s wonders.

Recommended Gear: Compass, Anchor, Cooler, Rope, Tarp, Snacks, Sunscreen

Related Posts:

Orange dry bag on a rock beside a turbulent stream

Best Dry Bags

When you’re heading into the great outdoors, having the best dry bag by your side can be a game-changer. Whether you’re embarking on a kayaking

Happy smiling Family in a canoe with matching orange life jackets for the parent and kids

Best Life Jackets for Kids

Whether you’re taking your kids out on a boat, heading to the beach, or just spending time near the water, safety should always be a

Close up of Manual Hand Crank Boat Trailer Winch with Blue Strap

Best Boat Trailer Winches

Launching and retrieving a boat from a trailer can be a daunting task without the right equipment. A boat trailer winch is an essential tool