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Flathead National Forest

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General Information

Description - The Flathead's spectacular, rugged terrain lies adjacent to Glacier National Park and west of the Continental Divide. Glaciated peaks and alpine lakes beckon summer users to hike, camp or fish.

The Flathead has a vast area of over one million acres of designated wilderness in the Bob Marshall, Great Bear, and Mission Mountains Wildernesses. This wild country provides habitat for endangered gray wolves and threatened grizzly bears. The Flathead Wild and Scenic River, a favorite of white-water rafters, and the Swan River dissect the beauty of the Mission, Swan and Flathead Mountain Ranges.

The 15,000-acre Jewel Basin Hiking Area is managed for foot travel only; horse and motorized travel are not permitted. The North Fork, Middle Fork, and portions of the South Fork of the Flathead River are within the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System and are used for floating excursions.

Big Mountain Ski Area is located just north of Whitefish and offers world class downhill skiing and snowboarding. Ample winter snow draws cross-country skiers and snowmobilers to the Forest's backcountry.

Recreation - Almost half of the Forest's public campgrounds and picnic areas are clustered around the scenic Hungry Horse Reservoir. The remainder are scattered throughout the Forest with most located on rivers or lakes. Additional developed facilities include boat ramps, swimming areas, and trailhead facilities.

Numerous lakes can be reached by vehicle, horseback, or foot. Some have campgrounds and boat launch facilities. Other recreation opportunities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are available throughout the Forest.

Climate - Temperatures and precipitation on the Forest vary with elevation. Summers tend to bring moderate to warm temperatures with clear days. Summer highs are normally in the 70's and 80's with relatively cool to cold nights. Winter brings cold temperatures with ample snow for winter recreation activities. Winter temperatures frequently drop well below zero but clear, crisp days are common. Snowpack normally remains in the high elevations well into June or even July making some areas inaccessible until then.

Location - The Flathead National Forest is located the Rocky Mountains of northwestern Montana. The Forest sits adjacent to portions of Flathead Lake and along the western boundary of Glacier National Park. The Forest headquarters is located in Kalispell, with offices also in Whitefish, Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse and Spotted Bear.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Immersion evaluater (none, ca)
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: northfork is a chore,fishing yuk.southfork above hungryhorse superb,fishing a 10 wildlife a 10.all creeks south, dam side feeding res scenic fishing decent to great.

Filed By: Dave-O
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: Spent the week camping at Big Creek campground, which is located adjacent to North Fork River. While sites had little privacy from one another, several of the sites front the river. The campground was very quiet, perhaps due to its relatively remote location. Excellent eats and company at Northern Lights Saloon in Polebridge. I would also highly recommend you stop at the merchantile. The owner, Karen, is a wonderful person. Always helpful, friendly as can be...a real delight. She also stocks all the essentials and has a book exchange.

More Information

Contact Information:
Flathead National Forest, 1935 Third Avenue East , Kalispell, MT, 59901, Phone: 406-758-5200

Additional Information:
Montana National Forests -

Flathead National Forest - Official agency website.


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