Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

4.7
#2 of 120 in Nature in Montana
Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. It is located at in Flathead County in the U.S. state of Montana. Lake McDonald is approximately 10 miles (16 km) long, and over a mile (1.6 km) wide and 472 feet (130 m) deep, filling a valley formed by a combination of erosion and glacial activity. Lake McDonald lies at an elevation of 3,153 feet (960 m) and is on the west side of the Continental Divide. The Going-to-the-Sun Road parallels the lake along its southern shoreline. The surface area of the lake is 6,823 acres (27.6 km2).The lake is home to numerous native species of trout, and other game fish. Catchable species include, but are not limited to - westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, bull trout (char), lake trout (char), Lake Superior whitefish, mountain whitefish, kokanee salmon (landlocked sockeye), and suckers. However, the lake is nutrient-poor and is not considered a prime fishing destination. Grizzly bears, black bear, moose, and mule deer are found in many places near the lake but are most common on the north shore. The lake is surrounded by a dense coniferous forest dominated by various species of spruce, fir, and larch.
Using our world travel planner, Glacier National Park attractions like Lake McDonald can form part of a personalized travel itinerary.
Source
Improve this listing »
Create an itinerary including Lake McDonald
map
© OpenMapTiles © OpenStreetMap contributors
Lake McDonald Reviews
Rate this attraction
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
704 reviews
Google
4.6
TripAdvisor
  • While cruising the “Road to the Sun” Highway we made a stop at Lake McDonald and walked the shoreline. Beautiful views and many great picture spots. The variety of colored stones washing in with the w...  more »
  • Lake McDonald is huge! You can stop at a number of places or just view it as you are driving by!!!!!  more »
  • Took the one hour boat cruise on board the 90 year old wooden craft that was spotless and in great condition. The tour included educational commentary by a National Park Service guide who provided the...  more »
Google
  • This is a beautiful lake!! Lots of places to pull off to check out the lake and mountains. The rocks are so pretty. Had a picnic at a few spots on the water. Seen some deer come down to the water and hang out on the shore line. Great kayaking with Crystal clear water! Love this place
  • Immediately inside Glacier National Park at the Apgar Visitor Center, is where you join the 'Going to the Sun' Road. Lake McDonald lies just to the left of the road. It is 10-miles long and you will drive along it's length. It's narrow and quite deep so the water is clean, fresh, and cold making it ideal for fishing for several varieties of trout. Lake McDonald Lodge is near there. You can also find equipment rentals at the Lodge. As it had been raining when we were there, we got out just to take photos. The water is clear and the pebbles at the bottom are many beautiful colors. The shoreline is tree-lined and there are pull outs. These are the safest way to see the lake and take photos. We did stop in at the lodge and took some photos there as well. It was built in 1913 and has been designated as a National Historic Landmark since 1987. Bar at the Lodge. Check with local regulations for pets in the Lodge.
  • This is a gorgeous lake, and there is just so much to do on it. You can rent kayaks and boats right on the lake, or just wade out and go swimming. I was actually surprised by how warm the water was as well. The rocks are stunning in the water. This is the largest lake in Glacier National Park. It does get extremely buys, as it is one of the primary locations on this side of the park.
  • There is a lot to Lake McDonald (cabins, lodge, store, beach). We had a free afternoon in the park after doing a morning hike, and our young kids (age 7, 8, 9, and 10) wanted to swim. We went to the beach just below the lodge. It was a relaxing day letting the kids play in the water while taking in the breathtaking view. The water was cool, but definitely not cold. I found it refreshing to get in. We stayed for about 2 hours letting the kids swim and play. On our way out we stopped at the convenience store. There was quite a selection of souvenirs and we bought a few of them.
  • Beautiful you can see to the bottom of the lake it was so clear. We rented a motor boat for $25 lots of fun
Places to stay near Lake McDonald

Plan your trip to Glacier National Park

  • Get a personalized plan

    A complete day-by-day itinerary
    based on your preferences
  • Customize it

    Refine your plan. We'll find the
    best routes and schedules
  • Book it

    Choose from the best hotels
    and activities. Up to 50% off
  • Manage it

    Everything in one place.
    Everyone on the same page.

Plans to Lake McDonald by other users

6 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular sights PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 7 days in West Glacier BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, outdoors, beaches, wildlife, slow & easy, popular sights PREFERENCES: June, outdoors, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Slow & easy 8 days in West Glacier BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, outdoors, beaches, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: June, outdoors, beaches, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM JAPAN June, teens, culture, historic sites, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: June, teens, culture, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in United States & Waterton Lakes National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, popular sights PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular sights PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 22 days in Montana BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM October, culture, historic sites, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: October, culture, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, outdoors, relaxing, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: August, outdoors, relaxing, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 8 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES May, kids, popular sights PREFERENCES: May, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 17 days in Montana BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches, popular sights PREFERENCES: June, kids, outdoors, relaxing, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 7 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular sights PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium 16 days in Glacier National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites, wildlife, popular sights PREFERENCES: June, outdoors, romantic, beaches, historic sites, wildlife ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular sights PACE: Medium
View more plans