General Information about Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana
Bowman Lake is a beautiful lake just outside Polebridge, Montana, in Glacier National Park. The lake is just over 32 miles from the west entrance near Apgar.
The road leading to Bowman Lake from Polebridge, Montana, is a dirt, bumpy, one-lane road. Not what I was expecting in a national park. Be careful on the corners, because you don’t want to come around a corner and meet another vehicle too fast! Normally a road like this wouldn’t be so disconcerting to me, but we had our (at the time) one month old baby in her car seat, and I was pretty sure all the bouncing around could not be good for her head, so I held her head the entire drive.
My concern for her also probably contributed to making it feel like it was a looong drive up from Polebridge. I think the drive is only between 5-6 miles up to the lake, but it sure felt like it just kept going and going. I will let you know this summer how the drive is, and if I think it is as bad or not.
There is a campground at Bowman Lake, deep in the trees just off of the lake, making it nice and shaded. Do NOT bring RV’s or trucks and trailers up this road! I would not recommend it at all. The road is too bumpy and narrow, and 3-point turns would be difficult. I would stick to tent camping. Sites are on a first-come, first-serve basis, for $15 dollars per night. There was lots of camping available when we were there.
If just visiting for the day, you can park and walk down to the lake. There is not that much parking available (unless you are staying in a camping site). The general parking lot is actually quite small, and we just got lucky when we went and someone was leaving so we found a spot. There is also a picnic area available to enjoy lunch.
This is a popular lake for canoeing and kayaking.
The closest town is Polebridge, which has very limited amenities.
The one thing I would be sure to bring is bug spray! The mosquitos at the lake are absolutely terrible. They are thick and on the attack, especially down by the lake. I felt so bad for our baby last summer, cutting our time short, because I didn’t want her to get bit by mosquitos so I had her in long sleeves and pants, and it is hot in the summer.
There are many hikes that leave from Bowman Lake. Here is a great site for info on day hikes in the North Fork area: http://www.glacierhikers.com/day-hikes-north-fork.html
Bowman Lake is great because it offers as spectacular a view as Lake McDonald, but it is much less crowded and off the beaten path, giving it a wild feel.
I would definitely recommend going to Bowman Lake in the summer, and then stopping in Polebridge on your way back through for some food!
Warmest Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Montana Vacation Blog