Great Northern Mountain and Hungry Horse Reservoir, Hungry Horse, Montana
The beautiful Hungry Horse Reservoir is located on the south fork of the Flathead River, 20 miles northeast of Kalispell, Montana.
There are two routes around the reservoir. My favorite route is to drive east through Hungry Horse, Montana, on Highway 2 East. At the eastern edge of town, you will see a turn for the Hungry Horse Dam and Hungry Horse Reservoir on your right. Take that right hand turn. You will pass by the pretty Lion Lake, and eventually to the Hungry Horse Dam, and then you will follow the road over the dam and continue driving along the reservoir.
The reservoir is a popular recreational area during the summer. The windy channels and the available islands are ideal for camping and boating. If you have a boat, you can camp out on the one of the islands. You can also fish here for whitefish, bull trout, and cutthroat trout. Click here to view the Topo map. There is a map of the various camping areas just over the dam, but there are so many to choose from, you may want to explore before you make a decision. There is a day use area to put in your boat just past the dam.
The Hungry Horse Reservoir is 34 miles long, so it makes for a long, windy, narrow trip around the water. The road continues past the Reservoir to one of my favorite areas for camping in northwest Montana — the Spotted Bear Campground. To get to Spotted Bear requires driving about 58 miles from Highway 2 East, a lot of it on gravel roads, to get to this backcountry campground. However, the campground is maintained, there is fishing and hiking available, and there is a swinging bridge. This also provides access to the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the famed roadless designated wilderness area.
Even if you don’t want to camp, there are plenty of spots to stop and swim and enjoy the view. And if you visit in the spring or fall, you can drive along the road and admire the beauty. This is a nice change if you are looking for something to do close to, but outside of, nearby Glacier National Park.
The fall of 2013 we took a drive along the reservoir, and the yellow pine needles had fallen from the trees and lined the roads, making the drive especially pretty.
The Great Northern Mountain sits just above the reservoir, and is easily viewed from the west side of of the reservoir. This mountain sets a beautiful backdrop behind the water, especially when covered in snow. The mountain reaches 8,705 feet elevation, and towers over the Flathead Range in this spot. I think this is the best place to have a good view of the mountain while driving.
The Great Northern is a popular hike for climbers, but I have not hiked it personally. I have heard that it is extremely rugged, so probably only for more experienced hikers.
I think this is a lesser-known area that is more popular with locals. The Hungry Horse Reservoir is not to be overlooked as a wonderful recreational area and and a nice change from the more touristy areas.
Warm Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Montana Vacation Blog
Alex M. Neill