The 11 Best Beaches in Montana You Should Visit

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Being that Montana is comfortably tucked into the middle of the United States, you probably don’t think of this state when it comes to beaches.

As a matter of fact, you probably are more likely to think of mountains and wide-open plains. However, Montana is a great place to enjoy some beach time. 

The state is home to some of the largest natural and man-made lakes in the United States. These bodies of water provide some of Montana’s communities with great beaches for swimming, water sports, and some of the best fishing anywhere in the world. 

Because most people visit for the mountain views, you’ll find that many of the Montana beaches in the state are quiet and relaxed, and free of the crowds that you’ll find on coastal beaches.

Here’s our list of Montana beaches that you should visit.

11 Montana Beaches You Should Visit

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1. Lake McDonald Beach — West Glacier

Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park and is located on the west side of the Park.

This massive lake is nearly 10-miles long and almost 500-feet deep at its deepest point. It is a widely popular place for tourists to visit on their journey through Glacier National Park because it is so large.

Much of the lake is easily accessible from the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which means that many of the beaches along this lake are also easily accessible.

One thing that is important to point out about beaches on Lake McDonald (as well as many of the beaches at other lakes within the Park) is that they are not sandy beaches.

The beaches here are gravel beaches, so they are still easy to sit on and enjoy a picnic or the views, but you’ll not end up with sand in all of your pockets, shoes, bags and food, which is a nice benefit.

2. Bozeman Beach — Bozeman

Bozeman Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Montana. Located on the shore of Glen Lake just a short drive from downtown Bozeman, this lake is a popular summer time spot for locals to enjoy a cooldown on a hot day.

Glen Lake and Bozeman Beach are the center points of Glen Lake Rotary Park. In this park, you’ll not only enjoy the water and beach but there are also a number of other amenities that make this a great place to spend the day.

Along with the beach, the park offers volleyball courts, climbing rock, a playground, fishing and diving dock, and picnic shelters. There are plenty of ways to pass the day at Bozeman Beach. 

Bozeman Beach is 2-miles from downtown Bozeman, so it’s a short drive. Or, hop on your bike and use the city’s network of trails to see some sights and get some exercise on your way to the beach.

3. Wayfarers / Flathead Lake State Park — Bigfork

Wayfarers Park and beach are located within Flathead Lake State Park. Flathead Lake is one of the largest natural lakes in Montana and is home to some of the most iconic views in the State.

The Wayfarers area of Flathead Lake State Park is a popular stopping point for people that are traveling the Continental Divide Trail.

The beaches at Wayfarers are unique. While some are typical sandy or grassy beaches that are common at lakes around Montana, some of the “beaches” in the park are actually rock cliffs that are perfect for enjoying the views and swimming.

Many of the beach areas in Wayfarers have picnic tables and fire rings so you can enjoy a nice meal while taking in the views.

Flathead Lake State Park is near the resort town of Bigfork. This community has plenty of amenities including lodging and dining.

If you want to camp at Flathead Lake State Park, Wayfarers has 30 campsites, including hike-bike sites perfect for those traversing the Continental Divide Trail.

4. Boettcher Park Beach — Polson

Boettcher City Park is one of the most popular parks in Polson, MT. Polson is located on the southern tip of Flathead Lake. Its location gives it a unique opportunity to have a number of different parks along the lake shore.

Boettcher Park is one of four lake-front parks in Polson. It is also one of the most popular. This park is located next to Polson Country Club and golf course and has plenty of great amenities.

The beach is small, but usually pretty quiet. There is a nice playground for your kids, and there are picnic shelters that you can rent, or use (reservations or rentals are not required) to get out of the sun, and enjoy a nice lunch. 

One of the nice amenities that this park and beach has that you won’t find at others is an on-site café. Check out The Boardwalk, which offers snacks and sandwiches.

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5. Brush Lake State Park Beach — Dagmar

The beaches at Brush Lake State Park are quiet and peaceful. This deep and very clear lake has sandy, white beaches that are tucked next to beautiful grassy fields.

Brush Lake State Park is not as popular as some other places in Montana, but if you’re looking for a spot to enjoy wide open spaces and blue skies that go on forever, this is a perfect place for you.

The beaches at Brush Lake State Park are perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, and boating. However, this lake is not good for fishing.

The alkaline waters do not support fish populations so if you’re looking for a good fishing beach, this is not the spot for you.

6. City Beach — Whitefish

Located in the northern part of Flathead Valley, Whitefish is a popular resort town that is most well-known for its ski resort. However, Whitefish is also set on the southern shore of Whitefish Lake, a 7-mile-long natural lake. 

City Beach in Whitefish is a popular spot for locals to spend warm summer days. The glacial lake has a public access beach that is perfect for swimming, paddling, and even boating.

City Beach is a public park in Whitefish, so you’ll find plenty of amenities besides the beach. The park has designated swimming areas, picnic tables, gazebos for shelter, and grassy areas where you can spread out a blanket and relax.

During the summer, Whitefish Outfitters & Tours provide kayak and paddle board rentals at City Beach, and if you need a snack, there’s a refreshment stand during the summer as well.

7. Mystic Lake Beach — Fishtail

If you are really looking for a beach in Montana that is off the beaten path, then the beach at Mystic Lake is the spot for you.

Mystic Lake is a deep, mountain lake located in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. This beautiful lake is accessible only by a 3-mile hike through the wilderness.

Motorized vehicles are not permitted in the wilderness area, so you really do have to work to get to this spot.

Mystic Lake isn’t popular as a swimming beach, since it is located at a high elevation and the waters are pretty cold.

However, if you are looking to fish an amazing Rainbow trout fishery, this lake and its peaceful beach is the perfect place to cast-in

8. Black Sandy State Park Beach — Helena 

Black Sandy State Park is one of the only public access locations on Hauser Reservoir.

This state park is a very popular place for boating and water skiing. Montana locals enjoy Black Sandy State Park because it is so conveniently located in Helena.

Many of the park’s 29 camping sites are located along the beach, for perfect access to swimming, paddling, and boating.

Hauser Reservoir is a popular spot for sport fishing, and many visitors have great luck catching fish from the beaches at Black Sandy State Park.

This park does not have lifeguards on duty, so swimming, boating, and other water sports are done at your own risk.

9. Cooney State Park Beach — Roberts

Located just 40-minutes south of Billings, MT Cooney State Park and Cooney Reservoir are great places to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.

The big draw to this reservoir and its beaches is the fishing. Cooney Reservoir is very popular for trout and walleye fishing. Trout are easily caught from the beaches, while you’ll want to use the beach and boat docks to launch your boat for perfect walleye fishing.

Besides fishing, Cooney State Park beaches are great for relaxing, swimming, and enjoying amazing views. This state park is very popular for camping, and you’ll find five great campgrounds around the lake, with a total of 82 campsites.

10. Avalanche Beach — West Glacier

Avalanche Lake in the western part of Glacier National Park was named because a number of avalanches were heard and seen by explorers in the area in the late 1890s.

Avalanche Lake is fed by waters flowing through Avalanche Gorge. This is perhaps one of the most stunning lakes and beaches in Montana thanks to crystal clear, vibrant blue waters.

Avalanche Lake and its beach are accessible from the Trail of Cedars trail in Glacier National Park. This popular hiking trail is 5.5-miles long but is a relatively easy hike.

The icy cold waters of this lake make it inhospitable for swimming, and you’ll not see boats or other watercraft on this lake due to its distance from roads.

However, the beach at Avalanche Lake is a perfect place to sit and enjoy a picnic lunch and soak in a little sun and some amazing views. 

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11. Canyon Ferry State Park — Helena

Canyon Ferry Lake and State Park are located on the Missouri River just downstream from where the Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison rivers come together to form the Missouri River.

The lake has 76 miles of shoreline, and that means plenty of beach space where you can enjoy great views and a bit of peace and quiet.

Canyon Ferry Lake and State Park are just 21-miles from Helena, making this area a nice day trip if you’re staying in Helena.

Visitors to Canyon Ferry Lake enjoy boating, water sports, swimming, and fishing. The Lake’s beaches are perfect places to swim, launch your paddle board or kayak or just throw out a blanket and enjoy a picnic lunch. 

The state park has plenty of other amenities including hiking trails, motorized boat launches, and camping.

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About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a travel blogger and editor for over 5 years, working with some of the biggest brands in industry. She’s taught English as a foreign language in 5 different countries, and her most fulfilling role was as a tour guide around some of Europe’s finest vineyards. She the one behind the social channels here at Discovering Montana, whilst also finding the time to perform an assistant editor role.

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