Every corner of Montana is filled with outdoor activities. The diversity of activities for the devoted wilderness enthusiast cannot be understated, from hiking and camping to fishing and boating.
Finding the right place to do it all can be challenging, making Lake Como in the Bitterroot Valley a true, unmissable gem.
Tucked between mountains and hills of Ravalli County off Route 93, just a few miles north of Darby, MT, and about eight miles south of Hamilton, MT, this reservoir is an underrated wonder.
Initially created in 1910 after local farmers finished Como Dam to serve as irrigation to the surrounding communities, Lake Como now serves as a late-season water source and outdoor playground.
Located in the far west of Montana at 4,252 feet, this lake is surrounded by stunning views of mountains from the trail or water, making Lake Como the perfect spot for any group to spend the day or camp for a few.
Lake Como Stats
- Approximately 900-acres
- Year-round access (Some campsites and cabins may be closed or inaccessible by car November-April and boating is limited in the late summer through winter months)
- 30 campsites spread through 3 campgrounds
There are many different ways to enjoy Lake Como. The ability to do them all in one day makes this spot special for locals and visitors alike.
Camping at Lake Como
Camping is recreating in an area as beautiful as Lake Como. With three campsites that offer tent and RV spots and a Forest Service Cabin that can be rented for up to seven days at a time, camping at Lake Como allows visitors to feel what it is like to live on the lake for several days at a time.
Lake Como Campground, also known as Lower Como, lies on the northeast side of the lake and is home to ten RV spots with electrical and water hookups separated by woods and grassy areas for privacy. This site also has handicap-accessible vault toilets and garbage service, so campers don’t have to pack out everything.
With a fee of only $25.00 a night and just a short walk or drive to Lake Como Beach, this is the perfect spot for close access to the water and privacy.
For campers hoping to do some hiking, there is no better place than Three Frogs Campground to the north of the lake. Next to the Lake Como Loop Trailhead, this site allows hikers to get an early start from one of the four walk-in tent sites or fourteen small trailer sites that can fit trailers up to 30 ft in length.
Without any electrical or water hookups, this campground requires campers to bring in their water, but it does include garbage services and vault toilets.
One of the most reasonably priced camps on the lake, Three Frogs Campground, charges $15.00 for a single site and $25.00 for a double.
Staying in a Forest Service Cabin is a fun experience for campers of any age. The Wood’s Cabin on the shore of Lake Como was built in 1928 and has access to the beach and nearby trails.
With three bedrooms and a common room, this cabin is the perfect pick for a group outing and can hold two cars and up to fifteen people for $60.00 to $100.00 a night, depending on the season.
A large porch circles the cabin for gorgeous water and forest views. The Wood’s Cabin does not have electricity or cell phone service and will make any visitor feel like they are stepping back in time and unplugging from the rush of daily life.
Swimming at Lake Como
Lake Como Beach allows visitors to enjoy the rare opportunity of playing on a sandy beach while in Montana and getting to cool down on hot days in the lake’s cool waters.
The beach includes paved parking, changing rooms, and accessible toilets close to the water for easy access to all visitors.
The Parking fee is $5.00, and the beach is only accessible during the day but makes for the perfect picnicking spot away from camp or for just a quick day trip down.
Lake Como Beach remains popular for most of the summer through August while the reservoir is full.
Fishing at Lake Como
Fishing is one of the most popular activities in Montana, and Lake Como is the perfect place to let down some line.
With the proper equipment and license, anglers could catch many kinds of trout and Mountain Whitefish. The north shore allows easy access for those wishing to stay onshore, but the rest of the lake is best accessed by boat.
Since Lake Como can be quite busy on summer weekends, the best fishing is in the early morning before the grounds and sun heat the water up too much.
Catching a large rainbow is the perfect way to start a camping trip and possibility on Lake Como.
Water and Jet Skiing at Lake Como
More than just swimming, Lake Como also offers a variety of other water activities for motorized boats.
Boaters can access the lake at the South Lake Como Boating Site near the Como Dam provides parking for boat trailers and a long, wide dock to easily launch watercraft.
Once on open water, boaters can zip around and play all day in the chilly waters through the peak of the summer until the water starts to recede around August.
Boating is restricted near the beach for the safety of swimmers, but with 900 acres of water to explore, there is no reason to stay close to shore.
Trail Routes at Lake Como
Lake Como is surrounded by several different trails, with options available for all skill levels.
Each of these nearby trails makes the perfect trip by themselves, with breathtaking views, or can be added as a way to get out of the water and see the scenery while on a camping trip.
Lake Como Loop Trail
The trail encircles the lake and is 7.9 miles, although there are many options to turn back if a 3-hour hike sounds too long.
With an elevation gain of 551 ft and a well-maintained, partially paved path, this hike is accessible to anyone who wants to get out and is a good option for kids and leashed dogs.
There are many places to enter this hike along the shore and beach of Lake Como, but the official trailhead is at the boat ramp and parking for the lake entrance.
Lake Como Loop Trail is also open for mountain bikes and is an enjoyable ride for beginner and experienced riders alike.
Along the route, there are fishing and birding opportunities, as well as a waterfall on the west side of the lake with stunning views.
Little Rock Creek Trail
This trail is a great option just south of Lake Como, with the trailhead on Lake Como rd for a more challenging hike.
The route is considered a moderately challenging out and back trail with rocky terrain, at 8.3 miles with 2,247 ft elevation through the wooded forest alongside creeks and run-off with mountain views at the top.
Dogs are allowed off-leash in some areas of the trail, making this the perfect route for pet lovers. The best time to visit is July through September, as snow and flooding can obstruct the trail in other months.
Waddell Creek Trail
Waddell Creek is another moderately challenging out and back trail but is shorter than the other trails nearby at 3.9 miles.
It has 390 ft of elevation gain and can be accessed year-round for a great hike in the summer and cross-country skiing in the winter.
This route zigzags through the Bitterroot National Forest, home to beautiful water features and mountain views. Waddell Creek Trail is the perfect pick for a quick but challenging hike with fantastic scenery.