Kintla Lake doesn’t get as much attention as some of the more well-known locations within Glacier National Park.
But this remote lake in the far north region of the park – right near the Canadian border – is a beautiful spot for campers and hikers, trekkers, and cyclists alike.
Kintla Lake can be reached by vehicle and is located approximately 40 miles from the park’s west entrance.
Admittedly, the lake’s road access is sketchy for some cars. Generally speaking, you’ll need an SUV or all-wheel drive vehicle to comfortably get there, but it can be done if you take it slow and steady in other cars.
The road’s rough, but the peaceful quiet, stunning views and incredible no-motors waters are well worth the drive.
Kintla Lake Stats
Kintla Lake is one of the most remote lakes in all of Glacier National Park. This inaccessibility for many helps to make it a highly “exclusive” experience for folks with a strong penchant for hiking, backpacking, and wildlife viewing or birding.
- Depth: 390 feet
- Size: 1,698 acres
- Season: Year-round
- Campsites and RV Parks nearby: 20+
Because Kintla Lake is located within Glacier National Park, there is a huge offering of activities at the lake and nearby.
From hiking and backpacking to camping, fishing, and boating – no matter how long you’re here, you won’t run out of amazing views, incredible sights, and thrilling activities.
Boating is a popular activity at Kintla Lake. There is a strict no-motor, policy, though, so don’t plan on bringing anything with an engine. Instead, use a canoe, kayak, paddleboard, johnboat, or similar.
If you don’t have your own, there are plenty of rental and tour companies nearby that can provide you with plenty of paddling opportunities.
- Rentals and Tours and rentals from Many Glacier
- Rentals from Glacier Outfitters
- Rentals and Tours with Sea Me Paddle
White Water Rafting
For a more rigorous boating experience in Glacier National Park, consider a whitewater rafting outing. The companies near Kintla Lake offer a range of trips including, partial day, half-day, one day, and multi-day trips.
Many of the trips also offer add-ons like dining, snacks, and lodging. Be sure to check websites for details and choose the right adventure from your chosen outfitter.
- Glacier Raft Company
- Rafting Trips with Wild River Adventure
- Great Northern Rafting and Resort
- Get Your Guide Day Rafting Trip
Being a backcountry, glacier-fed lake, Kintla Lake is a chilling experience for any swimmer – but swimming is permitted for those who are hardy enough to brave the frigid waters.
Most folks enjoy the views and wildlife around the lake instead of the polar dip.
Wildlife Viewing and Birding
Around Kintla Lake and throughout Glacier National Park, you’ll find a wide range of wildlife viewing and birding spots.
The many popular animals are wild, of course, and should not be approached, but they can certainly be an enjoyable part of your visit to the great outdoors.
Some of the mammals you could spot include
- Mountain goats
- Bighorn sheep
- Black bears
- Mountain lions
- Grizzly bears
You may also enjoy a great amount of birding while in the park, especially around lakes where fish live as birds swoop down to grab a meal. Some of the most commonly spotted birds include
- Bald eagles
- Northern hawk owls
- Common loons
- American dippers
- Harlequin ducks
- Clark’s nutcrackers
One of the most popular activities in Glacier National Park is photography. From wildlife spotting to wildflowers, natural lakes, smaller pools, mountains, and more, there’s a huge number of scenic backdrops to capture with your favorite lens.
Stunning vistas throughout the park draw crowds, while hiking trails offer unique views that can’t be found along roadways.
Sparkling lakes and rivers welcome wildlife of many types at varying times of day, as well, while wildflowers blooming from late summer to early autumn add splashes of color.
Fishing is permitted in Kintla Lake as well as other streams, rivers, and lakes within Glacier National Park.
Kintla Lake specifically is best known for whitefish and cutthroat trout. The trout are typically smaller in size, but the lake isn’t fished as much as many other locales, so many fishermen say they’re easy to catch.
Fish along Kintla Lake or any of the other locations in the park where fishing is permitted. The most popular spots include
Scenic Drives and Vistas
Take in the scenic vistas along stunning drives throughout the park. Pause the car, get out, stretch, take some photos and enjoy the views.
You can also take a Red Bus tour instead if you’d prefer to watch and not keep an eye on the road. The tours are very popular, though, so plan ahead to be there on schedule to snag a seat or two.
The company has three stables positioned throughout the park where you can ride out from: Many Glacier, Apgar, and Lake McDonald.
Several trail rides are available including
- Lodgepole Loop – 1 hour – $60.00
- Ride & Dine – 1 hour + dinner – $80.00
- Glacier Gateway – 2 hours – $90.00
- Cowboy Cookout – 2 hours + dinner – $165.00
- Glacier Lookout – 3 hours – $115.00
- Mountain View – all-day – $225.00
- Private West Glacier Trail Rides – varies – inquire for pricing
Museums and Educational Programs
Both inside the park and nearby, you’ll find educational experiences, museums, galleries, and more to add some variety and learning to your visit to Glacier National Park.
Within park boundaries, there are several ranger-led presentations and hikes/walks that folks may participate in.
Each program is free of charge, but they are on a first-come-first-serve basis. Check the schedule to find out when you’ll need to arrive for the given program you’d like to participate in.
Three visitors’ centers in the park welcome folks with maps, information, guides, programming, and much more – including some gift shops – where you can learn more about the park, ecology, animals, and history of the nearby region.
For a more hands-on experience, visit the Apgar Nature Center which is open from mid-June to late August.
Located near the park, you’ll find many museums, galleries, and other educational experiences.
Camping at Kintla Lake is one of the most remote overnight experiences within the park.
The towering mountains as a backdrop, miles of trails around, and Kintla Lake as the fourth largest in the park make for an excellent locale for your tent stay.
There is car camping at the campground for tents, but RV camping is not recommended in the small campgrounds.
There are 13 first-come-first-serve sites available for up to 7-night visits each. Be sure to check food storage regulations and generator usage before plugging in.
If the sites are filled up, though, there are several other campgrounds in and near Glacier National Park – about 20 or more. Those with RVs will find accommodations nearby, and all will find hotels, family sites, and remote primitive backcountry sites for backpacking only.
Hiking near Kintla Lake is one of the more popular activities in Glacier. While you can drive into the lake, there are also trails to hike in by, if preferred.
Upper Kintla Lake Trail
Upper Kintla Lake Trail is a longer hike in the Glacier. The trail is 23.2 miles long and considered challenging. Most people report it takes about 10 and a half hours to complete – and it’s a popular hike for backpackers.
The trail is light to moderate in traffic throughout the day and the trail itself remains open year-round. Most hikers advise using it from April to September though.
Dogs are not permitted on the trail, so leave them behind at the campsite!
- Distance: 23.2 miles
- Difficulty: Difficult
- Elevation Gain: 1,719 feet
- Route Type: Out and back
Kintla Lake Boulder Pass to Goat Haunt Ferry
For a longer hiker, Kintla Lake Boulder Pass to Goat Haunt Ferry is a stunning option.
The trail is 30.4 miles long and considered moderately challenging. Most folks take several days to complete the full hike and many who hike here are backpackers.
It’s a moderately busy trail, but most of the time you’ll find the trail quiet and peaceful. You’ll likely spot some intriguing wildlife and birds along the hike.
The trail is open year-round, but folks recommend hiking it between May and September. This trail is also closed to dogs.
- Distance: 30.4 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 4,819 ft
- Route Type: Point to point
Kintla Lake Campground Trail
A shorter hike at Kintla Lake is the Kintla Lake Campground Trail. The hike is just shy of 10 miles on this out and back trail and takes most folks about 4.5 hours to complete.
The trail is popular, and being shorter, tends to be more heavily trafficked than some of the longer trails.
The trail is open year-round, is closed to dogs, and is recommended by most folks for any time of year.
- Distance: 9.9 miles
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain: 875 ft
- Route Type: Out and back