Tally Lake, Montana

Montana is known for its scenic beauty, which is highlighted by landscapes such as Yellowstone and Glacier National park, both of which are spectacular topographic examples of what makes this state special.

If you want unobstructed views of Montana’s skyscapes, or experience Western hospitality, then Flathead County offers you just that. It is abundant in beautiful views and recreational activities, and one of the most beautiful lakes in the county, Lake Tally.

Tally Lake is around twenty miles to the western side of Whitefish. It is a popular lake for recreational activities like fishing, boating, cliff jumping, and swimming, as well as hiking through the neighboring trails, and is noted for its considerable depth and peculiar geology.

Lake Tally Statistics

Despite its size, the lake is warm in late summer because of the high quantities of tannins, which also give the waters a dark color.

Because of the tannins, the lake absorbs heat more than other waters in the vicinity. But if you do not want to swim, then there are plenty of other things to do at Tally Lake.

The lake is a natural freshwater lake that has not been dammed. It is also considered a full pond and has a normal elevation of 3,349 feet, and a maximum depth of 492 feet.

It is an oligotrophic lake, which means that though the lake is normally clean and deep and there are no weeds or algae blooms, Tally Lake is poor in nutrients and does not support vast fish populations.

However, oligotrophic lakes create a strong food chain capable of supporting a substantial population of larger game fish, so chances are that you can have a nice time fishing when you visit.

Activities in Lake Tally

activities in lake tally
Image: Forest Service Northern Region

Tally Lake’s campsite serves as the base for most watersports on the lake, but these activities are not restricted to the park’s approved swimming area.

Jumping from the hundred-foot cliffs into the lake is a time-honored but unofficially authorized pastime. This activity has been enjoyed by several generations at Tally Lake. However, Forest Service authorities caution that no one’s safety is guaranteed and that jumpers can get wounded.

Tubing is popular at Logan Creek when the water is not too high due to spring floods or too low during late summers, which makes the rocky bottom hard to avoid.

Apart from this, there are a lot of other summer and winter activities that you can enjoy when you are in Tally Lake, Montana.

Fishing in Tally Lake

Tally Lake’s boat launch welcomes many tourists who bring their powerboats so they can take part in summer activities such as water skiing. Others go out on boats solely to focus on fishing.

The lake has large populations of brook, rainbow, lake trout, and bull trout, the occasional sturgeon salmon, perch, the northern pike, and kokanee, which is perfect for fishermen who just wish to relax rather than bring in a large catch.

Because Lake Tally is oligotrophic and has a low population of fish, fishermen target trophy fish rather than multiple smaller ones for a picnic or nice beach cookout.

Fly fishing is highly popular in the area’s streams, with presumably higher results.

Tally Lake Campground

tally lake campground

Tally Lake Campground is popular for visitors in the region and Whitefish locals. The picnic grounds are frequently visited by parties and families who come to enjoy the horseshoe pits, open pavilion, and volleyball courts.

Moreover, if you do not want to enjoy land-based activities, you can definitely have a swim if you want.


A trail leads to a spotting scope location, which is great for those who want to learn about the landscape surrounding the lake and have limited or no hiking experience.

Other routes, such as the Tally Lake Overlook Trail, have difficult terrain and are best for those who have experience in hiking.

Accommodations are available for both solitary or camping in groups; reservations are recommended because there are forty campsites and they all fill up quickly during the camping season.

Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders may access a variety of routes from the campsite, with more trailheads situated in the Flathead National Forest.

Best Season to Visit

You can make your reservation at their official website. The open season starts in mid-May and extends to late September, so you can easily get yourself a spot.

The best seasons, however, are July and August, when you can go rafting or kayaking. Typically, the kayaking and paddle boat rental fees range from $10 an hour, $25 for half a day, and $40 for a full eight-hour day.

Camping Site Info

For a camping site, you can pay $20 for a single site, and $40 for a double site. If you have an extra vehicle, then you will be charged $5, the same fee is charged for day use of the camping site.

There are discounts and passes that you can take if you have recently moved into the area, such as the Annual Season Pass.

This is offered by Flathead National Forest day-use facilities managed by Flathead Valley Campground (FVC) are available for $35, but you can purchase two for $55.

Enjoy the Wildlife at Lake Tally

enjoy the wildlife

The region is filled with wildlife, including bald eagles, ducks, and migrating birds. The Flathead Audubon Society publishes guides to frequent species observed in the region, including information on timings and places to watch them.

Bear, elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mule deer, mountain lion, whitetail deer, and Rocky Mountain goat are among the large creatures found in the area, as are wolves and a variety of other mammals.

The Forest Service urges tourists to be aware that this is grizzly bear territory and that hikers should be familiar with guidelines for avoiding interaction with these animals.

Other Activities in Lake Tally

In the winter, cross-country skiers and winter campers frequent the region near Tally Lake. Some parts of the Flathead National Forest are open to hunting, depending on the season.

So if you want to get the best game, the Forest Service leases cabins to individuals who prefer a traditional roof over a tent.

Whitewater rafting and downhill skiing are two more popular activities in the region. These are available in the town of Whitefish, with numerous well-known slopes on Big Mountain which borders the town.

Local guest ranches in the Whitefish area provide rafting and fishing experiences, as well as guided tours of adjacent Glacier National Park.

To know more about fishing, camping, cabin rental, hotels, etc., you can ask the local authorities and visit sites to see what your options are.

Places to Stay

There are several areas of private land in the region surrounding Lake Tally, many of which are on roads leading up to the lake. Visitors will only find campsites along the lakefront, but there are multiple resorts, ranches, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and cabins or houses available for weekly rental.

A number of these facilities are listed as a convenience by the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce. So, whatever your hobbies are, you’ll be able to book something that suits you.

Stay at Whitefish

Whitefish has a wide collection of motels and amenities to keep tourists comfortable. Whitefish, a tiny town, has managed to retain its western ambiance while providing tourist favorites such as local crafts, antique stores, eccentric boutiques, and fascinating eateries.

The Stumptown Historical Society Museum provides a window to the past with numerous original Whitefish region images, a reconstructed train station, and displays documenting pioneer history in the Flathead Valley.

Those looking for a more creative experience will appreciate the contributions of the Whitefish Theater Company. Their theatrical group, which is almost thirty-five years old, is still present thanks to the efforts of local businesses and ticket sales to passionate spectators.

For a more luxurious vacation experience, you can enjoy your trip by staying at the Ranger District Station at Whitefish, where you can find many hotels and lodges to choose from.

The Grouse Mountain Lodge

The Grouse Mountain Lodge is the closest accommodation that you will find to Lake Tally and is a smoke-free establishment, which is one of its most appealing features.

The hotel offers twenty-four-hour front desk assistance for the comfort of its guests, as well as ATM and financial services.

Grouse Mountain Lodge’s communal areas are air-conditioned, and it has picnic spots, a large terrace, gift shops, and a newsstand. The fireplace in the lobby is really beautiful and gives a nice feeling of being in a rustic cabin.

Their recreational facilities include an indoor pool, a spa, a wellness center, a sauna, and other on-site spa services. Wedding services, tour help, bellhops, dry cleaning and laundry services, a concierge, and complimentary newspapers in the lobby are also available at this hotel.

Duck Inn Lodge

Duck Inn Lodge is a great place to stay near some of Whitefish’s most famous attractions, including Dick Idol Signature Gallery and Stumptown Ice Den.

Their rooms include a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and lounging areas, while Duck Hotel provides complimentary internet services.

It also offers other services, which include a front desk that is available twenty-four hours, a sun terrace, and outdoor chairs. Guests may also enjoy complimentary breakfast throughout their stay. As a guest, you also get free parking which is a bonus.

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