Looking for an off-the-beaten path, secluded spot to immerse yourself in nature? Located in northwestern Montana near Kalispell, Finley Point State Park is an ideal location for boaters, swim enthusiasts, and RV or tent campers.
Kalispell may be the largest city on the northwestern side of the state, but this secluded gem surrounded by tall pines is the perfect break from big city living.
Along with its sister state park, Flathead Lake State Park, it sits appropriately on Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western landscape.
How did it get so large? Easy: glaciers from Glacier National Park eventually pushed their way down into the present-day Flathead Valley, creating a lake for everyone to enjoy and appreciate.
Good news: trout is plentiful here! The lake is something of a mecca for fishermen. Because the park is within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation, a tribal fishing license is required, along with a regular fishing license.
But, a bit more about the indigeneous people who have been stewards of this land for centuries: the Salish and Kootenai people are the current tribal members in the Flathead Reservation, but this area often saw nomadic indigeneous tribes come through for its nutritive qualities.
In fact, Flathead Lake as a whole was once called “Salish Lake,” a clear nod to its residents. These days, the land is shared between the tribes and the United States government.
The surrounding area of the park comes packed with nature’s bounty, our favorite being the blossoming cherry trees of May that produce ripe and juicy fruit come July and August.
The land also has apple, plum, and pear orchards, as well as winery vineyards. (Yum!) Come at the right time of year, and you just may find a local cherry stand with fresh fruit perfect for a lakeside picnic.
While day use boating and swimming is popular at this state park and lake, many visitors take advantage of the area’s numerous campsites – 18 campsites, two of which are tent only (Primitive campers, take note of the limited space!).
Because the site sits at almost 3,000 feet, we recommend staying hydrated if you’re not from the area – especially if you’re going out on a sailboat, kayak, or canoe, all of which are available here.
With so much natural beauty, it’s hard to leave Finley Point State Park, but we want to highlight some of our favorite sites in the area – from museums to restaurants. Alright, let’s go!
Finley Point State Park Stats
- Size: 28 acres
- Season: Park & Campground: April-September; Water: Mid-May-September
- Hours: 8am to Sunset
- Nearest Body of Water: Flathead Lake
- Number of Campsites: 18
- Number of Picnic Sites: 18
- Wheelchair Accessible: Yes
Main Attractions at Finley Point State Park
We understand if you want to stay at the lake for a few days, but there are so many amazing things to explore in the area, between all of the forests, the reservation, and some amazing restaurants. Let’s explore!
Polson Flathead Lake Museum
Why do we love this museum? It’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about how homesteaders tied themselves to their new land, as well as getting our hands on local artifacts.
But let’s be honest: we came to the Polson Flathead Lake Museum for Nessie, the Flathead Lake monster.
While humans have spent countless hours seeing lake monsters during our brief time on Earth, the Nessie monster has been sighted over 50 times in Flathead Lake.
Don’t believe us? You’ll have to visit the museum to read the diaristic evidence!
Beyond cultural folklore and unsolved mysteries, our next favorite stop is the Trading Post, a general store originating in the 1880s that was moved to the museum grounds.
A piece of history, it’s stocked according to its previous owners, but you’ll find plenty of – you guessed it – cherry jams, pine-centered woodwork, scenic photography, and books by local authors.
We think this museum is a fantastic bridge from past to present, but we do wish it focused a bit more on the indigeneous peoples of the area. Other than that, it’s a perfectly good spot to get some local history and cherry BBQ sauce!
Now that we’re hungry, here’s a suggestion: the Yodeler burger from Betty’s Diner. Sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese? Yes, please!
Miracle of America Museum
Yes, we know it’s another museum, but it’s just as fascinating! This year-round America-centric museum preserves all kinds of artifacts in American history, and you’ll especially love it if you’re a car nerd.
Open 9 to 5 daily, the interactive Miracle of America Museum is a family-friendly outing that’s seen visitors from all 50 states.
Similar to the Trading Post, this location has original and recreated buildings from the early pioneer days to the 1960s.
But our favorite time to show up is the third weekend of July for Live History Days. You don’t have to be a kid to want to sit in a real fighter jet or observe arrowheads being made.
Between all of the memorabilia, artifacts, and treasures, it’s easy to fall into a rabbit hole and get stuck here for a few hours. Not that we’re complaining – who else has a saddle owned by Teddy Roosevelt? Exactly.
Wild Horse Island
Let’s head back to Flathead Lake for a moment because this spot is the largest island on Flathead Lake. A whopping 2,160 acres, it’s teeming with wildlife, from bighorn sheep to fowl to, yes, wild horses.
This island is only accessible by boat, so you’ll want to bring or rent one from the mainland. Once you arrive, though, you’ll be surrounded by an old-growth forest and numerous endangered species.
Like much of the area, Wild Horse Island has long been used by indigeneous tribes – specifically, the Kootenai tribe used it to pasture their horses. Don’t miss the steep cliff with indigeneous pictographs of bison, indicating this sight was most likely once a buffalo jump.
Be aware that this area of Flathead Lake is day use only, and the bighorn sheep will not welcome you kindly if you pitch a tent. With that in mind, enjoy!
Recreational Activities at Finley Point State Park
From hiking and biking to lakeside swimming and water sports, this area is filled with adventure. Let’s take a little deep dive into some of our favorite activities.
Hiking & Biking
The good news? The options here are limitless. The bad news? There are so many of them that you may have a hard time deciding where to start. That’s where we come in!
Our number one favorite spot is Pablo National Wildlife Refuge, which is located on Salish and Kootenai land. Because so much of Flathead Lake encompasses forests, we enjoy the marshes and wetlands of this spot.
For biking, we usually head to the kind people at Flathead Outdoors to rent a bike for our trails. Then, we head over to Crane Mountain Trails to fly down the road.
A small reminder: you’re in bear country here, so bring bear spray along for your hiking or biking adventure!
Swimming & Fishing
We’ll be honest: you’re going to be spoiled for choice on Flathead Lake, so we wanted to get you started on the right foot.
One of our favorite fishing services is undoubtedly Howe’s Fishing and Boat Charters, originally started in 1987. If you’re into ice fishing, Mike and Cindy Howe’s team will get you set up with all the proper gear.
All of the guides are experienced, which is especially helpful for those of you who aren’t as experienced (You’re all welcome on this boat charter!).
Moving on to kayaks, Sea Me Paddle is our go-to for kayak rentals on Flathead Lake. They’ve got it all: single and tandem kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, pedal boats, and more. But they’ve won our trust because they understand the unpredictability of the water and because they’re some of the nicest folks in town.
For good old swimming, you’ll find plenty of opportunities at Flathead Lake, and we really like Somers Bay, but sometimes we just stay close to the Finley Point access site.
While Finley Point does host 18 campsites, we also love Big Arm State Park because its pebble beaches just make us smile.
But the real draw? Yurts! Sometimes you just want to glamp it up before sunbathing on pebble shores: Big Arm State Park definitely offers that option. It’s also a great way to get to Wild Horse Island!
But our second favorite alternative camping spot is at Wayfarers State Park, a great site for stand-up paddleboarding and selfies with huge cliffs and hiking trails – and of course, 30 camping spots. So many options!
Trail Routes Around Finley Point State Park
Big Arm State Park Campground Loop – Length: 2 miles
We already mentioned Pablo National Wildlife Refuge, so we wanted to give a few more solid options, starting with Big Arm State Park Campground Loop.
It’s only 2 miles long, and has gorgeous views of the lake, plus those pebble beaches we mentioned. If you’re coming with a family, this is our first recommendation for a stroll before snack time.
If we’re honest, this is more of a walk than a hike, but with all the activities you’re going to be doing, a walk may be just what you need.
Hellroaring Road to Hellroaring Reservoir – Length: 2.9 miles
Okay, hear us out: it’s not as scary as it sounds – unless you see a Lochness monster, of course! This is another relatively easy route, taking around one and a half hours to complete.
Why do we love it? Shaded areas, wildflowers, calm running water, and peaceful views. It’s a popular spot for running because of the shade, but we’ll take any excuse to hike to a lake!
Keep bug spray and bear spray on you for this one – you may need them – and make sure you have your tribal permit available!
Polson Hill Trail – Length: 2.4 miles
One word: wildflowers. We love the showy flowers on this hike, but also enjoy using it as a bike trail or a mid-day hike to stretch our limbs.
A small disclaimer: this hike is closer to Polson proper, so if you don’t want to hear road noise, bring headphones and your favorite hiking playlist!
Radio Tower Road – Length: 8 miles
Let’s end with a more challenging hike: Radio Tower Road. It’s 8 miles long, so bring your water and snacks! This hike has a consistent grade, and we recommend getting to the site earlier in the day to beat the midday sun.
As the name suggests, there are radio towers at the top, but you’ll also get beautiful views of Flathead Lake. Win-win.