Needle Falls, Flathead County

Will Beck
Last Updated: March 4th, 2023

Needle Falls is technically an unconfirmed waterfall in Flathead County, Montana. The falls are deemed “likely to exist” by the World Waterfall Database, and the waterfall is marked on many topographical maps with latitude and longitude available.

There is little known about the falls otherwise, though, and very few images are available. There are two potential trails that could lead you there, the main one being White River Trail and the other being Needle Falls Overlook.

A Guide to Needle Falls, Flathead County

The 120-foot waterfall pours out from White River inside the Lolo National Forest in Flathead County, Montana. There are some hiker reports on sites like All Trails with limited reports of the waterfall.

Needle Falls Stats

needle falls stats

  • Location: Lolo National Forest, Flathead County, Montana
  • Latitude: 47.61164
  • Longitude: -113.20518
  • Stream: White River
  • Elevation: 5163 feet
  • Height: 120 feet
  • Season: Spring to autumn
  • Campgrounds and RV parks nearby: 20+ campgrounds located within the park or nearby, with hundreds of sites available

Recreational Activities Near Needle Falls

If you’re looking for outdoor recreation, Flathead County is just about as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world.

With the incredible mountain ranges, glaciers, waterfalls, hiking trails, backcountry camping, water skiing, boating, and practically any other outdoor sport at your fingertips, your days around Needle Falls will be filled with exciting activities.



You should never swim in natural waterfalls. So, if you’re wondering “can I swim at Needle Falls,” take that into account. The reason is that waterfalls are dangerous, creating undercurrents that can pull you under and take you away against your will.

Instead, find places to swim in nearby locations like Glacier National Park where there are hundreds of lakes and streams with swimming zones.

Some of the most popular spots for swimmers include Lake Josephine, Bowman Lake, Lake McDonald, and St. Mary Lake. And for backcountry hikers who crave an unforgettable polar plunge, Like Grinnell is a glacier run-off where swimming is ice cold!


All around Needle Falls, you’ll find opportunities for boating on the many lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds throughout the region.

For backcountry hikers, portage is possible to many of the lakes and rivers in Glacier National Park, while more easily accessible options exist throughout at spots like Lake McDonald and St. Mary Lake.

If you’ve got your own boat, bring it along! Or rent from a local outfitter, where you’ll find paddle boats, paddle boards, speed boats and motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and more available for use nearby.

Just be sure to check any restrictions for your chosen bodies of water, as some do not permit certain types of boating, while others restrict it completely.

White Water Rafting

white water rafting

If canoeing seems a little too “basic” for your needs, there are many opportunities to get out on some whitewater as well, all throughout the region. Bring your own gear and set out at one of the access points, or book yourself a seat on one of the many rafting tours in the area.

Be sure to check packages available before you buy, though, as there are many different trip lengths, amenities available, and add-ons granted depending on your package.

Birdwatching and Wildlife Viewing

birdwatching and wildlife viewing

Another popular activity in the region is wildlife spotting. You’ll find many impressive creatures out on your hikes and trail runs, with plenty of birding options as well. Be sure to bring your gear, but also make note that many of the animals are predators and you will want to take precautions like bear spray and a GPS locator.

Never approach wildlife, do not attempt to feed animals or birds, and simply enjoy the sights without interfering or approaching.

Some of the animals you might spot could include:

  • American dippers
  • Bald eagles
  • Bats
  • Beavers
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Black bears
  • Clark’s nutcrackers
  • Common loons
  • Coyotes
  • Deer
  • Elk
  • Grizzly bears
  • Harlequin ducks
  • Lynx
  • Marmots
  • Moose
  • Mountain goats
  • Mountain lions
  • Northern hawk owls
  • Ospreys
  • Pikas
  • Ptarmigans
  • Swifts
  • Wolverines


Whether you’re a pro or just snagging shots for your Instagram account to brag about your trip, Lolo National Forest and the surrounding region of Montana is an incredible place to be.

Keep your camera out, your eyes peeled, and plenty of memory and battery power on hand. You’ll never run out of potential subjects, from waterfalls to wildlife, and everything in between.


Fishing in and around Lolo National Forest, Glacier National Park, and the other stunning portions of the region in Montana is a popular pastime. Dip your hooks or fling your flies in

Or consider hiring a guide to take you to the best spots nearby, from Glacier Guides or Get Your Guide.


There are some incredible trails throughout Lolo National Forest, Glacier National Park, Kootenai National Forest, and Flathead National Park. In fact, while you’re in the region, you are in one of the best biking areas in the whole nation.

But not all trails are created equal. You’ll want to check the gradient, challenge rating, elevation, and more to ensure the trail will suit your needs. The following sites can help with that.

Trail Running

If trail running is your thing, you’ll want to check out the many incredible trails all around the area near Needle Falls. You may even want to make a “tour” of trails out of it, taking in some of the most incredible views you’ll ever have while out running a trail.

There are some drastic differences in the trails, so be sure to check the sites for gradients, elevation, challenge level, and more before taking off.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is a popular recreational activity for folks visiting Lolo, Glacier, Flathead, and other parks and forests in the area.

With the incredible views afforded you as you ride, the experienced guides who know history and trail lore, and the many options available as part of the packages, you’ll definitely want to consider booking a ride with one of these companies for your next great trail riding adventure.

Museums and Educational Programs

The cultural, ecological, and historical significance of Montana is some of the reasons the region is so popular with tourists.

Visiting is an educational moment waiting to happen every turn, dressed in natural beauty, intriguing historical monuments and points of interest, and fascinating tours, galleries, and museums wherever you look.

Some of the popular choices for these incredible learning experiences include


There are literally hundreds of potential campsite options awaiting you in Flathead County. From the designated campsites throughout the forest to the RV parks in the surrounding areas to the undesignated backcountry campsite options, you’ve got more options to choose from than you could ever need.

If you’re planning to hook up an RV or pitch a tent near a bathroom and campfire ring, though, you’ll need to book ahead to ensure you’ve got a site. During peak season, the sites go fast with the amenities you’re looking for. Many are reservable, but many sites are not and run on a strictly first come, first serve basis.

Hotels and Cabin Rentals

cabin rentals

Because of the great beauty of the region and the immense popularity of the locale for outdoors lovers from all over the world, there are many hotels, motels, cabins, and vacation home rentals in the area.

You can take a room at a lodge like that at Many Glacier Hotel or book into a private suite, cabin, or cabin at:

Trail Routes

trail routes needle falls

There are two known trail routes that can get you to Needle Falls. Not much information is known about either, but some hikers have reported on the trails on All Trails and various other hiking sites.

Needle Falls Overlook Trail

According to All Trails, the Needle Falls Overlook Trail is a moderately challenging 4.4 mile hiking trail located near Lincoln, Montana, in Flathead County. Most folks take about 2 hours to hike the trail and you probably won’t have a lot of company on the hike, since it is a lesser-known waterfall and trail.

Because of this solitude, be sure to hike with a partner and bring along emergency supplies such as extra food, water purification methods, and a GPS tracker.

  • Distance: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 761 feet
  • Difficulty level: Moderately challenging
  • Trail type: Out and back

White River Trail

Also, not a particularly well-known trail, the White River Trail is another potential opportunity for finding the 120-foot Needle Falls in Montana. The trail begins at Junction Trail #80 and ends at Larch Hill Pass. The trail is open for hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding.

Not much else is readily available about the trail, but a few hikers have commented about backcountry camping along the way as there are no designated sites in the area.

  • Distance: 21.6 miles (full trail)
  • Elevation Gain: Unknown
  • Difficulty level: Challenging
  • Trail type: Point to point

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About The Author

Will Beck

Will is a true digital nomad, taking his work on the road at every opportunity. His first love is coffee, with travel a close 2nd. He loves nothing more than hitting the road in his self-build campervan and visiting off-the-beaten-path places, away from popular tourist destinations.

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