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Once occupied by massive glaciers that carved this area thousands of years ago, the valley is now filled with spectacular sights, hiking trails, diverse species of plants and animals, historic chalets, and the grand Lake McDonald Lodge. Ten miles long and nearly feet deep High peaks surrounding the lake all show evidence of the power of glaciers to carve even the hardest of rock.

The Best Lake Hikes in Glacier National Park

The powerful glaciers that carved the broad "u-shaped" valley that Lake McDonald sits in also carved smaller hanging valleys with wonderful waterfalls that are accessible by numerous hiking trails. Constructed in to resemble a rustic hunting lodge with Swiss-influenced architecture, this warm and inviting building provides comfort for overnight guests.


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The primary lakes in Glacier National Park that people see due to road access and popular destination spots are extremely large by mountain lake standards. Most mountain lakes tend to be rather small, often times not exceeding acres.

How do glaciers shape the landscape? Animation from geog.1 Kerboodle

Yet, Glacier Park has dozens of lakes that exceed several square miles in size. Additionally, the waters of the lakes in Glacier National Park are absolutely clear - putting other mountain lakes to shame. And, not surprisingly, as the lakes receive their water from snowmelt, the water in these lakes is incredibly cold even during the warmest summer months. Considering the number and beauty of the lakes in Glacier National Park, it is somewhat surprising how little use the lakes actually get.

Glacial lake

Part of this is due to strict boating regulations - most of the lakes in the park prohibit motors on boats or allow only small outboards. The other reason is that Glacier National Park is a long way from the nearest metropolitan area, limiting the number of boats in general. All of this, of course, only adds to the beauty of these magnificent lakes.

For those who would like to do some boating on the larger, front country lakes in Glacier National Park defined as lakes you can drive too , here's a quick breakdown on what you can and cannot do:. All motorboats must be launched from a boat ramp. All boats over 12 feet must also be registered, either here in Montana or in the persons home state.

Canoes and other non-motor boats: Allowed in most waters of the park. Some waters are closed to protect critical wildlife habitat. Personal Watercraft Jet Skis: Prohibited on all Glacier National Park waters.