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Best Places to Paddleboard in the United States – Montana 2021

Best Places to Paddleboard in the United States – Montana 2021

Montana SUP

1: Lake McDonald

Lake McDonald SUP

The 6,823-acre lake is the largest in Glacier National Park and is a popular paddleboarding destination for several different reasons. Fish are abundant in Lake McDonald, with numerous species of Trout, Salmon, Whitefish, and Suckers all catchable with little to no limitations. If you prefer mammals to fish, you can get great pictures of Grizzly and Black Bears, Moose, and large horned Mule Deer wandering through the Spruce, Fir, and Larch trees.

Lake McDonald is calmest in the morning and evening, but the wind tends to pick up in the afternoon for paddlers who want to try out some light surfing or wind foiling. With a beautiful landscape and all sorts of wonders on and off the water, you’ll want to make a detour and visit Lake McDonald in North-West Montana.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 188
Distance to Major Cities: 3 Hours to Great Falls
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

2: Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake SUP
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake west of the Missouri River, with 197 square miles or over 62,000 square acres to explore. The lake is well known for its beautiful, crystal clear blue waters, though with an average depth of 165’ good luck trying to see the lake’s bottom!

Touring enthusiasts love to visit this lake with their paddleboards, as there are many islands such as Melita Island and Wild Horse Island that are worth exploring. You’ll find many fish and animals around the area, sharing them with Lake McDonald, paddleboarders are delighted by the opossum shrimp stocked in the lake that helps maintain the large Kokanee Salmon population.

Large lakes are usually home to large monsters as well, so if you’re into local folklore and legends, keep an eye out for the Flathead Lake Monster. Once you’re done exploring Lake McDonald, you’ll want to take a short drive to reach Flathead Lake for another magical SUPing experience.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 198
Distance to Major Cities: 3 Hours and 30 Minutes to Great Falls
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

3: Lake Como

Lake Como SUP
Part of the Bitterroot National Forest, Lake Como is a smaller but calmer lake on Idaho and Montana’s edge known for its glassy blue waters and friendly, warm sandy beaches. Boats are limited on this lake, so if you’re a new paddler or intend to go out with kids, this is a safer and more tranquil lake that will help you get adjusted to the water quickly.

While Lake Como is somewhat isolated and out of the way, several paddleboarding companies and tour guides are happy to provide lessons and set you up with the top of the line equipment. With especially warm water in the summer, Lake Como is a more secluded, quieter laker that is great for paddleboarders wanting to SUP with a bit more peace.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 159
Distance to Major Cities: 2 Hours to Missoula
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Limited
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

4: Lake Helena

Lake Helena SUP
The 2,073-acre lake is the go-to waterfront for those living in Helena and southwestern Montana. The home of several commercial Carp fisheries, many paddlers visit it not just for the fish in the lake but for the fowls that make their home on the lake. While you’re paddling, you’ll often find Sandhill Cranes, Meadowlarks, Hawks, Pelicans, and the occasional Bald Eagle sitting on the shore or trying to catch fish.

Lake Helena is delightful to visit during the summer, and while cold, it doesn’t drop in temperature as much as the other locations we’ve suggested on our list. So, if you’re looking for a paddleboarding destination that is friendly to navigate year-round, you can consider adding Lake Helena to your list.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 189
Distance to Major Cities: 15 Minutes to Helena
Motor Vehicles Allowed: Yes
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

5: Clark Fork River

Clark Fork River SUP

The largest river in Montana, you could paddle for a whole month and still have more to explore, the Clark Fork river measuring 310 miles long. Much of the river offers excellent launching points. Starting from Missoula is a fun and easy way to tour the river, allowing you to view the downtown district from the water. Brennan’s Wave is a human-made white water course that you can challenge, with a second wave currently in construction to add another fun paddling challenge.

Rainbow, Brown, and Cutthroat Trout are large and abundant in the Clark Fork River and are particularly easy to catch for those visiting in the summer. If you want to cruise along with friends, there are also slow currents that are well suited for family paddling or meditative yoga sessions. If you’re in Missoula, there are a dozen different activities you can have fun with while you’re paddling.

Average Clear Weather Days per Year: 202
Distance to Major Cities: Direct Access to Missoula
Motor Vehicles Allowed: No
Paddleboard Rentals Available: Yes

Conclusion: Plan Your Paddle Board Trip and Have Fun!

Thank you for reading our top paddleboarding destinations in Montana! While we’ve had the chance to visit a couple of places on this list, a few of them were added based upon other paddlers’ recommendations. If you’ve been to one of these locations or have a waterfront you think paddlers should visit, let us know by leaving a comment below or sending us an email with your thoughts!

We are head at work developing top SUPing locations for each state, but while we work on our list, be sure to check out our top fifteen destinations for the whole country! At SUPBoardGuide.com, we strive to become the leading paddleboarding resource online, so visit us for the latest SUP reviews, instructional tips and guides, and in-depth SUP video breakdowns.

So stay safe, have fun, and let us know what you think of paddleboarding in Montana!

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Heyo! At SupBoardGuide.com we are a team who love the water, the outdoors, and are more than grateful that our full-time job allows us to review stand up paddle boards. We paddle year round (it helps that we are just about 2 hours outside of Las Vegas), and we bring in a wide range of paddlers with the goal of providing our readers with the best, most in-depth, and accurate stand up paddle board reviews.

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