Road Trip To Glacier Days 3-5: Flathead Lake

Visit Dates: July 12-13, 2021

After visiting the Inland NW Rail Museum we headed to Couer d’Alene, Idaho for the night. When we went out for dinner at Anthony’s – a place we could walk to, the joint was hopping. We grabbed two spots at the bar, had a couple of drinks and ordered dinner. I had a wonderful salad with trout. It’s been a while since I’ve sat at the bar; it was a hoot watching the flirting couple next to us and the bartenders and back bar people talking among themselves. After flirting for a while, the couple next to us went out to their car for a few minutes then returned to their drinks. Just sayin.

We woke up early the next day to head over to Flathead Lake in Montana. As on the previous drive, we could have taken a faster route but I wanted to follow the railroad (another shut out day Train-wise).

Our route from Couer d’Alene, Idaho to Flathead Lake, Montana

We stayed at a Best Western about a mile up the highway from the north end of Flathead Lake. We looked at booking a room, but the price was prohibitive. We figured we could visit the lake. After a quick dinner up in Kalispell we headed back to our room to relax and wait for the next day’s adventure. We stayed two nights at the motel so we could have a full day at the lake. First we drove an almost-complete loop of the lake before stopping at a small beach on the northeast shore.

View of Flathead Lake on Google Maps

Smoke from multiple fires in the west discouraged us but we were determined to keep to our plan. That changes later in the trip. Here are a couple of pictures showing the amount of smoke and haze in the area. The Rockies in the picture below are not really far away. The locals told us that on a clear day the mountains were spectacular, but this summer there had been uncharacteristically hot and smoky. The whole west has been hot; in June we pushed the thermometer above 110° (F of course) an all-time record

Smoke and haze gray out the view of the mountains.
Not as much smoke to the southwest – but it’s still there

All that haze meant I couldn’t would have trouble getting landscape pictures I wanted, so I focused on what was right in front of me. We found a nice public beach on the northeast edge of the lake. We found table where we could eat our lunch and some cherries we picked up at a farmer’s stand. Our spot featured the perfect spot to put out chairs where we could dangle our feet in the water. It was hot and smoky, but we were having a nice day.

We set up our chairs here and dangled our feet in the cool water

Lots of families were there, but the lake and day area didn’t feel crowded.

Families enjoying Flathead Lake

I put a circular polarizer filter on the 18-135mm lens mounted on my Sony A6600 with the and went wading in the clear water.

Rocky beach – shot through the clear water.

I waded out a little deeper for another shot of the rocky bottom. Taken at more of an angle we get a little more diffraction through the water

Less smoke in the southwest was promising for our ride home, but the smoke in front of us was unsettling. There was a fire burning near Lolo Pass which is where we would be driving on our way home from Glacier National Park. We kept a close eye on things and changed our plans as you’ll see.

After a terrible dinner at the Montana Club in Kalispell, MT we went back to our hotel. On the next day (Day 6) we would finally get to Glacier National Park. Tune in next time for our eastbound trip through the park.

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