Bowman Lake Paddle

Glacier National Park

Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, Montana

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Bowman Lake Paddle


  • Wildfire smoke makes a hazy summer morning on Bowman Lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Start early for a better chance of calm, glassy water.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Pausing on a small beach.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Paddlers on the lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • A curious young black bear near Bowman Lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Looking back toward the end of the lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Snowfields and a waterfall high above the lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Calm water makes a near-perfect mirror.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Fixed on the destination.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Secluded shores of Bowman Lake.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Beautiful scenery everywhere you look.- Bowman Lake Paddle
  • Save energy and supplies for the return trip!- Bowman Lake Paddle
Overview + Weather
Views. Quiet lake. Hiking and camping options.
Narrow dirt road.
Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, MT
Site characteristics: Water: 
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Portage required: 
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
14.00 mi (22.53 km)
Water difficulty: 
Easy / Class A
Current Local Weather:
Paddle Description

Paddle Description

Pro Contributor

Of the millions of people who visit Glacier National Park each year, only a small percentage bring their own kayak and put in on the water. If you are one of the few, you can find blissful solitude by paddling just a short distance. One of the best places to do this is Bowman Lake, a large natural catchment within the Polebridge entrance to the park.

On the near shore is the developed and sometimes crowded Bowman Lake Campground, and on the far shore is the Bowman Lake backcountry campground. It is 7 miles in between, traversable by trail along the lakeshore or by water. There is no obligation to do the full length, however. Paddling any distance out and back quickly earns you a slice of lake and incredible views all to yourself.

The backcountry site at the lake's far end allows for paddling into camp rather than hiking. More trails depart from there, including the climb to great views at Brown Pass, so it makes a great base camp for unique multi-sport adventures. Backcountry sites require a permit in advance.

There is also a small amount of red tape for putting in on the water. You must get your boat inspected by park staff as part of an invasive species prevention program. Nonnative mussels currently threaten Montana waterways, so all boats must be cleaned, drained, and dried before putting in anywhere in the park. As of summer 2017, there is no inspection station at the Polebridge entrance, so you must enter at West Glacier for inspection to get the required tag for your boat before going to Bowman Lake.

Note: The dirt road to Bowman Lake from Polebridge is narrow, winding, and two-way. Trailers are not recommended.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(38 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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