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Lake McDonald Paddle

Glacier National Park

Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, Montana

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Lake McDonald Paddle

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  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village with the Continental Divide in the distance.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Crystal-clear waters of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Crystal-clear waters of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • View of the Continental Divide to the east of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • View of the Continental Divide to the east of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Boats for rent at Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • Lake McDonald from Apgar Village.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • View of the Continental Divide to the east of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
  • View of the Continental Divide to the east of Lake McDonald.- Lake McDonald Paddle
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Rental. Lodging and retail. Exceptional views and clear water.
Cons: 
Possible crowds with waits for parking and rentals.
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Region:
Glacier + Northern Lewis Range, MT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Site characteristics: Water: 
Lake
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Portage required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
10.00 mi (16.09 km)
Water difficulty: 
Easy / Class A
Current Local Weather:
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Paddle Description

Paddle Description

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Lake McDonald is the largest lake in Glacier National Park, measuring in at 10 miles from east to west, more than a mile wide from north to south, and 472 feet deep. Located just on the west side of the most dramatic mountains of the park, the lake sits at an elevation of 3,153 feet and fills a valley that was carved out long ago by a combination of erosion and glacial activity.

When it comes to paddling on Lake McDonald, Apgar Village is your destination. While Lake McDonald Lodge is the largest lodge on the Lake, from that location you can only get on board the ferry boat. To rent or throw in your own canoe, kayak, SUP or even small motor boats (the latter being by rental only), you’ll need to head to Apgar.

From the lake-going vessel of your choice at Apgar Village, you will have a truly spectacular view into Glacier National Park. The sharp edge of the Continental Divide towers over the lake to the east, making for a picturesque reflection off of the water. And speaking of the water, Lake McDonald is crystal clear. Especially from a paddleboard, you can see deep into the waters to watch fish swim below and enjoy the unique and multi-colored rocks below.

Surrounding the boat dock at Apgar Village are a good amount of amenities including a visitor center, a general store, an ice cream shop, and a large gift shop. The cabins, hotel rooms and campgrounds in and just around the village are all for rent, but they fill up fast and early in the year. 

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Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(9 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(48 within a 30 mile radius)

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