You are here

Pets allowed
Allowed
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Hungry Horse Reservoir sits tucked in Flathead National Forest between snow-capped mountains and the looming Hungry Horse Dam, a 15-mile trek from the west entrance of Glacier National Park. Named for two freight horses that got lost one winter during the dam’s construction and returned one month later, miraculously alive, the Hungry Horse Reservoir stretches out over 23,800 acres of scenic beauty.

After five years of construction, crews completed the dam in 1953 to hold back the South Fork of the Flathead River and to create the expansive reservoir. Today locals come to enjoy Rocky Mountain views that rival the panoramas over Lake McDonald in Glacier. The reservoir road carries visitors over the 564-foot dam, where cars drive (with no stopping allowed on the dam) to reach the far side and join the paved road that snakes along the shore for several miles before it changes to dirt and gravel.

National forest campgrounds pepper the shore, and there are plenty of pullouts along the way to take in the views. Hiking trails meander up from the water’s edge into the surrounding mountains, and boat launches give easy access for watercraft. It’s common to see waterskiers and paddleboarders out enjoying the water in the summer

The reservoir may be a popular summer spot with locals, but it’s easy to find secluded hideaways and picnic spots to enjoy fishing the whitefish, cutthroat trout, and bull trout that swim in the waterway. With so much wild land around, this is a great spot to search out some of the more elusive Montana wildlife.

While the road loops all the way around the 35-mile-long reservoir back to Martin City, it’s best to explore the far side with a high-clearance vehicle and all-wheel drive. The unpaved road can be rough in spots.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Few crowds. Great camping. Scenic vistas.

Cons

Rough, unpaved road. Isolated.

Features

Family friendly
Historically significant
Backcountry camping
Boat ramp(s)
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Location

Field Guide

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.