Experience Lake Life in the Mountains

I spent many summers on a lake at the base of the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington State. Lake life for me involved water skiing, canoeing, and lots of lounging in boats. Where can I re-enact this summertime lake life? Here are three mountain destinations where a lake plays a central role in summer fun.


Flathead Lake is the largest natural lake in the Western United States. It covers nearly 200 square miles, has 160 miles of shoreline, and is 300 feet deep in areas. One could spend a lifetime exploring this lake’s nooks and crannies.

There are multiple communities around Flathead, but if you are looking for a bustling lake town with lots of curbside appeal, look no further than Bigfork, Montana. Named one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in the Nation,” Bigfork is a community that has embraced many forms of artfrom bronze work to theater. The Bigfork Playhouse, for instance, brings in talent from across the country to perform live professional theater.

Whether you want to window shop, golf, or fish, Bigfork makes the perfect headquarters for exploring Flathead Lake in style.


Grand Lake is the quintessential mountain lake town. Located on the shores of Colorado’s deepest and largest natural lake, the area has attracted visitors for thousands of years.

Permanently settled in 1867, today, Grand Lake is a summer haven for families looking for a lakeside getaway in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. And situated just minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park, the town is an ideal place to stay for a park visit.

During the summer, the lake is a favorite with fisherman, and whether you want to take a guided trip, rent a boat, or simply want to fish the shoreline, Grand Lake is the place to be. The lake has more recently become popular with stand-up paddleboarders. Paddle boards can be rented at the Grand Lake Marina, which opens May 15.

Photo courtesy of Redfish Lodge


Located in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Redfish is a high alpine lake named for the shockingly red sockeye salmon that used to returned to the lake in mass from the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, only a small number of sockeye make it back to the lake today, but other fish are plentiful, including trout and Kokanee.

Fishing is a popular activity on Redfish Lake, but so are hiking, climbing, boating, swimming, and more. There are campgrounds aplenty in the area, but if you don’t want to rough it, Redfish Lodge offers lodge rooms and cabin rentals.

You are much more likely to hear the call of a Steller’s Jay at Redfish Lake than the ring of a cell phone. This is a place to disconnect from the stress of daily life and reconnect to nature.

Categories: The Heidi Guide