Discover the Deepest Lake in Montana

Written by Taiwo Victor
Updated: February 7, 2023
© Tiffany Sims/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points:

  • Among the cleanest in the world, Montana’s freshwater lakes offer miles of beachfront for various recreational activities.
  • With a maximum depth of 445 feet, Tally Lake is the deepest lake in Montana.
  • Tally Lake is an oligotrophic lake, which means that although being typically clear, deep, and devoid of weeds or algae blooms, it lacks nutrients and cannot sustain large fish populations.
  • Also the largest freshwater lake in Montana, Flathead Lake is the clearest lake in Montana and one of the clearest lakes in the entire world.

The state of Montana is renowned for its stunning scenery, clean mountain air, and numerous national parks that are home to a wide variety of species. Among the cleanest in the world, its freshwater lakes offer miles of beachfront for various recreational activities. The best lakes in Montana, which range from huge reservoirs to pools of water sculpted by glaciers, best represent the state’s untamed and rough landscape.

Nevertheless, it is a stunning state that has earned the moniker “Big Sky Country” for its expansive, azure skies. Boating, fishing, swimming, and taking in the state’s natural beauty are common pastimes on the best lakes in Montana. Of the 3,223 officially named lakes and reservoirs in the state, which of them is the deepest? Below, we will uncover Montana’s deepest lake and other interesting facts.

What is the Deepest Lake in Montana?

Tally Lake
The deepest lake in Montana is Tally Lake.

©Tiffany Sims/Shutterstock.com

With a maximum depth of 445 feet, Tally Lake is the deepest lake in Montana. Tally Lake is located at around 3,500 feet above sea level, and thanks to its high tannin content, it holds heat better and stays warmer. This also helps the lake absorb and retain more heat than nearby bodies of water. It’s gorgeous setting with forested mountains flanking the long, narrow valley makes it the ideal site to spend an afternoon fishing. Its water is home to several local fish species, making it a go-to site for fishers and anglers.  

In Montana’s Flathead County, Tally Lake sits roughly 20 miles west of Whitefish, and is around 1,200 acres, at a height of about 3,500 feet above sea level. 

What is Tally Lake Known For?

Tally Lake serves as a well-liked lake for outdoor pursuits like boating, swimming, cliff jumping, and trekking. It is also renowned for its unusual geology and enormous depth.

The lake is an undammed, unmanaged natural freshwater lake. Moreover, the lake has crystal-clear waters that are excellent for swimming and fishing. Tally Lake is an oligotrophic lake, which means that although being typically clear, deep, and devoid of weeds or algae blooms, it lacks nutrients and cannot sustain large fish populations.

However, oligotrophic lakes develop a robust food chain that may sustain a sizable population of larger game fish, so you can likely enjoy some good fishing while you’re there.

What to Do at Tally Lake

Tally Lake is often known for its outdoor activities and recreational opportunities. Among the most famous pursuits in the lake are swimming, boating, and hiking on the nearby trails. Most watersports on Tally Lake are conducted from the campsite. However, they are not limited to the designated swimming area in the park. When the water is not too high from spring floods or too low during the late summers, tubing is famous at Logan Creek, located downstream of the lake.

It is also a time-honored but unapproved tradition to jump off the 100-foot cliffs into the lake. At Tally Lake, this pastime has been enjoyed by many generations. However, authorities from the Forest Service issued a warning that no one’s safety is guaranteed and that jumpers may sustain injuries.

In addition, Tally Lake offers a wide range of other summer and winter activities for you to participate in.

Fishing at Tally Lake

Tally Lake is a well-liked location for fishing because it is home to various fish species. These include lake, bull, and rainbow trout, perch, brook, and whitefish. Kokanee salmon, northern pike, and sturgeon can also be occasionally caught, making it an ideal spot for anglers who like to unwind rather than bring in a sizable catch.

Due to Lake Tally’s oligotrophic nature and tiny fish population, fishermen prefer to target prize fish over a large number of smaller ones for a great beach barbecue or picnic. Fly fishing is very common in the area’s streams and apparently produces better results.

Many visitors bring their power boats to Tally Lake’s boat launch to participate in summertime sports like water skiing. Some people, on the other hand, only go out on boats to fish.

Hiking and Camping at Tally Lake

A route in the area around the lake leads to a point where you may use a spotting scope, which is fantastic if you’ve never hiked before but wants to learn about the lake’s surrounding land. Other trails, like the Tally Lake Overlook Trail, offer challenging terrain and are best suited for hikers with previous expertise.

From the campsite, hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders can take a variety of routes; additional trailheads are located in the Flathead National Forest. Both residents of Whitefish and tourists visiting the area love Tally Lake Campground. Parties and families commonly stop by the picnic grounds to enjoy the volleyball courts, open pavilion, and horseshoe pits. Furthermore, you can swim if you prefer to do so instead of engaging in land-based activities.

rocky mountain goat
Rocky Mountain goats can be seen around Tally Lake in Montana.

©Jessica Lichon/Shutterstock.com

Wildlife at Tally Lake

Visitors to Tally Lake can expect to view a wide range of wildlife, including bald eagles, ducks, and other migrating birds. Also native to the region are bears (including grizzlies), elk, bighorn sheep, mule deer, moose, white-tailed deer, Rocky Mountain goats, and mountain lions.

What is the Largest Lake in Montana?

Fort Peck Lake
Fort Peck Lake is the largest lake in Montana.

©iStock.com/bobloblaw

The largest lake in Montana is Fort Peck Lake, created when the Missouri River was dammed up in eastern Montana. With more than 50 distinct fish species inhabiting its waters, Fort Peck Lake is one of your finest options if you’re seeking exceptional Montana fishing. This enormous man-made reservoir is approximately 245,000 acres and has over 1,500 miles of shoreline. Walleye, northern pike, paddlefish, sauger, lake trout, and chinook salmon are among the most sought-after species. You may go fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, bird-watching, and other outdoor activities on the vast public land at this refuge.

What is the Clearest Lake in Montana?

Flathead Lake
The clearest lake in Montana is Flathead Lake.

©iStock.com/11jasons

Also the largest freshwater lake in Montana, Flathead Lake is the clearest lake in Montana and one of the clearest lakes in the entire world. Located in the Treasure State’s northwest, the lake, created during the most recent interglacial era, is a relic of the former Lake Missoula, which existed 15,000 years ago. 

Up Next:

How Deep is Flathead Lake? Discover Montana’s Deepest Lakes: We know that Flathead Lake is the clearest lake in Montana – but just how deep is it?

The 10 Biggest Lakes in Montana: We’ve covered a few of Montana’s beautiful lakes – learn more about the biggest lakes in the Big Sky State!

The 10 Deepest Lakes in the World: Travel beyond Montana to discover the deepest lakes in the world!

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The Featured Image

Tally Lake
Tally Lake in Northwest Montana
© Tiffany Sims/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_Lake
  2. Big Sky Fishing, Available here: https://www.bigskyfishing.com/lakes/northwest-montana-lakes/tally-lake/#:~:text=Tally%20Lake%20is%20a%20scenic,a%20depth%20of%20492%20feet
  3. Discovering Montana, Available here: https://discoveringmontana.com/lakes/tally/