Bowman Lake, Montana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Montana - Glacier Country -

Bowman Lake is located in the northwest corner of scenic Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The crystal clear waters of Bowman Lake reflect the peaks of the Livingston Mountain Range in Glacier National Park’s North Fork region. Just 32 miles south of the Canadian border, the simplicity and beauty of this glacially carved lake are part of Montana’s Glacier Country.

The plains and mountains that extend beyond Bowman Lake were originally home to the Blackfeet, Salish, and Kootenai Nations. In the early 1800’s explorers, trappers and traders started to make their way into the territory. Bowman Lake is thought to have been named after Fred Bowman, a trapper who came to Montana around 1885. Today, a trek to the North Fork region continues to be a trip for the more daring and adventuresome. Roads to Bowman Lake are rugged gravel and dirt roads meant for high-clearance four-wheel drives, not RVs or trailers. The drive takes you briefly outside the park through the tiny community of Polebridge. It is best to take advantage of this stop as it is the last opportunity to purchase supplies before heading into the park’s backcountry.

With just under two million visitors a year, Bowman Lake offers solitude not easily found in the more accessible areas of Glacier National Park. The challenging drive and remoteness of the lake limits the number of casual campers. Knowing this, Bowman Lake’s campground is a popular spot for local residents and a trailhead for wilderness hikers. Campsite amenities are limited to potable water and pit toilets. It is recommended that visitors pack repellant. Mosquitoes and black flies can be a problem in the summer.

Over 700 miles of mountain and valley trails draw hikers to Bowman Lake and Glacier National Park. Be sure to stop at one of the visitor centers where you can pick up maps and guides to all hiking trails. Follow backcountry guidelines and precautions. This is prime grizzly bear, mountain lion and cougar territory. Hiking trails vary in difficulty and terrain from dense forest to wetlands. Some trails climb over 1,000 feet, some cross open alpine meadows with lots of sun, and others loop around Quartz Lakes to the south or Kintla Lake to the north.

A boat ramp is located near the campground at the southern end of Bowman Lake. Motorized boats are limited to 10 horsepower or less on the 1,724 acre lake. To avoid the loss of native fish, none of the park’s 131 named lakes are stocked. Species found in Bowman Lake include kokanee salmon and cutthroat trout.

Bowman Lake is an ideal destination for kayaking and canoeing. Paddle along the 14-mile shoreline and photograph pine forests climbing the steep mountain slopes. Always within view are Kintla Peak, Mount Carter or Thunderbird Mountain. In the midst of unforgettable beauty, don’t forget that sudden storms are common in the mountains. Take precautions and wear the required life preservers. With a maximum depth of 253 feet, the depth of Bowman Lake’s crystal clear water is deceiving – and very cold. Water temperatures in Glacier National Park rarely exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit so swimming is not a recommended water sport. A warmer choice may be a picnic or wildlife watching where deer often wander along the shore.

Descendants of the people who first walked the shores of Bowman Lake are still here to tell their story. The cultural and history museum of the Confederated Salish and Kootenais Nation is located on their reservation south of Bowman Lake and Kalispell. The Museum of the Plains Indian is located in the community of Browning on the Blackfeet Reservation immediately east of Glacier National Park.

Amenity-rich Flathead Valley lies immediately west of the park and south of Bowman Lake. Here, outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy river rafting, hiking, wildlife viewing and fishing at Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Close to ski resorts and golf courses, the valley communities of Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Kalispell have a combined population of 25,000 residents. Home to over 2,000 artists and craftsman, the area has a nice selection of unique shops and galleries. Additional services and entertainment range from outfitters and tour guides to fine dining and performing arts centers.

Glacier Country is America’s treasure and Bowman Lake is one of its gifts. Something magical happens on Bowman Lake and continues over the thousands of acres of forests, lakes, streams and meadows surrounding Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Nestled among the mountains and valleys are vacation rentals and real estate properties that can set the stage for your stay. Whether you visit for a week or stay for a lifetime, find a comfortable place to relax at the end of a busy day, plan your next outing or simply reflect on the majesty that surrounds you.

Things to do at Bowman Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park
  • Museum

Fish species found at Bowman Lake

  • Cutthroat Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Bowman Lake Photo Gallery

Bowman Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,724 acres

Shoreline Length: 14 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,030 feet

Maximum Depth: 253 feet

Water Volume: 174,469 acre-feet

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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