Lake Josephine, Montana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Montana - Glacier Country -

One of the prettiest lakes in Many Glaciers Valley is Lake Josephine. This glacier-fed lake covers 137 acres upstream from better-known Swiftcurrent Lake and receives numerous visitors over the course of a year. A highlight of any trip to the east side of Glacier National Park, Lake Josephine takes a bit of effort to reach. The lake is termed a ‘back country lake’ because it it not accessible by car. A short boat trip across Swiftcurrent Lake and a short walk rewards visitors with spectacular views. Allen Mountain, Mount Gould, and Grinnell Point tower above the lake. Both Allen Mountain and Mount Gould reach over a mile towards the clouds.

Boat tours on Lake Josephine are also available and offer different views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The relative ease of getting to Lake Josephine makes this lake particularly attractive to those who are unable to hike longer distances. Lake Josephine is the perfect place to sit and rest while enjoying the beautiful scenery and abundant wildlife that Glacier National Park offers.

Lake Josephine can also be reached by a short hike of about a mile in length. Several backcountry campsites are located near the lake and are popular with those trying out their primitive camping skills. The Park campground near the hotel fills quickly, so many people come to Lake Josephine for a last-minute camping spot. All information is available when picking up a Glacier Park pass. One thing the rangers will make prospective campers aware of is the high population of bears, both grizzly and black bears, in the park. Although they are seldom a danger, particularly to day hikers and groups, all precautions should be observed and bear spray carried.

In late summer, the meadows are ablaze with alpine wildflowers, and in August the huckleberries are ripening (which the bears know and love so maybe it’s best to leave them to the bears). The lake holds brook trout, not big but fat and tasty. A few kokanee salmon are occasionally caught. The lake is ideal for fly-casting from a float tube or canoe. Canoes can also be carried in on the Swiftcurrent tour boat for an additional fee, but getting it the 300 yards over to Lake Josephine will be the responsibility of the owner.

The trail to Lake Josephine skirts Swiftcurrent Lake and continues on past Lake Josephine to the Grinnell Lakes and beyond. Visitors can walk around Lake Josephine; the trail is relatively flat. The trail between Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine roughly parallels Cataract Creek which holds a tiny lake usually called Stump Lake. Stump Lake is occasionally used for fishing but is little more than a wide spot in the creek, which is also a good trout stream. Numerous hiking trails in the area allow hikers to choose long or short hikes, most of which become increasingly difficult when venturing farther into the Park. Some trails connect with advanced trails along the Continental Divide. One of the shorter trails leads to Grinnell Lakes three-and-a-half miles away. Although considered an ‘easy’ trail, the elevation gain is about 1600 feet. Visitors who actually want to stand on a glacier can take this trail to a point where the glacier is reachable. Ranger-led tours are common to the location and filled with good information about the park and its history.

Most visitors to this east side of Glacier National Park will stop at the historic 1915-era Many Glaciers Hotel for lunch. The boat dock for the tour boat on Swiftcurrent Lake leaves from here. Ranger-led tours can also be accessed near the hotel and visitor center. Snacks and souvenirs are for sale, and visitors can even mail a post card; Many Glaciers Hotel even has its own Post Office. The hotel, built by the Great Northern Railway, has been carefully maintained to retain its original look and atmosphere as much as possible.

The historic hotel was at one time the starting point for horseback treks to outpost chalets maintained by the railroad and the park system. Two of these chalets are still in use, although neither is accessible by car. One can be reached on foot or horseback from the Swiftcurrent Trail, a distance of seven-and-a-half miles. Services at Granite Park Chalet are limited; visitors may use the kitchen to cook their own breakfast. Several horseback riding, rafting and boating concessions operate in the park. Any Ranger station or Park operation can provide information to locate them.

Lodgings around Glacier National Park are somewhat limited. Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is also operated by Glacier Park Inc., originally formed by Great Northern Railway, and offers both rustic hotel rooms and cabins. Another campground is located nearby. A limited number of motels, guest ranches and other forms of lodgings are located outside of the park on private land with more on the other side of the Continental Divide. Many visitors to the area make it a point to drive the Going To The Sun Road across the park where they can see a large number of glaciers, lakes and scenic mountain views. Some private real estate can be found outside the park, primarily around the small towns in the area.

Even if you thought of Glacier National Park as too strenuous to access, many scenic views in Many Glaciers Valley are accessible to nearly everyone. From the boat tours to the short walking paths to long and arduous treks along the Continental Divide, Glacier National Park offers something for everyone. Most people can manage the short walk to Lake Josephine from the boat landing on Swiftcurrent Lake. Come and marvel at the views nature has provided in this majestic and pristine alpine environment.

Things to do at Lake Josephine

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • National Park

Fish species found at Lake Josephine

  • Brook Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Salmon
  • Trout

Lake Josephine Photo Gallery

Lake Josephine Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 137 acres

Shoreline Length: 2 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 4,882 feet

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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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