Tally Lake, Montana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Montana - Glacier Country -

Also known as:  Talley Lake

Tally Lake, in Montana’s Glacier Country region, is fast becoming a favorite among the adventurous. Located 15 miles west of the town of Whitefish, the lake lies in the Salish Mountains within the Flathead National Forest, providing tons of active outdoor entertainment for hikers, campers and water sport enthusiasts. Surrounded on three sides by towering cliffs, the lake is considered to be the deepest natural lake in the State of Montana. Fed by Logan Creek, the 1200-acre lake is at low enough elevation to become warm enough for swimming. It is a favorite of recreational boaters who enjoy water skiing, tubing, wake-boarding and sailing during the summer months. The only access to the lake is via the concession-operated campground and boat launch near the mouth of Logan Creek. Only 50 miles from famed Glacier National Park, Tally Lake provides year-round outdoor activities for hikers, campers and fishermen.

The campground at Tally Lake serves as headquarters for most water-based activities on the lake, but water enjoyment is by no means limited to the designated swimming area of the park. One time-honored, although not officially-sanctioned, activity is cliff-jumping from the 100-foot cliffs into the water. A couple of generations of ‘kids’ have enjoyed this sport at Tally Lake, but Forest Service officials warn that noone’s safety is assured and that jumpers can, and occasionally do get hurt. Tubing is also popular on Logan Creek during the short window of time when the water is neither too high from springtime flooding nor too low in late summer to avoid the rocky bottom.

The boat launch on Tally Lake greets many visitors who bring their power boats and equipment to enjoy water-skiing, while others launch their boats primarily to concentrate on fishing. The lake is reported to hold some sizable brook trout, rainbow trout, lake trout, bull trout, kokanee salmon, northern pike, perch and an occasional sturgeon; however most anglers say the fishing isn’t particularly productive. At nearly 500 feet, the depth of the lake makes it quite oligotrophic, meaning it does not produce much vegetation for fish spawning and protection of the young fry. These kinds of lakes often produce a limited number of large fish rather than a large number of small ones. Fishermen here are more likely aiming to catch one of the trophy-class fish rather than a few smaller ones for a shore lunch. Fly fishing is quite popular in local trout streams in the area, with likely better success.

Tally Lake Campground is very popular with both tourists visiting the area and locals from the town of Whitefish. The picnic areas often attract groups and families to enjoy the open pavilion, horseshoe pits and volleyball courts. An interpretive trail leads to a site with a spotting scope. Other trails lead to more strenuous terrain such as the Tally Lake Overlook Trail. Accommodations are offered for both solo and group camping; reservations are suggested as the 40 campsites fill up fast. A number of trails usable by hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders can be accessed from the campground, with other trailheads located nearby in the Flathead National Forest.

The entire area is rich in wildlife, with bald eagles, waterfowl and migratory birds often sited. The Flathead Audubon Society produces a guide to some of the more common birds seen in the area, with hints on the best times and locations to spot them. Large animals in the area include bear, elk, moose, big horn sheep, mule deer, mountain lion, whitetail deer and Rocky Mountain goat, along with the occasional wolves and a number of smaller mammals. The Forest Service warns visitors to be aware that this is grizzly bear country and that hikers should acquaint themselves with practices to avoid conflict with these huge bears.

The area around Tally Lake is often visited in winter by cross-country skiers and a few hardy winter campers. Some areas of the Flathead National Forest are open to hunting, and the Forest Service rents a a few cabins in the area to those who prefer a regular roof to a tent. Other activities in the area that draw visitors are whitewater rafting and downhill skiing. Both of these activities are centered near the town of Whitefish, with several well-known slopes just outside town on Big Mountain. Local guest ranches and outfitters around Whitefish arrange rafting and fishing trips along with guided excursions to nearby Glacier National Park.

The town of Whitefish is well-supplied with lodgings and accommodations to keep visitors comfortable and well-fed. A small town, Whitefish has managed to maintain its western atmosphere while offering such tourism favorites as local craftsmen, antique stores, eclectic shops and interesting restaurants. The Stumptown Historical Society Museum offers a glimpse into the past with many original photographs from the Whitefish area, a preserved rail depot and exhibits detailing frontier life in the Flathead Valley. Those yearning for a more artistic experience will enjoy the Whitefish Theater Company’s contributions to the field of performance arts. Nearly 35 years old, the theater organization exists through the generosity of contributions from local business and ticket sales to an enthusiastic audience.

There is no private real estate for sale directly on Tally Lake. Several pockets of private land do exist in the surrounding area, many on roads approaching the lake. Those wishing to purchase real estate may well find the perfect location just a mile or so from the lake or with frontage on Logan Creek. Although the only lodgings visitors will find along the lakeshore will be campsites, the surrounding area is well supplied with resorts, guest ranches, motels, bed-and-breakfasts and private cabins and homes available for weekly rental. The Whitefish Chamber of Commerce lists a number of these facilities as a convenience. So, no matter what your interests are, Tally Lake deserves a visit. Pick your season: something is bound to catch your fancy and make you another enthused Tally Lake visitor. Come make Tally Lake your favorite vacation spot!

Things to do at Tally Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Downhill Skiing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum
  • Antiquing

Fish species found at Tally Lake

  • Brook Trout
  • Bull Trout
  • Kokanee Salmon
  • Lake Trout
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Salmon
  • Sturgeon
  • Trout
  • Whitefish

Tally Lake Photo Gallery

    Tally Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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    Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

    Surface Area: 1,211 acres

    Shoreline Length: 9 miles

    Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 3,349 feet

    Maximum Depth: 492 feet

    Drainage Area: 180 sq. miles

    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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