Two Medicine Lake, Montana, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - West - Montana - Glacier Country -

Also known as:  Middle Two Medicine Lake

Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park is one of three popular lakes close together and sharing the Two Medicine name. The middle lake, usually referred to as Two Medicine Lake, is the site of a popular campground and a ranger station. The Two Medicine area was one of the most visited parts of the park until Going To The Sun Road was constructed in 1932. A hint of that early popularity can be seen in the form of the Two Medicine Store at the main campground; the store is part of the old chalet system built in 1914 by the Great Northern Railway to provide visitor services. Originally, an entire complex of dining hall and guest cabins surrounded the chalet. President Franklin D Roosevelt gave a national radio address from the building in 1934. The building is designated a National Historic Landmark and still serves lake visitors today.

Although Two Medicine Lake charms Glacier National Park visitors, the lake was known and revered long before European adventurers came to the area. According to a book written about Glacier National Park in 1919, the name Two Medicine is actually a shortened form of Two Medicine Lodge, the name local Native American tribes called the lake and the river connecting it to Lower Two Medicine Lake. Because the Blackfeet had twice held their Medicine Lodge ceremony on the river, they called the river Two Medicine Lodge River in their native tongue. Lower Two Medicine Lake lies mostly outside of park boundaries on Blackfeet Reservation land. The area is still considered sacred by the native people.

Because more park visitors now visit the better-known Glacier attractions near Going To The Sun Road, Two Medicine area remains quiet and is the chosen destination of many serious hikers who explore the park each summer. Several popular trails begin at Two Medicine Lake, some of which can be reduced to very short walking distance by taking the tour boats plying the water daily. Canoes and row boats can also be rented at the campground, so visitors can paddle the lake themselves. A boat launch is available.

Glacier National Park has not published the surface area of the main lakes within the park, but estimates show Two Medicine Lake to be around 400 acres. The lake is surrounded by scenic peaks, many of which are a red hue that reflect on the water. The lake is often choppy from winds, but that doesn’t stop the few fly fishermen that have discovered what great fishing is to be found here for brook trout and rainbow trout. Fishing pressure is light and the trout are eager to bite. Other lakes in the immediate area are also decent trout waters, and many can be reached on foot. A proper fishing license must be carried, although no special fishing permit is required within Glacier National Park. The required Park Pass will be all that is needed.

Many hiking trails fan out from the Two Medicine hub. Both a North Shore Trailhead and a South Shore Trailhead provide the starting point for several trails. Two of the hikes can be shortened considerably by using the tour boat to reach the nearest point on the North Shore Trail, where Twin Falls is less than a mile from the lakeshore. The boat also cuts almost three miles off the total hike to Upper Two Medicine Lake. The shore trail to Running Eagle Falls is wheelchair accessible. Also called ‘Trick Falls’, Running Eagle Falls is particularly spectacular in spring and early summer when snow melt increases the amount of water to the point where the falls flow both through the mouth of a cave and over the lip of the gorge to form one waterfall. Other more strenuous hikes lead adventurers to stunning views of several well-known peaks, including Appistoki Peak, Sinopah Mountain, Painted Tepee Peak, Pumpelly Pillar and Rising Wolf Mountain. Those backcountry hikers in good athletic condition can hike the Continental Divide from Dawson Pass to Pitamakan Pass as a loop and return to Two Medicine Lake. Some of the trails intersect other trails and can lead the well-equipped hiker to other trails along the Divide.

The main Two Medicine Campground is an ‘improved’ campground during the regular season with potable water and flush toilets. There are no showers or electricity. During the several-week extended season, much of the campground is still open but water and toilets are not available. There are backcountry campsites along the trail near Upper Two Medicine Lake and Pumpelly’s Pillar. Other backcountry sites are located along the more difficult trails, but no services are available. The area is filled with wildlife; those taking the tour boat may see moose drinking from the lake or an occasional grizzly or black bear. In spring wildflowers decorate the meadows and waterfowl swim on the lake. This is a place no one should visit without binoculars and camera; just the play of sunlight across the many peaks begs for yet another photograph.

Lodging in the park consists of campgrounds and lodges operated by the park’s concessionaires. Outside of the park, nearby towns offer all sorts of lodgings from bed-and-breakfasts to guest cabins. A few motels provide modern accommodations along the main highways. Private and Forest Service campgrounds can also be found outside the park’s border. East Glacier Park Village offers both lodgings and restaurants for those who prefer civilization at least once a day. The larger town of Browning farther east along US 2 holds the full complement of restaurants including fast food, hotels, medical services and leisure activities. Private vacation rentals are numerous in the area around East Glacier Park Village. Everything nature-loving vacationers could want is available in the area just outside the park. Come visit beautiful Two Medicine Lake. You will be amazed at the scenery, the lovely lake and nature’s bounty.

*Surface area is an estimate.

Things to do at Two Medicine Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Two Medicine Lake

  • Brook Trout
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Two Medicine Lake Photo Gallery

Two Medicine Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 400 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 5,164 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.

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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".

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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.

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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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