Outdoors

Explore: Wild Horse Island State Park

Visit the largest island in the largest freshwater lake west of Minnesota

There’s something enticing about Wild Horse Island – like Hungry Horse, it’s a name you don’t forget; it’s a place you want to learn more about, a place you just have to see with your own eyes.

At 2,160 acres, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in the largest freshwater lake west of Minnesota and one of Montana’s 10 primitive state parks. It is home to a vast myriad of wildlife, including mule deer, bald eagles, bighorn sheep, and five wild horses. Because there aren’t many natural predators on the island and the wildlife is relatively accustomed to humans, you’ll be able to see the animals in rare form: the mule deer are enormous, and many of the bighorn sheep sport fully curled horns.

There are as many activities to do on the island as there are animals to see. Hike, fish, kayak around the island, swim in Flathead Lake, bird watch, take photos, picnic, and search for geocaches. Follow trails (both marked and unmarked) to a hidden caldera-like formation at the top of the island and gaze out at the breathtaking panorama of the surrounding valley. You might even be able to catch a glimpse of Glacier National Park.

How to get there: The island can only be reached by boat. To access Wild Horse Island by canoe or sea kayak, drive 29 miles south from Kalispell on Highway 93 to Dayton Yacht Harbor for a 90-minute paddle to the island. Warning: It’s a windy journey. By power or sailboat, you can launch from over 20 access sites, state parks, or marinas, most commonly from Big Arm State Park. If you plan to fish, a joint state/tribal fishing license is required. More information at http://stateparks.mt.gov/wild-horse-island.

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