When you can fry bacon on your forehead in triple-digit heat, it’s time to throw your body in Whitefish Lake’s 65-degree July water.
Despite 16.3 miles of shoreline, most of the waterfront is private. However, the public can swim at three different beaches on the 3,315-acred lake—Whitefish Lake State Park, Les Mason Park, and City Beach.
Whitefish Lake State Park attracts swimmers to its less rambunctious cove where you can get wet and watch the trains go by. To find the park, drive one mile north of Whitefish on Highway 93. Turn right at the state park sign just past the golf course, and drive one mile to the signed entrance on the left beyond the railroad tracks. For Montana residents, the park is free, but for non-residents, day use is $5 per car.
Across the lake on the north shore, $5 gets a carload into the swimming and picnicking beach at Les Mason State Park. A quick walk drops to the 585 feet of smoothed-stone shoreline where roped off water with a floating dock separates swimmers from the rabid jet skiers. From the Big Mountain turnoff on Wisconsin Street, follow East Lakeshore Drive for one mile to the park entrance on the left side. Keep your eyes open for the small brown sign, or you’ll zip right past it.
From downtown, the quickest place to jump in the water under the watchful eye of lifeguards is City Beach. Weekly tilled-up sand covers part of the 810 feet of beach front, located along Lakeside Boulevard. While the swimming is free, you can supplement water play by renting an inner tube or rubber raft for $5 and grab ice cream from the snack shack.
Dive in. It’s a sure way to beat the heat.
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