Whether you explore north, south, east or west through Glacier National Park, you’ll travel through some of the most spectacular scenery and some of the most grand vistas in all of the northern Rocky Mountains. Here you’ll find glacier-fed lakes, cedar forests, luscious verdant valleys, and windswept alpine meadows, all beneath the shadows of vast mountain peaks!
So much to see, so much to do in Glacier. It can be a challenge deciding where to catch the best views, which trails to hike, what roads to drive. I have a suggestion! Head north, off the beaten path, and away from the crowds. Come along for the ride as we day trip into Glacier National Park’s North Fork, all the way to the edge of Bowman Lake.
Finding Adventure in Glacier’s North Fork
What is the North Fork, you ask? Why, it’s one of the least crowded areas of Glacier National Park. Yes, it is off the beaten path. Yes, the road gets rough and rugged. The reward for taking on this adventure? Stunning views of Bowman Lake, incredible hiking trails to Kintla lakes, and the chance to hear rare park wildlife, such as the haunting howl of a lone wolf.
Settle in for the nearly two hour drive from Lake McDonald Lodge to the edge of Bowman Lake. It’ll get bumpy along the way, but hey, that’s half the adventure! So is the drop-dead gorgeous eye candy that’s sure to have you pulling over to soak it all in.
The drive into Glacier’s North Fork winds past open prairie grasslands and evergreen forests, the distant mountain peaks serving as their backdrop. Take it slowly. Enjoy the adventure of the drive. Pull over for an easy peasy hike through a verdant meadow.
It’s a fun drive, with lots of family-friendly action along the way. Like Home Ranch Bottoms, perfect for a pitstop and for picking up snacks, drinks, and perhaps a picnic lunch. Oh, and if needed, take a shower! Yes, a shower. Noteworthy if you plan to camp in the North Fork.
Welcome to Polebridge Montana!
Welcome to teeny-tine Polebridge, Montana. It’s the last stop before the final drive to Bowman Lake. Polebridge is also a National Landmark, and a must-see. It won’t take long, though. Polebridge really is a one-road town!
Step into the Polebridge Mercantile. Wander over to the bakery counter for some delish baked treats. You’re in luck if there’s still a few oh-so-yummy huckleberry bearclaws left. Who knew that a place this remote would have such a fabulous bakery!
All stocked up and ready to get to Bowman Lake. Follow the sign pole outside the Mercantile for Glacier Park. You can’t miss it. Prepare yourself, now. The remaining six miles to Bowman Lake Campground are not for the feint of heart. But as the saying goes, getting there is half the journey, and those last miles are a doozy of a journey!
At The Edge of Spectacular Bowman Lake
Take it slow and easy now. Beyond Polebridge it’s a dusty, bumpy ride along a narrow, pot-hole filled dirt road, and at times, the road is only one and a half cars wide. But what awaits your perseverance is indescribable scenery at the end of the road.
Welcome to Bowman Lake, Glacier National Park’s third largest lake!
Enjoy the peace and solitude of this vastly uncrowded, oft-skipped, yet incredible lake.
You’ll be glad you did! Time permitting, spend the afternoon along the shores of Bowman Lake, hiking, fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Or just sit back, contemplating the views.
Hope you brought a bite to eat! Bowman Lake is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch.
Ah yes, that picnic table looks about right. This was as crowded as it got today!
Picnic lunch finished. Time for cleaning up and proper disposal of the garbage. This is wildlife country after all! One never knows who might come wandering across the nearby fields for a snack. Today, it’s just the local deer.
Traveler’s Tip: Bring bug spray, otherwise the local flying critters may be snacking on you!
Plan A Day Trip to Bowman Lake
Adventurers in search of Bowman Lake should head for the Bowman Lake Campground. It’s about 32 miles north of Glacier National Park’s West Entrance, 30 miles south of the Canadian border, and 41 miles from our starting point of Lake McDonald Lodge.
It’s one road in – and one road out! But it’s a road less traveled sure to complete a Glacier National Park vacation. Ready to plan your own day trip into Glacier’s North Fork and Bowman Lake? Here are several links to kick that drive into high gear.
- Glacier National Park
- Glacier National Park – North Fork
- Hiking The Trails
- 2015 Glacier Visitor Guide
Travel Warning: RVs and truck & trailer combinations are not recommended at Bowman Lake due to the long, narrow, and windy dirt road to the campground. Turning vehicles around (3-point turns) is difficult here.
Have You Been to Glacier’s Bowman Lake?
So many incredible destinations within Glacier National Park! Yet of those we were fortunate enough to experience, Bowman Lake is by far a family favorite. Our one regret? That we didn’t know enough about Bowman Lake. If we had, we would have planned for an overnight camping adventure along it’s shores. Oh how the sun must look when setting across the lake!
Have you been to Glacier National Park? Did you experience Bowman Lake? What are your thoughts? Do you think Bowman Lake is as spectacular as we did? What was your favorite Glacier National Park destination? Do share!
Want more insight into adventures of Glacier National Park? Check out these other posts:
- Get off the beaten path at Hiking The Upper Two Medicine Lake Trail.
- Get on the road at 7 Must-See Stops Along The Going To The Sun Road.
- Read about adventures in Lake McDonald at A Misty Morning Trek to Avalanche Lake.
- See all you can do at 7 Family Adventures in 5 Days Exploring Glacier National Park.
You’ll be glad you did!