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  • Writer's pictureCarmen Hobson


Lazy days on the bays are forthcoming, and that puts broad smiles on the faces of all of us waterdogs! I’m addicted to the water, and often am asked about islands on Flathead Lake. There are many, however only a few allow public access. I thought I’d compile a short list of the islands that are managed by Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP), where the public is allowed. All other islands besides the ones listed are private, so please respect that they are not to be accessed by the public in any way.

Wild Horse State Park - This is the largest island of Flathead Lake, and it is home to several wild horses, along with a giant herd of Big Horn Sheep. These animals are managed by FWP, and they have regulations on the island that prohibit dogs and other pets from any and all access to the island. This is for the protection of people, dogs and the wildlife, so please obey this very important rule. There are a few short hiking trails, but you can bush-whack all over the island and it makes for a wonderful day of wildlife watching (amazing osprey and eagle fishing moments, too!), playing in the quiet bays, hiking, taking in absolutely grand views, and picnicking. This is a day use island only, there are no campfires of any kind allowed, and there is a composting toilet installed.

Adventures on Wild Horse Island with my sister!

Cedar Island - Located off the west shore near Rollins, this is the second most visited island on Flathead Lake. It has 6 designated campsites, which are limited to 6 people per site who are confined to the tent pads. FWP is slated to add a composting toilet to this island in the future.

Bird Island - This small, 30 acre island off of Finley Point, is near a group of island which are a private birds sanctuary, and is lovely to visit. This island has two designated campsites with the same 6 person limit per site as Cedar Island. FWP is slated to add a composting toilet to this island, as well.

Douglas Islands - Off of Miller Point, this island is also on the smaller side, is day use only, and allows no campfires or dogs. Be aware that this islands south side extends quite a distance underwater from the island that is above the water line, and at a very shallow depth. It has lured many a boater to innocently cruise around that side of the island, and take out their prop on the shelf!

Goose Island - Near the shore by West Shore State Park lies this small, day-use-only island which makes a great little rest spot to get off your boat and stretch your legs. As other FWP managed islands, no pets or fires are allowed.

All of these islands’ camp spots are first-come, first-serve, and there are no longer any undesignated campsites. If the sites are filled, you’re not allowed to camp outside of those sites. Also, please note that Goose, Douglas and Bird islands prohibit any and all use access between March 1 - July 15th, due to waterfowl nesting season.

FWP has established new rules and regulations for these island, and will be heavily policing them from now on due to disrespectful visitors who have inundated the island with trash and human feces, as well as a large wildfire on Bird Island from an improperly extinguished campfire. Please be respectful of these areas, practice “Leave No Trace” visiting, and pack out everything you came with, including your human waste from island which do not have pit/composting toilets. With thousands of visitors descending to our area, these once pristine islands are suffering from lack of care from visitors and garbage strewn across the islands. If this continues, it’s likely that FWP will prohibit access to these amazing gems on Flathead Lake.

A day on the lake is like no other, and it’s likely you’ll make many lasting, fond memories with friends and family, so summarize that boat, load up the coolers and head out to that azure blue!

Carmen Hobson


Touchstone Real Estate


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