Flathead Lake is a very large freshwater lake located in the northwestern corner of Montana. The lake is actually a remnant of a massive inland sea — Lake Missoula — which covered much of the region during the last interglacial, some 13,000 years ago. The lake is relatively deep, with a maximum depth of 370 feet, and is known for its crystal clear waters.
In recent weeks, Flathead Lake has entered the public awareness as the result of a viral image showing the lake’s ‘crystal’ clear waters. The viral image shows a woman floating on an inflatable raft, above — seemingly — absolutely crystal clear waters. The text that accompanies the image is rather misleading though — stating that the water is so clear that it gives the illusion of being much more shallow than it really is. The text references the lake’s maximum depth of 370 feet, implying that that is the depth of the water in the image… In truth though, the image was very clearly taken near the lake’s shore, and the depth of the water in the image — by no means — even approaches 370 feet…
Regardless of the text accompanying the image though, the waters of Flathead Lake are indeed as clear as they appear in the image. The lake is one of the cleanest in all of the populated world — with regards to its size and type. It’s certainly worth a trip for those who have the time and money.
Some further information on the lake:
It’s worth noting that the lake is also known for being the home of the Flathead Lake Monster — a cryptid that has been alternately described as resembling either: a giant snake, the Loch Ness Monster, a large sturgeon, a very large eel, or a whale. While you may or may not believe in such an animal, it certainly gives you something to think about when you’re swimming out into the deeper portions of the lake.
The lake was also once home to a large population of Kokanee salmon (land-locked sockeye salmon), but, like many of the other fishes native to the lake, the Kokanee in the lake experienced a huge decline in their numbers as a result of introduced species. It’s too bad, as sockeye are delicious. Another interesting note — the lake was until relatively recently known as Salish Lake, which amusingly means nearly the exact same thing as Flathead Lake — as they are both in reference to the Salish (Flathead) Indians who live in the area.