Monday, May 27, 2024

Fall in Flathead Lake visitation could be due to low lake levels

Hagadone News Network | May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

While Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported a slight increase in park visits overall for 2023, Flathead Lake actually saw a drop in visitors last year compared to pre-pandemic numbers. 

Flathead Lake State Park’s six units experienced a minus 6.4% change in visitation 2019 to 2023. In comparison, the parks overall showed a 17.4% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

“Another decline in visitation in 2023 to Flathead Lake could be due to record low water levels in the lake impacting recreation,” the Montana State Parks Annual Visitation Report stated. 

The lake still served 332,063 visitors in 2023, up from 2022, and was the second most-visited park in the state, behind only Giant Springs. Somers Beach State Park, which opened in 2022, saw 34,268 visitors last year. 

“Significantly, of the 10 parks in the state that saw visitation levels exceed 100,000, three are in Region 1 — Flathead Lake (all units), Thompson Chain of Lakes, and Lone Pine. The important public access these parks provide is underscored by their continued visitation, especially as the Flathead Valley grows in population,” the FWP report stated.