Very few visitors to Glacier Park find their way to Bowman Lake. To get to Bowman Lake from Smoky Bear Ranch, you must first drive the 25 miles of mostly dusty gravel road to reach the Polebridge entrance of Glacier Park. Because of the Moose Fire of 2001, you get great views of the backcountry in Glacier National Park while traveling this stretch of road. Once you enter the Park, you get to travel another 6 miles of single track dirt road to reach the foot of Bowman Lake where you’ll find a day use area, a campground, a boat launch, and a Park Ranger station.
But the sheer beauty of Bowman Lake is so worth the drive. The lake lies in a deep valley between Numa Ridge and Cerulean Ridge of the Rocky Mountains in Glacier Park. It is a long narrow lake – only about ½ mile wide but about 7 miles long. The waters of Bowman Lake are crystal clear and beautiful aquamarine in color. It’s so clear you can see the bottom of the lake through 30 feet of water.
If you take the easy rolling-hill hike along the northwest shore of Bowman Lake, you get many views of the Cerulean Ridge across the lake. Rainbow Peak stands above all the other peaks but you also get views of Square Peak and Mount Carter. You can find many great spots to access the lake to fish, enjoy the scenery, or stop for lunch. There are many wildflowers along this trail, each blooming in their own time. Or you can backpack the 7.1 miles into the campsite at the head of the lake for a peaceful night’s stay. But don’t forget your bear spray as bears are known to inhabit this area.
For water sports, Bowman Lake is a quiet lake. Maximum motorized vessel engine size is 10 hp – no jet skis allowed. This makes it a great lake for canoeing, kayaking, small boats, and fishing. Being located in Polebridge, the small quaint town you’ll pass through on your way, North Fork Recreational Rentals has many types of watercraft available for rent. But don’t forget to stop at the Polebridge Mercantile for some of their fresh baked sweet or savory pastries.