Flathead Lake State Park - Wild Horse Island


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A glacier-scoured mountain rises from the depths of the 200 square mile Flathead lake to form Wild Horse Island. The 2,163-acre island is one of the largest islands in the inland us and is large enough to support its own diverse ecosystem. An assortment of flora, including the endangered Palouse prairie plant species, thrives on the mountainsides, wooded slopes, sheltered bays, open grasslands and rocky shores of the island. Abundant wildlife, including bighorn sheep, mule deer, bald eagles, ospreys, and the token herd of wild horses also reside here.

In times past, the Flathead and Pend d’Oreille Indians hid their horses on this island to protect them from the raiding parties of the Blackfeet. Today the island is on the Flathead Reservation portion of the lake. Fishing here requires a tribal fishing permit.

The channel that runs between the island and its neighbor, Melita Island, locally known as Mackinaw Island. Large lake trout are known to linger in the depths of the channel.

If you wish to visit the island, you will need at least an 18 ft. motorboat. Anything less is risky. The route to the island covers a considerable amount of open water, and sudden storms are not uncommon. You can rent boats at Big Arm Marina, (406) 849-5622. Scenic cruises are also available from Pointer Scenic Cruises in Bigfork, (406) 837-5617. There are no paid attendants here, and there is no fee. Camping, fires, and dogs are prohibited on the island.


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