Plan a boating getaway to Lake Powell, Lake Tahoe, Lake Cumberland, Lake Travis — you know, the places everyone with a hitch knows about — and you'll find more travel information than you can use. But pencil together a real getaway in the truest sense, and you'll want suggestions from friends who have tested the untested waters. Consider us your friends, and the following places a little something between you and us.
Hungry Horse Reservoir
Hungry Horse, Montana
It could be that vacationers reach this northwest section of Montana with pinpoint focus (Glacier National Park) and ignore the periphery along the route. Or maybe most of the roughly 2 million annual visitors to the park enter from the east side rather than the more-rugged west entrance. A distance of 10 miles, all of it twisty, between the lake and the park might discourage side trips. Then again, our visit in late September was notably past the tourist season and followed a dusting of snow only five days earlier. Whatever the case, a dearth of pretrip information on Hungry Horse Reservoir and an absence of humanity en route to, and right up to, the water's edge, had me second-guessing a four-day commitment to camping and boating there.
"Why," I asked photographer Doug DuKane at the launch ramp, "did we see more people at the huckleberry stand [two] than here [zero]?"
When the boat drifted off the trailer, I turned it 180 degrees and sat still. Mountains climbed in three directions. Pine trees appeared as green carpet rolling down a slope and into the water as far as we could see. Three rides the length of the lake and 96 hours later, we were just as awestruck, having seen exactly one structure (a former ranger station) the entire time.
We did tour Glacier National Park. The massiveness was beyond comprehension, and still is. But at some point, just as we found at Hungry Horse, you stop asking the whys and hows and simply drink in the wows.
Overshadowed By: Flathead Lake, Glacier National Park
If You Must Know: There are more species of mammals in this region than anywhere in the continental U.S.
Most Popular Boats: Aluminum fishing boats for trailerability and access into rocky coves and creeks.