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Seeley Lake Montana

Located in: Glacier Country

Seeley Lake is flanked by the peaks of the Mission and Swan mountain ranges, and is situated along one of the most scenic drives in Montana. Beginning at the charming village of Bigfork on the north and ending at Clearwater Junction on the south, this 91-mile stretch of road is commonly known as the 'Seeley Swan Highway' or the 'Chain of Lakes.' Running between two majestic mountain ranges and following the Swan and Clearwater rivers past pristine lakes and heavily wooded slopes, Montana Highway 83 provides the most scenic route between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks. Those who love water and the great outdoors will discover excellent camping, boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities at Placid Lake State Park and the Salmon Lake State Park.

Folks visiting Seeley Lake have many outdoor recreational opportunities from which to choose. During winter, a snowmobiler will discover more than 350 miles of groomed snowmobile trails in this area. Seeley Lake hosts a vast network of trails that wind in and around the many local mountain ranges. Guided snowmobile tours are available. Seeley Lake also boasts a world-class Nordic ski trail system. Folks can enjoy the serenity and beauty of this winter wonderland on a horse-drawn sleigh ride or on a guided sled dog ride.

During spring, summer and autumn, folks can enjoy birding, wildlife viewing, fishing, camping, boating, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding and trap shooting. Folks can mountain bike along hundreds of miles of trails and roads. You can also canoe the Clearwater River Canoe Trail. This easy 3.5 mile canoe route along the willow-lined river provides excellent opportunities to see many types of birds, including Bald Eagle. Then take a one-mile walk through old-growth forest to pick up your vehicle at the put-in-point, if you haven't rented a canoe. Experience the mountain vistas with a scenic car ride or with a guided llama or horse pack trip. During hunting season, there are multiple outfitters for guided pack trips. Summer offers a variety of water sports to be enjoyed.

Prior to settlement by European Americans, the Seeley Lake area was populated by Native American people, primarily Salish and occasionally Blackfeet.

The beginning of European settlement in this area was by Jasper B. and Elmer Seely in 1881. (The modern day spelling of Seeley Lake was due to a misspelling of Mr. Seely's name). they had a contract to furnish ties for the Northern Pacific Railroad.

Early homesteaders made their living from timber and fur. Surveying began in the area in 1883, six years before Montana became a state. Settlers purchased inexpensive land deemed unfit for agriculture, often selling it later to timber companies. The first logging near Seeley Lake took place in 1892. In 1896 J.B. Seely was the first ranger at the Lewis and Clark Forest Reserve now the Seeley Lake District, part of Lolo National Forest). In 1896, the Forest Service offered the first timber sale at Seeley Lake. It was purchased by the Big Blackfoot Logging Company.

World War II increased demand for lumber and another round of sawmill operations began. The demand for lumber continued after the war and so did the timber industry in Seeley Lake. The logging switched from horse teams and river drives to sawyer, trucking and logging roads.

The Forest Service began to put the logging roads to broader use by encouraging recreational activity in the area. In 1915 the Forest Service started leasing lots around Seeley Lake that were acquired by families from Missoula and other cities around Montana. The MacLean family was one of these. Reverend MacLean raised two sons, one of who, Norman, later wrote about family and fishing the Big Blackfoot River. By 1926 there were 35 summer cottages on Seeley Lake.

The semi-remote location of the Seeley Lake area combined with the abundance of fish, game and large tracts of undeveloped wild country encouraged the development of Seeley Lake as a resort community. As the timber and tourism industries grew, more people were attracted to the Seeley Lake area. A school, a bridge, telephone services, a small store, a post office, and a dance hall came with development.

Reminders of Seeley Lake's rich past are still evident in area homesteads, schoolhouses, camps, dude ranches, recreational facilities and logging operations. The historic and cultural resources of the Seeley Lake area contribute greatly to what makes this place special.

Seeley Lake is located in northwestern area of Montana, south of Glacier National Park on MT Highway 83.

Seeley Lake Accommodations

Bed & Breakfast (2)
Cabin (5)
Condominium (1)
Guest Ranch (2)
Hotel/Motel (3)
National Forest Campground (6)
Resort (4)
Vacation Home (16)

Seeley Lake Restaurants

Family Restaurant (1)
Fast Food Restaurant (1)
Fine Dining (1)

All Seeley Lake Businesses

Banking Service (1)
Chamber Of Commerce (1)
Equipment Rental (1)
Fishing Access Site (1)
Lake (2)
Lewis & Clark Tour Guide (1)
Museum (1)
National Forest Trail (58)
Outfitter/Guide (1)
River Guide (1)
Scenic Highway (1)
Specialty Store (1)
State Park (2)
State Park Trail (1)

Cities near Seeley Lake Montana

Big Arm
Gold Creek
Seeley Lake
St. Ignatius
Swan Lake

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