With its stunning forests and majestic mountain ranges, Montana is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and pets. While much of the state is snowed in throughout the winter, when the snow melts, it creates clear, clean lakes perfect for picnicking and swimming. Whether you’re exploring the eastern prairie or heading to cozy Montana vacation rentals near Glacier National Park, this beautiful state offers plenty of recreational activities for you and your pet. When your dog is in need of a swim to cool off, venture to one of these dog-friendly beaches for a dip.

great northern mountain over hungry horse reservoir
Source: Flickr/dvs

1. Bozeman Pond Canine Beach, Bozeman

If you’re looking for a dogs-only beach in Montana, the Canine Beach at Bozeman Pond is the perfect option any time of year. The area is small, but it’s within the off-leash area, so you can set your dog free to explore the water. Keep in mind that the park area is fenced on three sides, but the pond is not; if your pet is prone to chasing birds or swimming into deep water, you may want to consider a leash. The water isn’t appealing for swimming with your dog, but it’s clean enough to wade on a hot day. For a longer visit, consider bringing a fishing rod to try your luck with casting. An on-site playground and another separate fenced in dog park also provide room for the whole family to play. The pond is an easy drive from downtown vacation rentals; bring your bikes or walking shoes to explore the trail that rings the water and into the surrounding neighborhoods.

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2. White Earth Recreation Area, Townsend

Enjoy a swim with a view of the mountains at White Earth Recreation Area in central Montana. This beautiful day-use area sits on the shores of Canyon Ferry Lake and is open year-round. The park has three undesignated beaches, which means you can allow your dog to swim as long as you use a leash. Keep in mind that some areas may have posted pet restrictions that change seasonally; if you find a sign, simply move down the shoreline. The lake is clear and clean, so feel free to swim with your dog. The onsite boat dock and ramp make it easy to launch motorboats, kayaks, or stand-up paddle boards. If you’re planning to be in the area for a while, the widest selection of vacation rentals is located in Helena, about 25 miles to the west. Another great place to get in the water on the lake is Canyon Ferry State Park.

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3. Big Arm/Flathead Lake State Park, Big Arm

Explore one of the most beautiful lakes in Montana at Big Arm / Flathead Lake State Park. This enormous lake, which sits in northwestern Montana, makes a great side trip on a visit to Glacier National Park. Dogs are welcome at the park and in the water, as long as you keep them on 10-foot or shorter leashes at all times. Animals aren’t allowed on the swimming beach; simply walk down the shore to find a non-designated area to swim with your pet. The water is shallow near the shore, so it’s easy to let your dog enjoy the water while you stand on the sand. The park also has several boat launches, making it a popular spot for kayaking and water skiing. A variety of vacation rentals sit along the shore north and south of the park, so you may even find a private beach to let your dog off the leash.

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4. Hungry Horse Reservoir, Hungry Horse

Get out into Montana’s spectacular mountains at Hungry Horse Reservoir, a huge body of water with stunning views of the forest. A wide variety of small beaches line the shores of the lake; park at the Abbot Bay Boating Site and walk along the water to find a sandy spot to hang out. Keep your dog on a leash, and feel free to cool off in the fresh water with your pet. In general, it’s best to avoid beaches with large gatherings of people. If you’re visiting during rifle hunting season, be aware that the mountains surrounding the lake are popular with local hunters; if your pet spooks easily, stick close to day-use areas rather than the hiking trails around the reservoir. Bring your fishing rod and cast for whitefish and bull trout, or enjoy a picnic in the shade of the trees along the water. Search for rental properties in Hungry Horse to the north.

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5. Rexford Bench Campground, Rexford

Escape the national park crowds at Rexford Bench Campground, a campground and day-use area on stunning Lake Koocanusa. This beautiful northern Montana spot offers easy access to the clear, cold waters of the reservoir. Thanks to its location, the best time to visit is during the summer. Pets are not allowed in designated swimming areas, so it’s important to walk away from the marked beach; keep your dog on a leash the entire time. For a fun afternoon, hop on the Pacific Northwest Trail, which runs from the end of Camping Loop A, and enjoy quiet access to the water from the trail with your pet. Choose vacation rentals on the water, or enjoy a larger selection in nearby Eureka.

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