Quake Lake Montana Fishing, Camping, Boating

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Quake Lake

Take a side trip on your West Yellowstone vacation to visit Quake Lake in southwestern Montana, created from a huge earthquake that struck the area on August 17th, 1959.

  • A massive earthquake formed Quake Lake in 1959
  • Learn all about the seismic activity of the region by dropping by the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center
  • Experience the lake by kayaking around it
  • Catch some brown or rainbow trout in Quake Lake


Quake Lake, also known as Earthquake Lake, was the result of a devastating earthquake. As the lake filled the valley, it buried trees, highways, houses, and campgrounds beneath its waters.


Quake Lake Montana is mostly within Gallatin National Forest on US Highway 287 about 27 miles northwest of West Yellowstone. The highway follows the lake and provides views of the effects of the massive earthquake and landslide.


Earthquake Lake Montana is accessible all year. The Visitor Center is open from late May through early September. The hours for Earthquake Lake Visitor Center are 10 am to 6 pm seven days a week.


Visit at the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center
To learn all about the seismic activity of the region, drop by the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center, operated by the National Forest Service. Construction for this center completed in 1967, and it stands as a shrine to the fateful events of that day in 1959.

Paddle through the cemetery of trees that make this lake's waters unique. You can use the boat ramp that’s half way down the lake from the highway to launch a motorboat or canoe. Kayaks are also popular on Quake Lake MT. High winds can pick up in the afternoon so kayaking and canoeing is best in the morning.

Quake Lake is six miles long and over 180 feet deep. Due to the numerous trees submerged, fish find great cover and thus the lake offers decent fly-fishing. You can catch brown trout, stocked yearly, and good-sized rainbow trout. The best time to fish this lake is from late spring to early summer. Later in the summer and into the fall is also great fishing.

Whitewater rafting
The waters above Quake Lake provide some exciting Class III rapids, and below the lake the most strenuous Class IV-V whitewater rafting. Usually the area below the lake is avoided, except by the most expert paddlers. This is because there are many sharp rocks coming from the rockslide that formed the lake.

There are a couple campgrounds located along the shores of Quake Lake. This picturesque setting is ideal for pitching a tent and hanging out for a few days.

Additional Info

The earthquake that formed Quake Lake measured 7.3 on the Richter scale and created a landslide estimated at 80 million tons of dirt and rock. The landslide traveled down the side of the mountain at about 100 miles per hour, and resulted in the fatality of 28 campers in that section.

Other Quake Lake Resources

Montana Whitefish Lake

Popular lake and vacation spot just outside Glacier Park.

Gros Ventre River Slide

Massive landslide that blocked the Gros Ventre River in Wyoming.

Jenny Lake

Highly photographed lake at the base of the Teton Mountains.