Swan Valley / Seeley Valley
(a.k.a. Seeley-Swan Valley)
Swan River in the Seeley-Swan Valley of Montana.
Swan Valley / Seeley Valley
(a.k.a. Seeley-Swan Valley)
Popular Scenic Route To Glacier Park
The Swan Valley / Seeley Valley Area, a.k.a. the Seeley-Swan Valley (and known locally as the "Seeley-Swan") are two back-to-back gorgeous valleys located east of Flathead Lake. Not only are these valleys a popular scenic route taken by vacationers headed for Glacier National Park and the Flathead Lake Area via State Highway 83 after leaving Montana Highway 200 at Clearwater Montana, but is also quite legendary as being a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. The drive along Montana Highway 83 through the Seeley Valley and Swan Valley is regarded as one the top scenic drives in Montana.
Seeley Lake (above image). The drive through Seeley Valley and Swan Valley along Montana Highway 83 is among the most scenic drives in Montana.
The Swan Valley Area includes the Swan River, Swan Lake as well as the town of Condon and Swan Lake. At the far southern end of the Swan Valley lies a very subtle divide which separates the Swan Valley from the Seeley Valley that is found even farther to the south. Both of these valleys run north and south, and both share the same mountain ranges, with the Mission Range and its numerous glaciers towering to the west and the Swan Range dominating the skyline to the east. At this subtle divide that separates the two valleys, where the Clearwater River heads south into the Seeley Valley and the Swan River heads north through the Swan Valley and eventually Flathead Lake at Bigfork Montana.
Highway 83 takes you through the Seeley Valley and Swan Valley as it heads north toward Glacier National Park. The scenery the entire way is remarkable.
Both valleys are heavily forested at times, with periodic open meadows offering stunning views of the Mission Range to the west and Swan Range to the east. Montana Highway 83 begins at Clearwater Junction, Montana, and runs northward nearly 100 miles before taking a turn to the west and eventually joining Montana Highway 35. Several miles before the road turns to the west, you will encounter the Montana Highway 209 Junction, which you can take to get to the charming resort town of Bigfork Montana. Bigfork is 89 miles north of Clearwater Montana, and the Swan River runs directly through downtown Bigfork before it enters Bigfork Bay on Flathead Lake.
Swan Lake is 10 miles long, where Montana Highway 83 follows its eastern shoreline.
The Swan Range towers to the east of both the Seeley and Swan Valleys.
The Clearwater River runs south through the Seeley Valley, feeding Lake Alva, Lake Inez, Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake before it empties into the Blackfoot River to the south, near Montana Highway 200 at Clearwater Junction Montana. The town of Seeley Lake rests along Montana Highway 83 at the southern end of Seeley Lake in the heart of the Seeley Valley. Placid Lake State Park is found southwest of the town of Seeley Lake, which is not on the Clearwater River but is a very nice place to camp and boat. Farther down stream in the Seeley Valley lies Salmon Lake State Park, which is a very popular state park that rests along the shore of the scenic Salmon Lake. There is a nice campground and boat landing and dock at this state park, and is directly beside Montana Highway 83.
Salmon Lake and Salmon Lake State Park is the first attraction along Montana Highway 83 heading north.
The Town of Seeley Lake, Montana
About a thousand people live in the town of Seeley Lake, Montana, and it definitely has its charm. Seeley Lake provides all the necessities such as food and gas, as well as camping and several terrific cabin and vacation rentals found throughout the area. The town is located on the south end of Seeley Lake, with excellent boat docks provided. The town of Seeley Lake is 112 miles from the west entrance to Glacier National Park at West Glacier, and is 91 miles from Kalispell. Swan River, Montana is 57 miles to the north along Montana Highway 83.
Seeley Lake is a gorgeous lake in the Seeley Valley along Montana Highway 83, with outstanding fishing and watersports opportunities.
View of the Swan Range in the Seeley Valley from Montana Highway 83.
Subtle Divide Between Seeley Valley and Swan Valley
Between Seeley Valley and Swan Valley is a subtle divide that separates these two magnificent valleys. In fact the divide is so subtle, you will barely know you're on it as you drive northward on Montana Highway 83. But you will notice the scenery begins to change, where the Swan Range and Mission Range really begin to show themselves beyond vast open meadows. Summit Lake marks the highest point between these two scenic valleys.
Summit Lake with the Mission Range towering behind it.
The road between the Seeley Valley and Swan Valley is heavily forested and scenic.
Mission Range shows more of itself at the divide between the two valleys.
The Swan River, which feeds several lakes including the popular Swan Lake, originates high in the Mission Range, and is partially fed by Gray Wolf Glacier before it heads steeply down into the valley as it reaches Lindbergh Lake at the base of the mighty Mission Range. It flows east for a short distance before it takes a turn near Condon Montana and heads straight north for 75 miles, where it then reaches the 10 mile long Swan Lake. During this journey, many tributaries feed the Swan River, significantly increasing the size of the river by the time it turns west just beyond Swan Lake and soon after that empties into Flathead Lake at Bigfork Montana.
The Swan Range dominates the skyline to the east as you drive north through the Swan Valley.
There are meandering sections through heavily forested areas along Montana 83.
Swan Lake is a beautiful 10 mile long lake that is known for great fishing and watersports.
Swan Lake, Montana
With a population of 154 people, Swan Lake is the 25,545th largest city in the United States. Located on Montana Highway 83 in the heart of the Swan Valley, nestled next to the legendary Swan Lake, the town of Swan Lake sits in the middle of paradise. It provides food and gas, as well as a campground along the lake, a nice boat ramp and swimming area. Swan Lake, Montana is about 57 miles from the west entrance to Glacier Park at West Glacier, and is about 26 miles from Kalispell and 23 miles from Bigfork. Missoula is 110 miles to the south, and Seeley Lake is 57 miles in the same direction.
Beyond the town of Swan Lake, Highway 83 follows the east shore of Swan Lake to the north for all of its 10 miles, providing great views.
The Swan Valley is a mix between heavily forested areas and gorgeous open meadows.
The Seeley-Swan Valley: Outdoor Recreation Paradise
The "Seeley-Swan", which is the Swan Valley and Seeley Valley wrapped together by the same two mountain ranges (Mission Range and Swan Range) and where Montana Highway 83 follows these great rivers through these remarkable valleys, is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise.
There are countless hiking opportunities into both mountain ranges, fantastic fishing is abound in both the Swan River and Clearwater River, not to mention the outstanding lake fishing on Swan Lake, Seeley Lake, Salmon Lake and more.
And not only are these lakes and rivers home to various species of Montana trout, but Swan Lake and Seeley Lake are also great bodies of water to try your skill at fishing for Northern Pike. Of course there is plenty of canoeing, kayaking and boating opportunities found throughout both the Seeley Valley and Swan Valley with all the bodies of water found in the Seeley-Swan. Horseback riding is also available through the several outfitters found throughout both Seeley Valley and Swan Valley.
During the winter, there are over 350 miles of snowmobile trails awaiting winter sports fans, as well as world-class cross country skiing opportunities. Ice fishing on the lakes for pike and trout is also a popular activity during the winter in the Seeley-Swan.
Swan River with the Swan Range looming above it to the east.