“Colour is joy. One does not think joy. One is carried by it.” – Ernst Haas
Standing at the shore of Lake McDonald absorbing the virginal beauty of the nature in Glacier National Park in Montana; one feels that truer words were never spoken.
Pebble Shore Lake along with being one of the most colourful and scenically mesmerising parts of the Glacier National Park is also the largest lake in the park. On the map it appears like a perfectly aligned hot-dog amongst all the green of the forests and measure more than 10 miles in length and about a mile in breadth. It sits in the very lap of nature surrounded by magnificent mountains and dense coniferous forests, which on calm mornings reflect perfectly on the transparent waters to make it look like a picture straight out of a Monet painting
The Pebble Shore Lake was formed following enormous glacial activity and erosion and sits as a bowl on the foot of the mountains; which also provide the source of its pristine waters in form of the McDonald Creek. The McDonald creek runs into drains after the lake and then meets the Middle Fork Flathead River. The creek is entirely snow fed resulting in clear and pure waters of the lake. As the lake runs transparent for good lengths one can see pebbles of different shapes and sizes, scattered or lying in some kind of natural array, on the shore or even in the waters; but one thing which is common in these sights is – colour. The colourful beauty of the shore and the lake itself which is only enhanced by the colourful flat pebbles scattered across the shores, some like perfectly aligned dominos; is the reason behind it being named as the Pebble Shore Lake.
Lake McDonald is situated 960 m above sea-level and covers an impressive area of about 6800 acres. The Lake is located in Glacier National Park often hurled as the ‘Crown of the Continent Ecosystem’.
The combination of strong standing, ice covered mountains, pristine waters, colourful shores, dense forests and a wide variety of fish, plants and other wildlife contribute in making Lake McDonald the most popular destination in the Glacier National Park.
Several services and lodging facilities are located at the Lake mainly around specific locations like entrances and towns. Probably the most famous of which, is the Lake McDonald lodge; built in 1913 it is a 3-story, lake-facing structure located at the Southeast shore of Lake McDonald. It was originally named Lewis Glacier Hotel after its builder John Lewis and has retained many of its original furnishings. It was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
The Lake is easily accessible via the scenically exceptional Going-to-the-Sun Road which runs parallel to the lake on the south side. It is located approximately 5 miles east along the road. At several spots the lake is just a hike away from the road. This is also facilitated by numerous parking spots all along the road and also one boat ramp in the village of Apgar. Along with renting power-boats, this is also the location of National Park Service Visitor Centre with dining and lodging services.
The lake offers variety of recreational activities from boating to camping.
In recent times it has been especially popular amongst hikers who prefer to start at the southern end and then follow hiking trails going into the forests and along the shores. Camping is a family activity which has always been popular with people visiting Lake McDonald. Set up tents and a fire and one is ready to have one of the most memorable family trips of their lifetime.
One can also rent a boat, if they have not already brought one, and go far and wide into the vast stretches of pristine, virgin waters of the lake. Fishing enthusiasts can take pleasure in a plentiful catch which might consists of trout and a large number of cutthroats, some of which grow really large. The ease of fishing makes it an ideal spot to learn fishing, simultaneously enjoying the glory of nature.
One of the most appealing things which people have often described about the lake is the feeling of being one with nature and completely at peace at the same time, which is often credited to the lower number of boating use in the lake.
Inevitable meaning one can enjoy the true essence of nature without being disturbed by the typical hullabaloo of a tourist spot of such magnificence.
There seldom are any difficulties in fishing or hiking along the lake as the waters are generally calm at all time of the day with little to no breeze and the terrain along the shore is filled with colourful gravel bars which people more often than not take home as souvenirs of their time spent in nature’s adobe.
Animals like Grizzly bears, Moose, Deer and Black bears are found around the lake but are commonly sighted in the forests along the northern shores.
There are tourist-spots which people visit and enjoy and then are places which at the first sight find a place in your heart, create an unchangeable memory in your mind and which call you back because of the connection they form with you when you are there The Pebble Shore Lake, certainly would fall into the latter category.