Holland Lake Kayak Paddle, Swan River Valley, Montana

     One of the top items on the list of to-do’s while visiting the Swan River Valley was to paddle Holland Lake. I had heard so many great things from those who had been and from the pictures I had seen, it looked absolutely stunning. After breakfast we loaded up provisions and left camp at Lindbergh Lake and made the short drive northeast to Holland Lake. After driving through the full campground for the second time this trip I felt we were much better away from the hoards at the much quieter Lindbergh Lake.

    Just beyond the campground we found Holland Lake Lodge. We only packed two kayaks for the camping trip so we were forced to rent one more for the trip up the lake. The lady at the rental desk was helpful, but their gear on the other hand was in disrepair. We were looking for a tandem kayak for Robin and Kylie to share but couldn’t find one in working order, all had broken seats. We did manage to find one seaworthy sit on top solo boat that we rented instead, Kylie would ride with me in my Old Town Dirigo 140. The lady was kind enough to allow us to launch our private boats from their beach but she made us haul them the long way around the lodge which was kind of a pain in the ass but otherwise doable.  Eventually we were all on the water under a beautiful cloudless blue sky, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

    Holland lake is absolutely beautiful, and the water gin clear with the most amazing color of blue, it almost looked tropical. The views up and down the lake were stunning, to the west were the snow capped peaks of the Mission Mountains and to the east imposing summits of the Swan Range towered just beyond your fingertips. We worked our way east along the north shore of the lake, which paralleled the hiker trail to Holland Falls. The further we got the from the resort and campground the more remote the trip felt. Soon we approached an island where we went left exploring the small channel between it and the mainland. Beyond the island we passed a small cove before leaving the comfort of the shoreline behind entering Holland’s open waters to reach the far end of the lake. As we made the final push we could make out Holland Falls high above the lake in the Holland Creek drainage carrying water down from Upper Holland Lake. As we approached a beach we could soon see and hear Holland Creek and figured it would be the perfect place to take a break.

    We landed the kayaks and got out, the kids instantly made there way into the water and eventually so did Robin and myself, it was hot and the cool waters were the perfect ticket for cooling off. Holland Creek flows ice cold into the lake creating a significant change in the water temp near the inlet, it was almost unbearably cold. After swimming a while Jameson and I took off on foot up the ice cold creek that was almost impossible to wade through, we scrambled up the drainage a ways before the pools got to deep and downed trees to dangerous to cross before turning back. Holland Falls beckoned from above, but would have to wait until next time.  We wandered back to the beach where we eventually packed up and turned the kayaks around.

    Reluctantly it was time to go, the paddle back was just as pretty, we made time to explore the cove we passed on the way up. To enter the cove we had to negotiate a natural rock barrier without dragging bottom and having to exit the kayak to carry across. The water in the cove was smooth as glass and the lily pad flowers in full bloom which display the most beautiful white petals with yellow pistil. After paddling among the blooms we finally made our way back to the lodge. We returned their kayak and loaded ours before buying a couple of beers and making our way to their lawn overlooking Holland Lake and the surrounding mountains. We found a couple of beach chairs where we relaxed while the kids danced in the water on the beach below, it was perfect.  We only paddled a lazy 3 miles total, which gave us plenty of time to relax on the beach back in camp before dinner, what a great day, Holland Lake is a must for anyone visiting the Swan River Valley. For more pictures click the link. Holland Lake Kayaking Pictures


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