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How Does Montana’s Wildfire Smoke Affect Boating On Flathead Lake? 



During the summer months, it’s not unusual to see smokey skies in Montana. So how will that affect your time boating on Flathead Lake? Here’s what you need to know about Montana’s wildfire smoke:

1. Montana’s wildfire smoke can affect air quality on Flathead Lake

The amount of smoke around Flathead Lake fluctuates throughout the summer based on the wind, number of wildfires in the area, and even by large wildfires as far away as Canada or California. It’s unusual for these smokey skies to bring air quality to such unhealthy levels that you can’t recreate safely on the water. However, if you have asthma or other health concerns, it’s always good to check the air quality before you head outside. You can view the air quality for Dayton, Montana and other areas of Flathead Lake on the AirNow website

2. Montana’s wildfire smoke can temper hot days

Smoke isn’t all bad— it can actually help temper those sweltering hot days out on the lake! In fact, this National Geographic article reports that wildfire smoke can cool the air by as much as 9°F. Interestingly, this isn’t just a welcome reprieve from the sweltering heat for boaters— this smoke cover can also slow the spread of burning wildfires. 

3. High wildfire danger can bring restrictions for recreators on Flathead Lake

High fire danger often comes with restrictions on activities that can cause fires. For example, if you are planning on camping on Flathead Lake after a day out boating, you’ll want to make sure you are aware of any campfire restrictions in place. Additional restrictions may include limitations on where you can smoke, use chainsaws, shoot weapons, and more. Northwest Montana went under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions in late July this year.  You can read more about the stages of fire restrictions in Montana here

4. Montana’s wildfire smoke rarely deters boaters

As long as the air quality isn’t unsafe from Montana’s wildfire smoke, boating on Flathead Lake is as popular an activity as it is on clear sky days! Go Sail Flathead Lake continues to offer charters, rentals, and ASA courses throughout the summer even when the skies are hazy. In fact, these hazy skies can often bring beautiful sunsets with them, making it a great time for a sunset cruise. You can book your 6 hour boating trip and sunset adventure on a Capri 22 ft sailboat here!