Visit Montana’s Chain Lakes

The summer is heating up in Montana, and Visit Helena is heading to Montana’s Chain Lakes to cool off. Helena’s known for its Montana history and trails, but many overlook the three major lakes east of town; Holter, Hauser, and Canyon Ferry. These three dammed lakes along the Missouri River provide a multitude of recreational water sports. Take a dip, savor a float, or cast a line (maybe all three) to beat the summer heat!

Fun Fact: Did you know that at you can buy an annual Chain Lakes Pass for $40? This pass provides access to day-use areas on Canyon Ferry, Hauser, and Holter Lake. The pass is good from Memorial Day to Labor Day at all day-use fee sites.

Three kids giving a thumbs up on a boat.
Life is good on the water. Boating on Hauser Lake.

Family-Friendly Ideas

  • Head to Clark’s Bay Day-use area (don’t forget your permit), A great sandy beach for kids to play and a roped-off swimming area, this site offers great access to water, sand, and picnic areas for families. A first-come-first-serve area, so get there early in the day. Located on the banks of Hauser Lake it is a short 20-minute drive from Helena.
  • If swimming isn’t your thing, there is plenty of space on Canyon Ferry to set your lure and cast a line with your family. Canyon Ferry has several boat launches for those with boats (rentals are available at Kim’s Marina), or shorelines for fishing. Remember to prepare by reviewing the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Fishing Regulations. Here are our recommendations for good fishing spots:
    • Cave Point (near Kim’s Marina)
    • Hellgate Day Use Area
    • Canyon Ferry Dam
    • Hauser Causeway Day Use Area
The joys of fly-fishing on the Missouri River.

Fun with Friends

Call up your friends and head to the lake for a refreshing day floating on the water. From boat rentals to guided trips, check out the options to book an outing with friends on the water.

  • Rent a pontoon boat from Kim’s Marina on Canyon Ferry Lake. Grab some supplies from the market and launch the pontoon boat on the north end of Canyon Ferry Lake and cruise your way down to White Earth Campground for great swimming.
  • Take it easy by renting paddle boards or kayaks from Lakeside on Hauser or Mean Moose Boards (they deliver to the lakes for an extra fee). Discover access sites along Canyon Ferry, Hauser, or Holter for boat launches by using the Fish, Wildlife, and Parks tool.
  • Learn to wake surf with Surf 406 on Hauser Lake. This guided trip will bring you along the shores and teach you how to wake surf. A great idea for that future groom or bride!

Unwind & Dine

Unwind after spending a day on Helena’s chain lakes with delicious food and beautiful views. Relax with some music and beverages at Lakeside Bar & Grill on Hauser Lake. For that refined taste, enjoy the Highlander Bar & Grill. For those sailing on Canyon Ferry, book a slip and discover Schooner’s Bar & Grill new menu on the west side of lake. It’s likely you’ll catch live music at all of the venues on the weekends.

Enjoy the unspoiled nature of being near or on the water this summer! For more tips and safety updates, follow our social media or sign-up for our newsletter!