Last weekend was not the rainiest most miserable camping trip I’ve ever been on. It was rainy, sure, but far from miserable. We went to Ashley Lake, about 25 miles west of Kalispell. Although surrounded by Flathead National Forest, there are quite a few private homes on the lake, which surprised me. After driving for 20 minutes on a washboardy gravel road, I really didn’t expect to see many houses. Fortunately, the “campground” sat on something of a secluded cove on the south side of the lake, and aside from the occasional water skier in the distance we could have had the lake to ourselves. “Campground” gets quotes, because it deserves all sorts of qualifications. A treacherous road led to three fire rings space well apart and some vaguely smooth areas where you could pitch a tent. Each of the sites had its own little beach, locked off from the others by bushes and trees. A vault toilet sat some ways away. It was, in short, perfect.
The lake is a bright, clear aquamarine, you can see the bottom until it gets too deep. In mid-August the weather would be the perfect temperature to cool you off during a sunny 82 degree day. Of course the weekend we went consisted mostly of drizzly 65 degree days, and even the periods of blue sky didn’t warm up much. So the water actually warmed us up whenever we got in it. I couldn’t find a lot of hiking trails around the Ashley Lake south campground, but that isn’t a major drawback. If it was nice enough to hike than you’d want to be in the water the whole time anyway. As it was, we spent a good portion of our time in our tent, trying to avoid touching the sides and listening to Harry Potter. But that’s ok. Sometimes you need a weekend where you just sit. And if you get to sit in close proximity to a mountain lake, then I’d say your life is pretty darn good.