Bowman Lake In Glacier National Park (Directions, Sunrise, and Travel Tips)

Post Summary: Bowman Lake In Glacier National Park (Directions and Trip Suggestions)

Looking for the perfect summer morning in Glacier National Park? We found ours during sunrise at Bowman Lake!

Bowman Lake is one of Glacier’s many picturesque lakes, with mountain peaks that seem to match on either side of its reflection. From perfect sunrises to summertime swims, we can’t stop raving about this magical place.

In this post, we’re sharing about the epic sunrise we experienced at Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park, and how you can get here to see it for yourself!

Berty walking at Bowman Lake during sunrise

Sunrise at Bowman Lake – Glacier National Park

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Getting To Bowman Lake

To reach Bowman Lake, you’ll first have to know that it is out of the way of everything else in the park. From nearby towns like West Glacier or Apgar, it will be a 1.5-hour drive.

Here are the coordinates to the Day-Use Area: 48.8293099, -114.2030665

Located in West Glacier, it’s far from the main attractions like Lake McDonald or Going-To-The-Sun Road, but it’s still absolutely worth the drive out there!

Some of the roads are paved on the way to Bowman Lake, but you’ll encounter more dirt roads than paved. Make sure to have good tires and high clearance on your vehicle. Go slow!

You will pass through the little town of Polebridge, Montana on your way to Bowman Lake. There is little to no cell service on the way to Bowman Lake, so make sure you’ve got a good map with you or you have downloaded an offline map for the journey.

(Find out how to download an offline map in our road trip planner post!)

Polebridge Mercantile Store

Polebridge Mercantile (Old Outpost For Glacier Explorers!)

First, you will pass through the little town of Polebridge, Montana. There’s a tiny historic mercantile shop for some last-minute essentials and yummy pastries. This was also the outpost for many of the first Glacier National Park explorers.

Constructed in the year 1914, The Polebridge Mercantile is considered a historic building as it has been around for more than 100 years!

It is now known for its bakery and treats on the way to more North Fork adventures. Here are the Polebridge Mercantile (Ther Merc) opening hours:

  • Summer Hours (Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend): 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, every day
  • Fall Hours (Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend to Halloween): 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, every day
  • Closed For Repairs & Holidays (November 1 to March 28, 2019)
  • Spring Hours (March 29, 2019, to Thursday before Memorial Day): 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, daily

Bowman Lake Road

After the Polebridge Mercantile and to continue on your way, pass it on the left to reach the Glacier National Park Entrance. You’ll need to show your national park pass, or pay the $30 entrance fee.

Once you are past the park entrance, look for the left turn and follow signs to Bowman Lake Road. After quite some time on a winding, narrow road (about 20+ minutes of driving), you’ll enter the Bowman Lake Campground and Day Use Area.

Bowman Lake Road is 6 miles long and pretty darn narrow. You’ll need to pull over for passing cars as it isn’t a two-lane road. It’s more like a lane and a half! Depending on the weather conditions, it can be a bumpy, dusty, pot-hole ridden ride!

Go slow (the max speed is 15 miles an hour) and you should get the Bowman Lake just fine.

Once you arrive at the lake, park in the day-use area. You can’t park on the shores of the lake, but you can quickly drive your car down there to drop off any gear like your picnic items, a kayak, or a canoe.

If you have a camping reservation at the Bowman Lake Campground, you can also park your car at your campsite.

Directions to Bowman Lake From Lake McDonald Area:

  • From the Apgar Visitor’s Center, take Camas Road north for 17 miles.
  • Turn right onto North Fork Road and drive for about 14 miles until you reach the town of Polebridge, MT.
  • Drive past town, show your park pass at the Polebridge Ranger Station, and continue to follow signs to Bowman Lake Road for about 5 more miles.

Sunrise on Bowman Lake Shores

Because the lake is so long, the mountains in the distance look nearly symmetrical on either side. This provides incredible views, surrounded by mountains on all sides.

It’s an excellent place to enjoy breakfast too, and wake up with a morning swim. We came later in the summer, which meant the water was a great temperature – not too cold, surprisingly!

Note: The sun doesn’t rise at the same time every day at Bowman Lake. Make sure to plan ahead and know what time you should expect the sunrise for your trip dates!

Read More: How To Wake Up For Sunrise (For People Who Hate Mornings)

Foggy Morning at Bowman Lake Montana

Berty Mandagie and Emily Mandagie sitting by Bowman Lake, Glacier

Joseph Roberts at Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park

Jumping In Bowman Lake

Coming in late summer, the water wasn’t actually that cold! It took a second to get used to the temperature, but after that, the water actually felt nicer that the morning breeze.

There are other great Glacier National Park swimming spots – like this epic spot on St Mary Lake, and a polar bear plunge at Iceberg Lake – but we think Bowman takes the gold medal for water temperature as well as gorgeous views.

There are pit toilets nearby, so you can change into dry clothes on the way back to the main part of Glacier National Park.

Ready for more adventures in Montana? Check Out Our 1-Week Glacier National Park Itinerary! 

Emily and Joseph jumping into Bowman Lake, Glacier

Essential Items For a Morning Swim at Bowman Lake

It helps to be prepared in Glacier, especially if you are hoping to jump in some lakes! Here are some things we packed for Bowman Lake in Glacier that came in handy.


You have to take a swim in Bowman Lake. The calm water and stunning view are just calling your name!

We often like to get our swimwear from, because they’ve got a wide selection of sporty but stylish choices for our outdoor adventures.

Shop swimwear at Backcountry here.

Emily in swimsuit at Bowman Lake

Quick Dry Towel

After a lake jump comes the getting out part (not our favorite).

Make sure you’ve got a towel ready for your exit! We love quick dry towels like these ones from Nomadix, because they are all-purpose ones for camping, swimming, boating – you name it!

Berty standing with quick dry towel (Nomadix Co)

Berty drying off with quick dry towel

Slip-On Shoes

When getting out of the water, you want an easy shoe that can slip on quickly.

We love our Ember Mocs from Teva with the collapsible heel for this very reason! No need to struggle with getting a shoe on while balancing on the other foot.

These shoes just require a quick towel off and bam, the shoe is on your foot, ready for the next adventure (even if that adventure just means getting another cup of coffee!).

Emily in swimsuit with quick dry towel

Teva Ember Moc slip on shoes in Mint Green

Instant Coffee + Jet Boil

We think one of the best parts of the morning is coffee! (Or tea if you fancy that as well!)

Since there is not a coffee shop around Bowman Lake, we like to make our morning cup of joe with our Jet Boil (rapid water heater) and instant coffee packs.

It’s crazy simple, and we can start sipping and watching the sun break on the top of the Glacier peaks with cold hands and warm hearts.

Emily drinking coffee on shores of Bowman Lake

Portable Mat

Maximize comfort while watching the sunrise at Bowman Lake! It was love at first sit with these Therm-a-Rest Z Mats. They kept our bums dry as the dew of the morning burned off, and they kept us clean and off the ground.

These mats accordion-fold and are super lightweight, so we’ll be packing these on all our sunrise trips from now on.


Emily eating breakfast on shores of Bowman Lake Glacier National Park

Emily watching reflection of Bowman Lake Montana

Not Ready To Leave Glacier?

We don’t blame you! Read our posts below for more suggestions on your trip to Glacier National Park and Montana. We hope you have a wonderful trip!

The Best Hikes In Glacier National Park (Easy To Challenging Trails!)

All The Best Stops On Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Trail In Glacier Montana During Sunset

The Best One-Week Glacier National Park Itinerary 

What To Expect On Iceberg Lake Trail In Glacier National Park