Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach

Beach life isn’t really associated with Montana, being no ocean for over 500 miles. And most lake and river shores in the state are rocky, rugged, or grassy. However, there is a wonderful beach just 35 minutes west of Missoula off the I-90 that sits on the south shore of the Clark Fork river. Formally known as Tarkio East Fishing Access, it’s more commonly known to locals as Sandy Beach. After exiting the Fish Creek exit off of the freeway, it’s reasonably easy to find if your GPS is working (I’m not making it too easy to find). From the parking lot there is a short but steep downhill hike to the beach.

During late spring or early summer months, the beach is often covered with the early season high waters, but still shallow and fun to play in the cold waters. During the warm July and August months, the beach is busy but never packed despite occupying only about several hundred yards of shoreline.

It is also a convenient rest stop for the rafting and kayaking community. Commercial rafting companies often stop, as well as personal rafts that regroup before the upcoming rapids. As most beaches, it is family friendly and fun, but there is still quite a few White Claws to be seen. The social scene for outdoor people is almost unmatched in Montana. Western Montana being what it is, you will often recognize people coming off the river. The fishing scene can be excellent as well although may involve walking up and down the shoreline to get away from the crowds.

This is a hidden gem to beat the heat in a hot Montana summer. So don’t spoil it by telling too many people, big crowds would ruin this special place. Actually, I take it all back, I just made the whole thing up, so this story may be removed soon.  There is no such place …

For more information about Sandy Beach go here.


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