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Swan Valley or Condon...take your pick. The U.S. Postal Service will deliver your mail whichever address you choose. For years it was only Condon, but then local residents petitioned the Post Office to have the name changed to Swan Valley. The Post Office diplomatically decided it would deliver to the same post office in Condon (or Swan Valley) even if people used Swan Valley (Condon) in the address.
Condon, like Seeley Lake, is growing rapidly. It has always attracted retirees and in recent years celebrities have been acquiring land here. Condon has been said to have the longest main street anywhere as services and businesses are scattered remotely along a 10-mile stretch of Highway 83, 20 miles north of Seeley Lake.
The area offers easy access to both The Bob Marshall and Mission Mountains Wilderness areas, and both mountain ranges rise most abruptly from the valley floor in this area.
Listed below are scenic viewpoints, campgrounds and trailheads in the Swan Valley area.
Location: Scenic turnout near mile marker 31 on Hwy. 83 marks the divide between the Clearwater Valley and the Swan Valley. Water from Summit Lake flows south to the Clearwater River. Snowcapped Mission Mountains and McDonald Peak visible from here. T19N, R16W, Section 27.
Location: Take the Rumble Creek Road at mile marker 39 on Hwy. 83 and travel west about 3 miles to the Cooney Lookout which is manned by Forest Service personnel during the fire season. The East Foothills Hiking Trail begins about a quarter mile east of the lookout. T20N, R16W, Section 4.
This scenic lake has average populations of kokanee salmon, rainbow trout and bull trout. Fishing is best here in the early spring, late fall and, through the ice, in the winter. Holland Lake is popular for water skiing, canoeing and swimming during the summer. T20N, R16W, Section 35.
Location: Turn east on Hwy. 83 at mile marker 35 and travel 2.5 miles on the Holland Lake Road. The campground is located near Holland Lake Lodge, a popular recreation area. Facilities: Forest Service Campground open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Developed water, 39 camping units, flush toilets. Boat launch and popular swimming areas are nearby. Reservations for group camping available - call the Swan Lake Ranger District, Bigfork, Montana, 1-407-837-5081.
Location: Take the Holland Lake Road at mile marker 34 on Hwy. 83 for 2.5 miles then take the graveled Forest Service Road about a half mile to the Packer Camp. Facilities: Forest Service maintained. Corrals for horses, loading ramps, camping areas and developed water. Holland Trail #35 Location: Begins on the south side of Holland Lake near the Owl Creek Packer Camp. One of two area trails which provide access to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Location: Access begins via the East Holland Connector Trail #415 on the north side of Holland Lake just past the driveway for Holland Lake Lodge. Follow the East Connector Trail for about 1-1/2 miles to Holland Creek Trail which provides access to the old Holland Lookout site. Trail is steep and demanding for most people, but panoramic views reward hikers.
Location: Begins on the north side of Holland Lake just past the driveway for Holland Lake Lodge. Moderately difficult trail around the upper end of Holland Lake to Shoestring Falls. Joins Holland Trail #35 on the south side of the lake.
Location: Access begins via the East Holland Connector Trail on the north side of Holland Lake OR via the Rumble Creek Road (mile marker 42 on Hwy. 83) near the Cooney Lookout. Good family hiking area.
Location: Turn west at mile marker 34 on Hwy. 83 and travel on a graveled road 4 miles to the Lindbergh Lake Campground. Facilities: No developed water. Boat launch and limited camping and picnic areas. There are many private homes around Lindbergh Lake and access is limited. T20N, R17W, Section 14.
Location: The 70-mile long Swan River flows north from Lindbergh Lake to Bigfork. Many forest roads provide access to the river. Fishing here is limited to catch-and-release only (with artificial lures) for rainbow and cutthroat trout. Floating is not recommended in most areas of the Swan River due to log jams and sweeps (trees fallen into the river, but still anchored to the bank).
Location: This Forest Service station for crews working in the Swan Valley is located at mile marker 42 on Hwy. 83 across from a rural aircraft landing strip. Facilities: Forest Service maps may be purchased here during regular work hours, Monday through Friday. T21N, R17W, Section 36. Phone 754-2295.
Location: At Goat Creek on Hwy. 83, mile marker 59. Facilities: Maps and information available here year 'round. Call 754-2301 for more information.
Location: This 1,568-acre refuge located near the southern tip of Swan Lake has been adopted by the Flathead Chapter of the Audubon Society and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Facilities: No developed facilities but footpaths here are popular among birdwatchers. For more information contact the refuge manager at 1-406-755-4375, Kalispell.
Location: Turn east on Hwy. 83 near mile marker 54-55. Take the Van Lake Road for about 3 miles. The last 1/2 mile to the lake is rough. Facilities: Van Lake is small, but scenic, and is located on land owned by Plum Creek Timber, Inc. The area has several undeveloped camping sites and a boat launching area suitable for small motor boats, but no toilets or picnic tables. Lake is crowded on weekends and holidays. T22N, R17W, Section 3.
Location: On Hwy. 83 at mile marker 57. Fantastic view of Swan Peak. Facilities: No camping allowed but picnic tables provided.
Location: Turn west between mile marker 58 and 59 on Hwy. 83 at the Fatty Creek Road. Travel about 1/4-mile to the campground which is nestled between the Swan River and Fatty Creek. Facilities: Undeveloped State Forest Campground popular among fishermen. 8 camping and picnic sites. T23N, R18W, Section 18.
Location: On Plum Creek Timber, Inc. land west of Hwy. 83 between mile marker 58 and 59. Take the Fatty Creek Road west about 2 miles, following the signs to Metcalf Lake. Facilities: Undeveloped fishing access site. It is now the only lake in the Swan Valley with special fishing regulations. Anglers may only keep trout over 22 inches in length and are limited to using artificial lures only.
Location: Five miles north of the State Forest Headquarters at Goat Creek. Turn west on Hwy. 83 - the campground is located on the banks of the Swan River. Facilities: Several camping and picnic areas, nature trail nearby, no developed water source. T24N, R17W, Section 30.
Location: Take the Soup Creek Road at mile marker 65 on Hwy. 83 about six miles north of the State Forest Headquarters at Goat Creek. Travel east for about 4 miles on the graveled Forest Service road. Facilities: No developed water, 8 camping and picnic sites. T24N, R17W, Section 27.
Swan Lake at the north end of the Swan Valley is a popular fishing and resort area. The lake is popular among fishermen for its northern pike fishery, kokanee salmon and rainbow trout.
Location: Forest Service facility located just north of the community of Swan Lake. Day Use Area located on the west side of Hwy. 83; overnight camping on the east side of Hwy. 83. Facilities: DAY USE AREA offers 25 picnic units, spacious swimming beaches, well-maintained footpaths, developed water system, boat launch, toilets and ample parking facilities. OVERNIGHT CAMPING AREA has more than 30 camping units, developed water source, flush toilets and ample parking areas.