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Lake Mary Ronan State Park sits on the eastern edge of its namesake lake and about 15 miles west of Flathead Lake – one of the largest natural freshwater lakes in the U.S. Campsites at Lake Mary Ronan Campground have electrical hookups and drinking water, but there are no sewer hookups available. There’s also no dump station, so you’ll need to drive into Lakeside or Kalispell to empty your holding tanks. There are pit toilets available, and if you need firewood or ice, it can be purchased from the campground host. The campground is rustic, though, and it’s best if you come prepared for self-sufficiency.
The Flathead Valley is one of the most unique regions in Montana, with a climate unlike anywhere else in the state. It’s more moderate and gets more rain during the spring and summer, making it possible to grow fruits and berries that would be impossible in the drier sections of the state. To get a taste of Flathead’s bountiful fruits, visit in June during the Flathead Cherry Festival, which draws tourists from all over the Pacific Northwest. Should you miss it, huckleberries are in season later in the year, and you’ll have no trouble finding a store or restaurant that wants to sell you a tasty treat filled with them.
The Flathead National Forest is just north of Lake Mary Ronan Campground and is one of the best places to go for a summer hike when you book an RV in Lake County. In the winter, Blacktail Mountain, the centerpiece of the national forest, is one of Montana’s best low-key ski areas (nearby Whitefish Mountain Resort draws in all the out-of-state skiers, so it’s kind of a locals-only hill). When the forest thaws out, though, this is a favorite climb for residents as the former ski trails provide for wide-open views of Flathead Lake.
Taking a boat trip around Flathead Lake should be on everyone’s itinerary when camping at Lake Mary Ronan Campground; if you need to rent a boat, there are outfitters in the town of Big Arm that can get you set up. Big Arm is also a great starting point as you can circle around some of the lake’s most scenic islands, like Wild Horse, which is open to the public.
The Flathead Valley is also home to some excellent cycling trails; if you want to put in some miles when you camp in an RV near Kalispell, the Great Northern Historical Trail is a must. The 22-mile-long rail trail follows the old Great Northern rail bed from Somers to Kila around the northern tip of Flathead Lake. There are even a bike repair shop and a few convenience stores alongside the trail, so you’ll never feel like you’re too far from civilization. However, if golf is more your game and you’re hoping to hit the links while Kalispell camping, the city has a couple of 18-hole courses and a driving range to enjoy.
The closest town to the campsites at Lake Mary Ronan Campground is Dayton, which has little more than a restaurant and post office, but it is home to one of the state’s few wineries. If you’re looking for urban amenities near the RV campground, you’ll most likely need to make a trip to Lakeside or Kalispell. The former has a few restaurants and bars, a brewery, and a small grocery store to stock up on food to cook in your RV rental. However, if you’re hoping for a movie theater, museums, gyms, or cultural attractions, Kalispell is your only option.
Kalispell’s downtown area is brimming with interesting little shops selling handmade items and gifts unique to the Flathead Valley region. If you’re searching for souvenirs to remind you of your motorhome camping adventure, this is the place to find them. There’s also the Kalispell Center Mall near the downtown area, which is anchored by a couple of department stores with a smattering of small shops in between. It’s not much, but it’s worth seeing if you’re looking for national brands.
If you’re interested in learning about the Flathead Valley’s history, make time for a visit to the Conrad Mansion Museum, which has guided tours of the opulent home explaining the Conrad family’s role in the development of Kalispell. If art museums are more to your taste, the Hockaday Museum of Art is another great day trip option. Housed inside a beautiful Carnegie library, the museum shows works from nationally renowned and emerging artists, and also keeps one of the most impressive collections of artwork related to Glacier National Park.
Those traveling with kids should check out Kalispell’s waterpark, which has a large pool, a couple of waterslides, and a lazy river. If you want the full waterpark experience, though, the town of Columbia Falls, about 20 minutes' drive farther north, has a much larger one.