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Montana's Brush Lake State Park

Mineral-rich water makes this 252-acre lake near Dagmar, Mont., pleasant for swimming all summer. Just don't expect any fish.

Brush Lake State Park, northeastern Montana, image
Photo credit
Photo: Matt Long
Photo caption
Brush Lake has been developed into a 450-acre state park.

Fed by a giant, hidden spring, Brush Lake doesn’t adhere to the blueprint for bodies of water in northeastern Montana. The 252-acre, 60-foot-deep lake five miles east of Dagmar radiates a shade of turquoise rarely seen on the Western plains.

“It almost looks Caribbean,” says Doug Smith, a county planner who spent 20 years working for public access to the water. The payoff is a state park with a new 12-site campground overlooking the sandy beach on the north shore.

Most ponds and lakes in these parts turn green and pungent over the summer, but the highly mineralized water here stays clear and fresh year-round. All those minerals make Brush Lake inhospitable to fish, but it’s wide open for swimmers and boaters.

In July, the area warms up enough for shiver-free dipping. Even at the peak of swimming season, Smith says, the lake has plenty of water for everyone seeking a not-quite-tropical retreat. (406) 228-3700,

This article was first published in July 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.