Parking: Finley Point State Park
WoW: Grizzly Hills
A few years ago, we stopped at Flathead Lake on our trip to Glacier Park. We had not brought the boat with us, and we massively regretted it. Ever since then, we’ve been talking about sailing on Flathead, so a couple weeks before closing on the sale of our house, we made our only reservation so far to ensure we’d get a space. Finley Point is the only State Park that has both RV parking and a marina.
The marina is very pretty, but it’s not laid out particularly well. The main thoroughfare is open to the center of the lake, so any wave action goes straight down the slips. Also, the docks are not floating and they use rails instead of cleats, so it’s very easy for a boat to catch its gunwale under the rail during a storm. We knew we had to be extra careful because an intense storm was forecast in a couple of days.
The sailing ended up being pretty great. We did some playing around close to the park and circumnavigated Wild Horse Island (saw no wild horses). The winds were pretty consistent, and we didn’t have to do a lot of motoring until we got hungry and wanted to head back fast.
On Saturday, since the forecast was calling for 3′ waves, we went ahead and pulled the boat out of the marina and left it rigged in the parking lot. The day was absolutely pleasant – no storms in sight and the deadline for the warning was almost up. We felt pretty stupid for overreacting. We were watching some folk paddleboard and kayak while playing a board game when it started to mist, so we took the game inside. A half-hour later, it was howling outside. We peeked out, and there was a power boater bucking right off shore. We went to check on the sailboat (she was fine), and we watched the power boater’s friend back the trailer in the water while the boat was jumping trying to get loaded. We found out that the storm had been so sudden, it caught everyone in the marina off guard. The power boat’s dock lines snapped, so the owner had to go out and rescue it in the storm. We didn’t feel so stupid after that. It a weird storm because although the lake was absolutely thrashing, the sky was fairly blue, and it never did do anything heavier than mist.
Sunday, we were back in the water and had another great day sailing.
When we arrived, things looked really good in the RV park. There were only two other RVs (quiet and obviously retired full-timers), and no other boats in the marina. We launched easily and got unpacked. Our only beef was that the RV spaces are NARROW – we could not even extend the awning. The lots include a very small grassy area behind the parking space on the lake shore with a picnic table and a fire pit.
The next day was completely different. Every single RV space ended up being filled (and it was nerve-wracking watching folk back up their RVs in the spaces next us to make sure they didn’t hit us). We thought the Koocanusa marina RV park was crowded, but it was wide open compared to how it ended up here. I expected better of the group from Hope Church (www.hopechurchmt.com), but they let their numerous children and dogs run absolutely wild, took over our meager space (and picnic table) with their toys and hammocks, left their garbage all over, and blasted their music. Dog crap was everywhere, and the kids were swimming in the marina (which is HIGHLY dangerous with a fixed dock and strong waves – a child can easily get trapped under the dock, and no one would ever see) despite a sign every 10′ warning folk not to swim.
A couple days later, the camp host kindly let us move a couple of spaces over, but in came a whole new batch of rude folk. These people let their dogs AND kids crap all over – seriously, it was disgusting.
It is very obvious when an RV has full-time folk and when it has weekenders. Full-timers train their pets and children to be respectful of other RVers. We all have very little space and not much sound control, and a little respect goes a long way. The weekenders clearly do not care whom they inconvenience, and the posted rules are only for other people.
We have learned our lesson and in the future, we will limit our exposure with densely populated campgrounds no matter how much we may want to be in the area. We are just too set in our ways to put up with too much chaos and garbage.