Shepard Memorial Fountain - Atlas Obscura

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Shepard Memorial Fountain

Columbia Falls, Montana

Crystal clear, drinkable mountain spring water by the side of the road. 


In a large turnoff across from the beautiful Flathead River near Glacier National Park, a pipe sticking out of a mountainside provides cool, clear water for locals and tourists alike.

A nearby stone marker names it the Shepard Memorial Fountain, “Dedicated to the memory of Lion Don Shepard of Kalispell”; a second nearby historical sign notes that for decades, “[this] natural spring provided water to locals and, during the early days of automobiles, helped cool more than a few overheated radiators.” 

The pipe is there to make the local springwater more accessible, and water tumbles from it into a small pool full of colorful local argillite stones. And while a small, bullet-riddled sign warns “drink at your own risk,” you’ll often find the parking area full of locals carrying multi-gallon jugs to fill at the spring (perhaps the sign was shot up for questioning their water source). This author filled a few themself, and drank it continuously for a week with no ill effects.

Know Before You Go

"Highway 2 E" Columbia Falls may be difficult to find. It's about a half-mile east of the intersection of Highway 2 and Berne Rd, and very easy to spot as you're driving towards Glacier Park. The Google Maps plus code for the spring is 9VPX+73 Columbia Falls, Montana; map coordinates are roughly 48° 23.143 N, 114° 6.142 W.

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August 23, 2023

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