Category Archives: Winter Fun

15 Holiday Events in Western Montana: A Big Sky Country Christmas

We always talk about how much we love winter, and it’s the truth. It’s also true that we love the festive holiday frolic the season brings. In Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we really know how to deck the halls and celebrate the season of giving with all things merry and bright.

So without further ado, here’s a look at Western Montana’s must-see happenings this holiday season.

Deck the halls! Whitefish, Montana showing off its western holiday spirit. PHOTO: Brian Schott.

Santa at Missoula’s Southgate Mall + Holiday Performances
Capture the magic of the season at Southgate Mall, the region’s largest shopping center, with a Santa visit and photos, as well as a gingerbread house contest display and holiday performances. For a complete rundown of holiday happenings at the mall, visit shopsouthgate.com. New this year: Holiday Hustle for Him on Wednesday, December 20 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Christmas at Kalispell’s Conrad Mansion Museum
November 24 – December 31
The home of one of Kalispell’s founders, Charles Conrad, gets completely decked out in seasonal splendor, and the mansion offers tours Fridays and Saturdays during the holiday season at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m

Old-Fashioned Forest Service Christmas at the National Museum of Forest Service History, Missoula
November 25, 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Join Santa Claus and his pack mule team, plus Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, for Christmas stories and songs around the campfire, a candy cane hunt, holiday shopping at the Bungalow Ranger Station, plus Bill Moore’s book, “The Lochsa Story,” his documentary, “Bud’s Place,” and a book signing with author Vicky MacLean.

Carriage Rides in Downtown Missoula
Saturdays and Sundays November 25 – December 17, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Take a break from the holiday hustle for a festive horse-drawn carriage ride in downtown Missoula. The Resort at Paws Up brings two of their beloved horses to town for free carriage rides. Make your way to Missoula’s East Pine Street and hop in.

Enjoy a festive carriage ride through downtown Missoula. PHOTO: Taylar Robbins

Polson Parade of Lights
December 1, 6 p.m.
Get festive in the Flathead Valley and celebrate the beginning of the Christmas season with Santa, a bonfire, food vendors and a parade. Downtown Polson shops stay open late so you can start checking names off your gift list.

Lantern Tours at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula
December 1 – 3, 5:30 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
The Historical Museum at Fort Missoula offers guided lantern tours providing a look into past winters (complete with plenty of Christmas moments) and ends with cocoa and cookies. Book early! Call 406.728.3476 (extension 1) to purchase tickets.

Whitefish Christmas Stroll
December 8, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The quintessential mountain resort town of Whitefish decks its halls and kicks off the holiday season with a downtown Christmas Stroll featuring concerts, a tree-lighting ceremony, Santa, and wagon rides from Bar W Guest Ranch.

A Christmas carol before your eyes—chestnuts roasting on an open fire in Whitefish, Montana  PHOTO: Peter Siudara

Christmas Light Trolley Tours in Kalispell
December 8 – 31
Hop aboard a cozy trolley and set out to view the holiday lights in Kalispell with Montana Trolley Co. Click here for specific times and additional info.

Christmas in Bigfork
Located on the bay of Flathead Lake, the quaint (and beyond adorable) community of Bigfork goes all out for Christmas. Two days to note: Saturday, December 9 and Saturday, December 16. On those days, Santa comes to Bigfork, along with carolers and free live music dowtown, and the Bigfork Playhouse Children’s Theatre presents “White Christmas.”

Not many places celebrate Christmas quite like Bigfork, Montana. PHOTO: Bigfork Chamber of Commerce

Dolce Canto’s Light, Beauty, Peace at the Historic St. Ignatius Mission
December 10, 7 p.m.
One of the most beautiful churches in the state, the St. Ignatius Mission hosts Missoula’s a cappella (though sometimes accompanied) choir, Dolce Canto, for a holiday concert encouraging listeners to meditate on the notion of hope this holiday season.

Handel’s Messiah with Glacier Symphony + Chorale
December 15 – 17, 7:30 p.m.
A popular holiday tradition, the Glacier Symphony and Chorale performs Handel’s Messiah in Bigfork, Whitefish and Kalispell.

The Nutcracker in Missoula
December 15 – 17
A beloved holiday tradition, Montana’s Garden City Ballet performs “The Nutcracker.” Check specific times here for this treasured Missoula community event.

The grace and tradition of Missoula’s Nutcracker performance will be the highlight of your holiday season. PHOTO: Neil Chaput de Saintonge

Community Christmas Party
December 16, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Hamilton’s historic Daly Mansion hosts a Community Christmas Party complete with a visit from Santa and activities for the whole family.

Yuletide Affair 14 at Alpine Theatre Project
December 21-23, 7 p.m.
This sellout show stages once again at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center with a mix of holiday music, Broadway-caliber performances and hilarious satire. You can snag tickets here.

Whitefish’s Yuletide Affair is the perfect combination of comedy and winter cheer. PHOTO: Brenda Ahearn

Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade at Whitefish Mountain Resort
December 24
A Christmas Eve tradition, Santa visits the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, leads a torchlight parade on snow-covered Big Mountain, and gives out gifts at Ed & Mully’s after the parade (so hopefully you’ve been good this year).

You can also check out a full listing of holiday events at glaciermt.com/events.php.

May your days be merry and bright! (If you’re in Montana, all of your Christmases will probably be white, too. We just can’t help ourselves.)

 

 

 

Scenic Drives + Small-Town Discovery: Meet Thompson Falls + Tour 200

Thompson Falls is stunning in every season. PHOTO: Kate Baxter

First things first: Let’s talk 200. Discovery is inevitable on this road less traveled. State Highway 200 offers access to a slice of Montana that may not be on your radar, but should be. This treasure trove of outdoor recreation in the northwest part of the state is also chock-full of small-town surprises for those who like to wander off the beaten path.

The section of Highway 200 from Dixon to Heron is so scenic it’s been designated “Montana Tour 200.” It humbly winds its way through the Cabinet and Coeur d’Alene mountain ranges, with diverse side trips, scenic drives and backroad adventures offered all along the route. Recreation and solitude abound here, and so does authentic western hospitality. Folks are friendly and the lodging is cozy.

Where to stop…

Milepost 50 is where it’s at. Touted as a town “where the weather is always better than the forecast,” Thompson Falls boasts the warmest climate in the state. But that’s not all that makes it a year-round outdoor recreation hotspot. Nestled between the Lolo and Kootenai national forests, public lands are plenty, and “getting away from it all” is easy as pie. (We’ll talk more about pie in a sec.)

Hunting for solitude along a trail near Thompson Falls. PHOTO: Thompson Falls Main Street

Finding solitude here is pretty simple. Thousands of miles of trails offer adventure in every direction. Fall and winter are especially good for hunting and fishing—Outdoor Life magazine listed Thompson Falls #16 of the 35 best hunting and fishing towns in the country. It’s also a haven for hikers that’s exceptionally beautiful in the golden hues of autumn, and winter offers a snow-globe setting that’s simply magical by snowshoe. Pro tip: Quinn’s Hot Springs is right down the road in Paradise, and a post-adventure soak in Paradise sounds pretty heavenly, if you ask us.

Steam rises from the pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort in Paradise, Montana.

Speaking of winter, one of our favorite winter activities is snowmobiling, and the Thompson Falls area offers a motorized mecca for powder hounds. There are plenty of winter recreation opportunities including snowshoeing and sledding, but make sure to bring your own gear with you when you come.

Snowshoeing with the best kind of companion. PHOTO: Thompson Falls Main Street

In short, Thompson Falls is pretty awesome and totally unassuming. It’s also so friendly it’ll knock your socks right off and then offer you a nice spot to put your feet up by a warm fireplace. Actually, you’ll find that’s pretty common in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Come Tour 200 and see for yourself.

THOMPSON TIPS:

Christmas on Main Street
Get festive in the Falls the first full weekend in December. Shop Main Street’s BUY LOCAL! event with fun activities, including the Main Street Scavenger Hunt, topped off with an evening parade for the whole family. The weekend also includes a musical at the local theater, a gingerbread competition at the Old Jail Museum and a Christmas Craft Show.

Island Park
There’s a little island on the Clark Fork River, and that little island has a park on it where you can view the Thompson Falls dam, a fish ladder, the Clark Fork River and valley, powerhouses, two bridges (including the newly renovated Historic High Bridge) and an old substation. Take a stroll down one of many trails and enjoy a picnic lunch with an incredible view.

Built in 1915, the Thompson Falls Dam can be found on the Clark Fork River.

Minnie’s Montana Café
This mom-and-pop must-stop is a local favorite for homestyle cooking and comfort food, and, of course, that pie we mentioned earlier. The pie so good here you’ll be wondering if your grandmother is hiding in Minnie’s kitchen.

You must try Minnies Montana Cafe on Main Street.

Little Bear Ice Cream
Ice Cream in the winter? Yes please. Even after pie? Absolutely. When it’s some of the best ice cream in the state, you’ll be in the mood for Little Bear any time of year.

Save room for dessert at Little Bear.

See you on 200.

Warren Miller Can’t Get Enough Epic Montana Powder

It’s no secret that winter in Western Montana is pretty extraordinary. With over 300 inches of snow every year and thousands of acres of awe-inspiring terrain, including six downhill ski areas, it’s most certainly a winter travel destination. But, it’s not just that. It’s a sought-after winter playground for adrenaline seekers and backcountry explorers in search of powder paradise. When you experience a Glacier Country winter, you find the heavenly helpings of snow we’re talking about, and if there’s anyone who knows where to go for the “epic pow,” it’s Warren Miller. For the second year in a row, Warren Miller Entertainment has journeyed right here to Western Montana to take the powder plunge.

A filmmaker for over 60 years, Warren Miller is a legend in the ski and snow industry. He founded Warren Miller Entertainment in 1949—one of the largest, most established and successful action sports film companies today. Warren’s 68th feature film, Line of Descent, celebrates the generational aspect of skiers and riders conquering the ascent and reveling in the descent on some of the world’s deepest lines. The film features some of Glacier Country’s most epic backcountry, merging snowsports with backcountry skiers and a snowmobiler sharing—and crushing—the same terrain. Montana native and professional snowmobile athlete Keith Curtis teams up once again with professional skiers Tyler Ceccanti, Collin Collins and Julian Carr for epic snow play right here in the Seeley Lake area, Bigfork and Polebridge.

Here’s a look…

Warren Miller athletes catch some serious air in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Photos: WME

Warren Miller’s film tour officially kicks off winter each year, touring the U.S. from October to December. Check out the full schedule here. Attend one of the film’s domestic premieres, and you can enter to win a ski and sled road trip for two in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Glacier Country is one of the main tour sponsors for Warren Miller’s 2017 film. We’re honored, and always proud to represent Big Sky Country. This recognition is a testament to Western Montana’s position as a world-class snowsport destination. Watch the film, then come shred winter with us and see for yourself.

6 Museums to Visit in Western Montana

When you think of Montana, you probably think of sweeping mountain landscapes and epic outdoor adventure—and you aren’t wrong. But one thing you might miss if you don’t look closely enough is the cache of cultural heritage created by generations of Montanans celebrating the rich roots of our region. This legacy has been carefully preserved by several Glacier Country museums that round out Western Montana’s communities. Here’s a list of some of our favorite hot spots for history in our little slice of heaven.

Hockaday Museum
PHOTO: Donnie Sexton

Hockaday Museum of Art, Kalispell

Housed in the charming, turn-of-the century Carnegie Library Building, the Hockaday Museum of Art is a tribute to the diverse cultural work inspired by Montana and Glacier National Park. The Hockaday collection features Montana and Blackfeet Nation artists, and includes paintings, writings, photographs and pottery that are historically significant to the region.

Year-round
Tuesday – Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Missoula

Located in historic Fort Missoula (established by the U.S. government in 1877), the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula uses several galleries to tell the story of Missoula’s complex and captivating history. The museum includes historic photographs, correspondence and artifacts culled from donations of over 40,000 historical objects.

Labor Day Weekend – Memorial Day Weekend
Tuesday – Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day Weekend
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Ninepipes has a beautiful pond overlooking the Mission Mountains.

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana, Charlo

For those interested in the history of the Rocky Mountain West, Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana will fascinate with its collection of art, photos and artifacts that depict American Indian and frontier life on and around the Flathead Indian Reservation. From antique weaponry to covered wagons to traditional dress and beadwork, Ninepipes has something for everyone.

April 1 – October 31
Mondays – Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
November – February
Open by appointment

Glacier County Historical Museum and Archive, Cut Bank

Devoted to exhibiting local history, the Glacier County Historical Museum and Archive includes a 1917 schoolhouse, an oil worker’s house and a replica of a homestead house and farm. On weekends, interact with costumed characters circa 1915, who help demonstrate what life might have been like for Montana homesteaders.

Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day Weekend
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Labor Day Weekend – Memorial Day Weekend
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Museum of the Plains Indian, Browning

The Museum of the Plains Indian exhibits historic artistic pieces and traditional dress from the tribes of the Northern Plains. The museum also promotes and features the art of contemporary American Indian artists and craftspeople. Exhibits particularly celebrate the diversity of cultural expression across the many different tribes of the region.

June 1September 30
Sunday – Monday: 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
October 1May 30
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Polson is breathtaking in the fall.

Miracle of America Museum, Polson

The Miracle of America Museum has been nicknamed the “Smithsonian of the West” because of its diversity of artifacts. Among its many objects are vintage vehicles, aircraft, antique winter tools and old toys. The museum also offers special exhibits and activities geared toward kids.

June – August
Sunday – Monday: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
September – May
Monday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Whether you’re interested in the history of Glacier National Park, the expedition of Lewis and Clark, American Indian culture or Western Montana’s role in mining and railroad life, Glacier Country’s museums have you covered with art, artifacts and literature on display, plus interpretive tours and trails. Go right ahead and take advantage of our tradition of preserving our region’s culture and history. You’ll learn something new, and you’ll have fun doing it. Plus, our museums are all housed in charming small towns that are also definitely worth exploring.

Trip Tip: Take a piece of Western Montana with you…don’t miss our museum gift shops!

Best Day Hikes in Western Montana: Part II

Last week in Part One of this series, we explored some of our favorite day hikes in the southerly region of Glacier Country (if you missed it, you should definitely go take a peak). This week, we’re finishing the list by heading up the map toward Highway 200, the Jewel Basin, Tobacco Valley and the Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park.

If you’ve already read Part One, skip ahead. For our friends new to the blog, we have a couple pointers to help keep you safe and happy:

Rules of the Trail:

  1. It’s always a good idea to wear layers and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. It gets a little cold around here (in case the name “Glacier Country” didn’t tip you off), though temperatures still reach into the 80s and 90s during summer. Wear broken-in hiking footwear so uncomfortable feet don’t distract you from our breathtaking views.
  2. Be bear aware! Make noise and carry bear spray. You’re in bear country, and no matter how wild you think you might be, we can assure you the wildlife have you beat. (It’s also never a good idea to try to feed the wildlife).
  3. Make room in your pack for water, snacks and a camera. It’s good to stay hydrated, and good to have a camera ready to capture your Montana moments.
  4. Always stay on the trail. Wandering Montana’s splendor is easy to do, but it’s important not to lose your way. We promise you won’t miss out on anything.
  5. Ask the locals. Montana is full of secrets and who better to ask than a Montanan?

Now that we’ve got our safety suggestions out of the way, here’s your much-awaited Part Two:

Huckleberry Mountain Lookout

Photo courtesy of Kristal Martin (IG: @kriszm_)
The hike to Huckleberry Mountain Fire Lookout is on the west side of Glacier National Park. After getting back from this beautiful hike, venture into Apgar Village or West Glacier in search of huckleberry pie. The search is half the fun.

DIRECTIONS: Head to Glacier National Park from West Glacier and Apgar Visitor Center. About two miles into Going-to-the-Sun Road you’ll take a left onto Camas Road. Find the trailhead six miles in on the left. The trail is six miles in, six miles out and climbs 3,400 feet in elevation. If this trek sounds like more than you bargained for, keep driving up Camas Road to find the much tamer 1/2 mile Huckleberry Nature Trail.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
PERMIT: National Parks Pass
HIGHLIGHTS: When “huckleberry” is in the name, it means there could be bears nearby. Bring friends and make noise so you don’t get into trouble.

Gable Pass

The Gable Pass trail system takes you through a beautiful alpine meadow with views of Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain (pictured). Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: Gable Pass is northwest of Babb on the east side of Glacier National Park and begins at the Lee Ridge Trailhead. To get here, take Highway 17 (Chief Joseph Highway) north. You’ll find the trailhead about half a mile before Chief Mountain Trailhead at the International Border Crossing (you should see a sign that says “Customs 1/2 Mile Ahead”). Find parking for the trail in the pullout about 150 yards north at the top of the hill.

ROUND-TRIP: 12 miles
HIGHLIGHTS:  View Mount Cleveland, Gable Mountain and Chief Mountain from this lush alpine meadow.

Ross Creek Cedars

DIRECTIONS: For a truly awe-inspiring stroll, head to Ross Creek and walk among the over 400-year-old western red cedars. If you’re coming from Thompson Falls, take Highway 200 northwest to Highway 56. You can also reach Highway 56 from Highway 2 heading east from Troy or west from Libby. South of Bull Lake on Highway 56, turn east onto Forest Service Road 398 (locally known as Bull Lake Road). Drive this paved road 4 miles to a parking area.

ROUND-TRIP: 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: Drive 2 miles farther up Bull Lake Road for a scenic view of the Cabinet Mountains and Bull River Valley.

Mount Aeneas

The view from Mount Aeneas on a bluebird sky day. Photo courtesy of Glacier Guides and Montana Raft.

DIRECTIONS: From Highway 83 north of Bigfork, take Echo Lake Road north and take a right onto Foothill Road. Follow Foothill until the road turns into Jewel Basin Road. Continue about 11 miles up Jewel Basin to Camp Misery Trailhead. Follow the old service road behind the gate 1 mile before the trail narrows and turns into trail #717. Follow the signs half a mile and stay on #717. From here, the trail takes quite the elevation gain. Follow the switchbacks up the mountain to get to the ridgeline for views of Glacier National Park, Flathead Valley and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

ROUND-TRIP: 6 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: This is a great mountain goat viewing area.

Little North Fork

DIRECTIONS: From Rexford, travel 7 miles south past the Koocanusa Bridge. Take Road 336 and follow for 1 mile to the marked trail.

ROUND-TRIP: Under 1 mile
HIGHLIGHTS: This short hike takes you past a sparkling waterfall.

Powerhouse Loop Trail

Thompson Falls is adding 1.5 miles of ADA-friendly trails to Powerhouse Loop in the summer of 2017. The additions will lead visitors to Thompson Falls State Park. Photo courtesy of the Sanders County Community Development Corporation

DIRECTIONS: After exploring Thompson Falls, head west on Main Street (Highway 200). Turn left on Pond Street, and take another left on Maiden Lane. Here you’ll find the PPL Montana Power Park and a great parking spot. Walk into the park and head to the powerhouse gates. To the left of the gate, you’ll see signs pointing to the trail. The signs will take you in a nice loop leading you back to Main Street and your car.

ROUND-TRIP: 2.3 miles
BONUS: Dog-friendly

Swift Creek Trail

DIRECTIONS: North of Whitefish Lake, Swift Creek has multiple trailheads perfect for a variety of visitors. To get here from Whitefish, drive north on Baker Avenue and continue on as the road turns into Wisconsin Avenue. Then head east on East Lakeshore Drive around the west side of Whitefish Lake. You will pass Big Mountain Road and continue another 5.9 miles before reaching the trailhead.

ROUND-TRIP: 3 – 6 miles
BONUS: The Swift Creek area includes an ADA accessible trail leading to the Swift Creek overlook.

Best Day Hikes in Western Montana: Part I

Western Montana’s Glacier Country covers the northwest corner of Montana, stretching from the Canadian border all the way down through the Bitterroot Valley. It’s a big region, with a lot to explore. We started this blog post hoping to share our top 10 favorite hikes, and we quickly realized it was just too much for one post…so, we’re splitting it up. Part One covers the more southern portion of Glacier Country including the Seeley-Swan Valley and the Bitterroot Valley. Next week we’re sharing the northern-most parts of Western Montana including the Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, Tobacco Valley and more.

One of the easiest ways to explore our little slice of heaven is to set out by foot. Here are a handful of trail tips for the aspiring Western Montana hiker:

Tips for the Trail:

  1. It’s always a good idea to wear layers and comfortable hiking shoes or boots. It gets a little cold around here (in case the name “Glacier Country” didn’t tip you off), though temperatures still reach into the 80s and 90s during summer. Wear broken-in hiking footwear so uncomfortable feet don’t distract you from our breathtaking views.
  2. Be bear aware! Make noise and carry bear spray. You’re in bear country, and no matter how wild you think you might be, we can assure you the wildlife have you beat. (It’s also never a good idea to try to feed the wildlife).
  3. Make room in your pack for water, snacks and a camera. It’s good to stay hydrated, and good to have a camera ready to capture your Montana moments.
  4. Always stay on the trail. Wandering Montana’s splendor is easy to do, but it’s important not to lose your way. We promise you won’t miss out on anything.
  5. Ask the locals. Montana is full of secrets and who better to ask than a Montanan?

Now that you’re all set for a hike, let us help you find one. Below is a list of our top 10 spots and how to find them.

Morrell Falls

The hike on Morrell Falls National Recreation Trail leads to Morrell Lake and the stunning Morrell Falls at the base of the Swan Mountain Range.

DIRECTIONS: From the town of Seeley Lake, travel half a mile north on Highway 83. Turn right on Morrell Creek Road, which becomes Forest Service Road #477/Cottonwood Lakes Road and travel just over 1 mile. Turn left on West Morrell Road #4353 and travel about 6 miles. Turn right on Pyramid Pass Road #4381 and travel a quarter-mile. Then turn left on Morrell Falls Road #4364. Continue for 1 mile to the Morrell Falls Trailhead and parking area.

ROUND-TRIP: 2.7 miles
BONUS: Dog-friendly

Turquoise Lake

DIRECTIONS: Flathead National Forest is home to so many natural wonders it can be a little overwhelming when you’re trying to plan a hike. Allow us to help, beginning with Turquoise Lake. In the Swan Valley, head south on Highway 83. Just past mile marker 38 south of Condon, turn right onto Kraft Creek Road. Drive 11.5 miles in to Glacier Creek trail #690. Follow #690 3 miles to Turquoise Lake trail #708. From there, you’re only 3 more miles to the beautiful turquoise waters of this pristine glacial lake.

ROUND-TRIP: 12.2 miles
PERMIT: Turquoise Lake is on tribal lands. Be sure to stop by any local grocer or outfitter to pick up your Tribal Conservation Permit.
HIGHLIGHTS: If you have extra time, hike down to Lace Lake for cliff jumping.

Three Lakes Peak

DIRECTIONS: Take Exit 82 on Interstate 90 east of Missoula and make your way west on Highway 10 until you reach Remount Road. Turn north onto Remount Road and drive 2.5 miles before turning west onto Ninemile Road. Continue for about 12 miles, then turn right onto Foothills Road #5498. Drive 5 miles to reach Burnt Fork Trail #418. This trail is easily navigated with posted signs.

ROUND-TRIP: 3.2 miles
PERMIT: Three Lakes Peak is on tribal lands. Be sure to stop in Missoula at Bob Ward and Sons, Cabela’s , MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks – Region 2 or Wholesale Sports to pick up your Tribal Conservation Permit.

Blodgett Canyon

Blodgett Canyon is known for its incredible overlook and relatively easy hike to the summit. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous you can venture into the valley for breathtaking views like this one.
Photo courtesy of Hunter Day Photography (hunterday.photo/montana)

DIRECTIONS: From Hamilton, take Main Street west into the foothills of the Bitterroot Mountains, following signs on Forest Service road 735 to the Blodgett Trailhead and overlook. The trailhead is to the right of the parking area.

ROUND-TRIP: 3 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: Several benches are placed along the hike up. Stop and take in the incredible views, but keep going—you’re in for a treat at the top!

Lake Como

Lake Como is easily accessible in any season. Photo: instagram.com/scottwilsonphotography

DIRECTIONS: Access Lake Como Road from Hamilton, Montana. Take the road around the south side of Lake Como to find Little Rock Creek Trailhead.

ROUND-TRIP: 9 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: This is a lovely overnight camping spot.

Mount Sentinel

Mount Sentinel’s colors change with the seasons, making it a fresh new hike every few weeks. Visit in April and May to catch the mountain covered in green and peek at the wildflowers sprinkled throughout the hike.

DIRECTIONS: Hike “the M” for a breathtaking view of the Missoula Valley. The trail starts at the eastern edge of The University of Montana campus. This steep, zigzag path includes 11 switchbacks and gains 620 feet of elevation in under a mile.

ROUND-TRIP: 1.75 miles
HIGHLIGHTS: The trail is named for the large whitewashed rock “M” placed on the mountainside in 1908.

Kootenai Creek

DIRECTIONS: From the Stevensville junction on Highway 93, travel north 1 mile. Turn west on Kootenai Creek Road and continue two miles to the trailhead.

ROUND-TRIP: Up to 18 miles…choose your adventure.
HIGHLIGHTS: Find great rock climbing about half a mile in. If you want to venture farther in, the Kootenai lakes can be found at mile 9.

Must-Stop Family Road-Trip Attractions

There’s nothing quite like loading up the family and embarking on an epic road trip to make some everlasting memories and there’s no place to make those memories better than Montana. From the Bitterroot Valley to Glacier National Park, Western Montana has enough scenic byways for a lifetime of cruising. We love road trips and camping so we partnered with Bretz RV & Marine to bring you a spring camping gear giveaway. Enter to win, load up your RV, chart a route through our charming small towns and make it a point to pull over and check out these fun and unique roadside attractions.

A Hefty Hereford

Stoney’s Bull sits at Clearwater Junction and greets travelers along Highways 200 and 93.

Along Highway 200 at Clearwater Junction, you’ll find a 15-foot-high, 18-foot-long Hereford steer.

50,000 Silver $ Bar

50,000 Silver $ Bar

Stop in St. Regis to visit the infamous 50,000 Silver $ Bar, stay for the burgers, shakes and souvenirs.

Stay: Salmon Lake State Park, Clearwater Junction, Big Larch Campground

Flathead Cherries

Flathead Cherries

At 3,000 feet above sea level, Flathead Lake has the perfect growing climate for cherries. Make your way around the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi to see the orchards, and be sure to stop at a roadside stand for a taste of this prized fruit.

Stay: Campground St. Regis, Nugget RV Park

Amazing Fun Center

The Amazing Fun Center in Coram, MT

When you’re done exploring Glacier National Park take the kids to the Amazing Fun Center in West Glacier. With a 1.5-mile maze, go karts, bumper boats and mini golf, you won’t leave without being at least a little a-MAZE-d.

Stay: Flathead Lake KOA in Polson, Polson Motorcoach & RV Resort, Edgewater R.V. Resort & Motel in LakesideDiamond S RV Park in Ronan

Seeley Lake

A family docks their boat as the sun sets over Seeley Lake

With easy water access, a walk-up burger joint (Bay Burgers, right on the lake!) and ice cream shops (try a blue-goo swirl cone at The Ice Cream Place), your family will fall in love with this little lake town.

Stay: Seeley Lake Campground

Darby

What road trip is complete without a stop at an old-fashioned candy store? Darby, Montana’s Old West Candy Store is the perfect spot to satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t miss out on the huckleberry options!

Stay: Travellers Rest Cabins and RV Park

Float the Clark Fork River and Ride the Carousel

A Carousel for Missoula

Stop in Missoula to ride one of the fastest carousels in the West. If you’re there on the weekend, be sure to check out one of several farmers markets on Higgins Avenue. Cool off with a scenic float down the Clark Fork River afterwards.

Stay: Jellystone RV Park, Cabins, Campground, Boat & RV Storage, Jim & Mary’s RV Park, Missoula KOA

A couple enjoys their RV stay in Glacier Country

We’ve partnered with Bretz RV & Marine of Missoula to help you on your journey to find these Western Montana roadside gems. Store gear, grill and lounge with this custom camping set perfect for your next adventure.

This contest has closed. Visit glaciermt.com for more giveaway opportunities.

Montana’s Top 5 Backcountry Skiing Tips

It’s the middle of winter, Mother Nature just hit us with some serious snow and, let’s face it, we all have a bit of cabin fever. It’s a good thing Montana’s cold-weather recreation options keep expanding. From miles of groomed trails to acres of untouched terrain, our mountains are waiting for you to come shred some powder. And since we know that planning a vacation can sometimes feel overwhelming, we made a little list to help you out of your winter rut.

1. Cat Skiing for Experts and Amateurs Alike

Photo: Great Northern Powder Guides

If you’re ready for some pristine high-country exploration in our awe-inspiring outdoors, Great Northern Powder Guides out of Whitefish is ready to help you climb more than 10,000 vertical feet into some of Montana’s best backcountry terrain. The fine folks at GNPG tailor their trips to every skill level—from families to seasoned experts—and they also specialize in avalanche safety training, so, rest assured, you’re in good hands. And if you’re looking for an overnight adventure, they offer backcountry yurts for a truly unique on-the-mountain lodging experience.

2. We Ski With a Little Help From Our Friends

Pro skier KC Deane drops powder pillows in the Great Bear Wilderness while internationally famous photographer Chris Burkard looks on. Photo: Devin Schmidt of Glacier Adventure Guides

Our friends at Glacier Adventure Guides are the experts among experts when it comes to backcountry skiing. These self-described “igloo-dwelling powder hounds” are always ready for a wild time, and they aren’t messing around when it comes to keeping you safe. They’re all certified in First Aid and CPR and trained in Outdoor Emergency Care (OEC), mountain travel and rescue, and avalanche awareness. These powder hounds are powder ready, just like our mountains.

3. Ski the Park

While winter in Glacier National Park means fewer lodging options and limited road access, it also means epic backcountry skiing. The National Park Service is our go-to resource for all Glacier National Park safety help. Their website shares safety tips for skiing, snowshoeing, trails and area closure reports. It’s always a good idea to check out avalanche reports and road closures before heading in. See Glacier Country’s Going-to-the-Sun Road status feed here. And when in doubt, ask a ranger! After gathering your safety gear, pick up your backcountry pass and a skiing and snowshoeing brochure from the park headquarters at the Apgar Visitor Center on your way into this backcountry winter wonderland.

4. Something Borrowed

LB Snow, Missoula, MT Photo: David Bosler

Not everyone has all the right gear to face the exhilarating elements and snow-covered landscape of Western Montana, but someone here always has what you need. If you don’t have a great uncle in the backcountry with 70 years of alpine gear in a trunk ready to lend out, try out one of these local rental shops:

5. We’re Here for You

Glacier National Park

We know Glacier Country like the backs of our hands…or gloves (depending on the season), and we’re always checking weather and trail reports because making sure you’re taking advantage of the best backcountry conditions is one of our favorite things to do.

We also love to chat, whether by phone, 1.800.388.5072, or live message, so get in touch anytime Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., and let’s plan your Montana backcountry ski adventure together.

Find even more inspiration and enter today for a chance to win monthly prizes in Western Montana’s Glacier Country at glaciermt.com.

Warren Miller + Montana = A Match Made in Winter Heaven

Being a born and raised Montana girl, I know that winter here is pretty special. But I also know that not everyone thinks of Big Sky Country as a winter travel destination, especially when there are so many other places that have great ski scenes, solid snow and multiple resorts to choose from. But I do know that there’s at least one guy who knows that winter in Montana is pretty rad: Warren Miller.

A skier catches air in Western Montana's Glacier Country. Photo: Noah Couser

A skier catches air in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Photo: Noah Couser

At 90+ years old, Warren is known as one of the most recognizable people in the ski and snow industry and to be honest, he’s got a lot of feathers in his winter-loving hat: he founded Warren Miller Entertainment in 1949, he’s been a filmmaker for 60+ years and he made films for WME for 40+ years. After a several-year hiatus from making films with Warren Miller Entertainment, Warren Miller himself is appearing in this year’s 67th feature film, “Here, There & Everywhere.” And while it’s pretty incredible to have Warren in this year’s movie, what makes it even sweeter is that Montana is one of the locations featured in this year’s film. 

The Montana segment of the movie—which was filmed at Turner Mountain, Whitefish Mountain Resort, Martin City and Seeley Lake—features ski athletes Tyler Ceccanti (read more about Tyler’s love for Montana snow here) and Collin Collins, as well as Montana native and snowmobile athlete Keith Curtis. And from some of the photos the boys sent me from filming in Montana last winter, it looks like they had a blast.

Take a look…

Taking in the view over the Kootenai River near Libby. Photo: WME

Taking in the view over the Kootenai River near Libby. Photo: WME

Night skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: WME

Night skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: WME

Skiing on trails in the backcountry of the Swan Mountains. Photo: WME

Skiing on trails in the backcountry of the Swan Mountains with YurtSki. Photo: WME

Keith Curtis catching air near Seeley Lake. Photo: WME

Keith Curtis riding near Seeley Lake. Photo: WME

This year, Montana is one of the main sponsors of the movie tour which means if you attend one of the movie’s domestic premieres, you can enter to win a customized winter trip for four to Western Montana’s Glacier Country. The film tour will be making various premiere stops in Utah, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Arizona, California, Nevada, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Virginia, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Maryland, Ohio, Maine, Vermont and Alaska. Check out the full schedule here.

And, just in case you can’t make one of the movie’s premiers, you can also enter to win monthly prizes (including a Whitefish Mountain Resort weekend getaway) weekend stay and play package here from October 1, 2016, through February 28, 2017.

xo,
TT

A Biker’s Dream in Montana

You guys, last month I did something I’ve never done before. I went fat biking just outside of Whitefish, Montana. And it was awesome. If you’ve never heard of fat biking, not a worry! It’s basically just riding a normal bike, except one with over-sized tires and wider rims that make it easier to navigate softer terrain, like snow.

Hello handsome.

My handsome fat bike.

For this adventure, I headed out to Whitefish Bike Retreat with some friends of mine where we had the chance to check out the retreat, get fitted for our bikes and be sure we were properly bundled for biking outside. This was my first time to Whitefish Bike Retreat and I have to tell you, I was impressed!

The bunk lodge at Whitefish Bike Retreat.

The bunk lodge at Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Located adjacent to The Whitefish Trail, the retreat offers access to nearby trails, as well as on-site lodging that includes a bunk lodge with private rooms and bunk rooms (where you share a room with someone else), as well as a kitchen, bathroom and living room. Take a look.
Sidenote: in the summer, Whitefish Bike Retreat also offers camping

The retreat is located in a beautiful forested area a short drive from downtown Whitefish.

The retreat is located in a beautiful forested area a short drive from downtown Whitefish.

One of the bunk rooms.

One of the bunk rooms.

One of the private rooms.

One of the private rooms.

I LOVED how Cricket, the owner, decorated the space.

I LOVED how Cricket, the owner, decorated the space.

A cozy reading corner.

Bikes were incorporated into all elements of the bunk lodge. 

After getting acquainted with the space at Whitefish Bike Retreat, we headed out to the Beaver Lakes Trailhead to take our fat bikes for a spin.

My bike at the trailhead.

My bike at the trailhead.

Our gang of biker babes.

Our gang of biker babes.

Biking the trail.

Biking the trail.

Making our way up the road.

Making our way up the road.

Happy bikers.

Happy bikers.

If you want to fat bike in Western Montana, here’s a few things to note:
Whitefish and Missoula are two of the best destinations for fat biking in Glacier Country.
-While you can bring your own bike, you can also rent a fat bike from Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana, for $45/day.
-If you’re an avid mountain biker, I’d recommend staying at Whitefish Bike Retreat, especially if you’re traveling with friends.

Happy (fat) biking…here’s to seeing you on the trail!

xo,
TT