Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meet Glacier Country’s Best-Kept Secret: Winter in Libby

Winter is typically known as the season of hibernation and all things cozy, though cabin fever often finds a way of sneaking in. Here in Glacier Country, we’ve got just the cure for that: the little town of Libby, Montana boasts big adventures.

Libby sits humbly in the scenic northwest corner of Big Sky Country, surrounded by national forestland “where the Cabinet Mountains meet the Kootenai River.” This unassumingly awesome small town does winter the way winter should be done. The terrain is vast, the powder is the epitome of perfection and the hospitality is authentic.

Small but mighty, Turner Mountain Ski Resorts offers great snow and big views. Photo: Bruce Zwang

Slay the snow downhill at Turner Mountain, with some of the best lift-assisted skiing in the U.S., according to SKI magazine. This tucked-away treasure delivers sought-after skiing and snowboarding on 25 named runs with a vertical drop of 2,110 feet, affordable lift tickets, no crowds and priceless adventure. Added bonus: The views are real jaw droppers. Turner is open Friday through Sunday. Don’t miss Turner Mountain Fun Day annually in February.

Nordic skiers find their paradise in Libby, too. Make a day of it on a groomed trail with lunch at a picnic shelter, and warm up later by a trailside fire ring, or soak up the solitude and serenity of open-ridge backcountry trails against the beauty of the Yaak and Kootenai.

Where the terrain and powder are seemingly endless, this is one epic place. Photo: Lincoln County SnoKat Club

For power-hungry powder seekers, hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails crisscross the region, where stunning views are a dime a dozen. Warming huts and Forest Service lookouts dot the terrain. Around these parts, snowmobilers will find plenty to do and see while winter is in Montana. 

When it’s time to get back to the warm and cozy, Libby provides. This little community bustles year-round with hometown charm, lodging, dining and amenities.

INSIDER TIPS

Play + Stay: Venture Inn and Restaurant
“Libby’s finest,” the Venture Inn offers the relaxing stay you need after a day in the snow. Cozy accommodations are their specialty, and the inn’s restaurant serves up delicious home-style comfort food all year long for hungry travelers. Bringing your powderhound along for the adventure? The Venture Inn has pet-friendly rooms, too.

Fill up and warm up at AuntT’s with meals like this Loaded Baked Potato soup. Photo: AuntT’s Coffee Corner

Caffeine for the Soul: AuntT’s Coffee Corner
Look. We know. The day begins after coffee. AuntT knows it too. That’s why she created Libby’s destination espresso bar with all of us in mind. And, since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, she makes that, too. See you at AuntT’s for a hot cup of joe and a delicious breakfast sammy.

Montana does craft beer very well and Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company is no exception.

Pull up a Barstool…er, a Couch: Cabinet Mountain Brewing Company
Dubbed “Libby’s Living Room,” Cabinet Mountain Brewing has become the city’s community gathering place. Montana’s only women-owned brewery, CMBC handcrafts mighty excellent ales and sodas, serves up delicious food made to pair well with their brews, and offers live music every week. If you find yourself in Libby on a Tuesday evening, it’s Taproom Trivia night at CMBC, so grab an award-winning Yaak Attack IPA and put on your game face.

LEAVE IT TO LIBBY:
Friends…Libby has a Polar Bear Club, and it’s a sight to behold. Every Sunday from the last one in October through the first one in April, this local club of Libby’s courageous—along with its unofficial leader, Polar Bear Rick—meets at 2 p.m. at the Farm-to-Market bridge over Libby Creek. Feeling bold? Take the plunge and you’ll be honored with a certificate for your bravery.

Libby just can’t help itself: it’s a true winter wonderland. Grab a pair of snowshoes and trek to Kootenai Falls for epic views of Mother Nature’s ice sculptures, or head to Ross Creek and experience a real-life snow-globe of giant western red cedars.  

Spread the Magic of the Season with Montana-Made Gifts

Here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we treasure each season for its unique offerings, and we don’t like to rush things—a Montana trait, for sure. So although we’re still savoring the smell of pumpkin spice and hot apple cider, we know the holidays are right around the corner. And with the season—no matter what holidays you celebrate—comes gift giving, which is one of our favorite things. The many gift options Glacier Country has to offer has us especially enthusiastic this year.

The Christmas spirit is bright and merry in Montana. Photo: TheBobFactor

Monthly Subscription Box

Here’s an option for those of us who want to give an ongoing taste of Montana to our loved ones. The Last Best Box offers a monthly subscription box chock-full of Montana goodies, many of them from Glacier Country. November’s “Fall in Montana” box featured Moxie Nosh’s Pumpkin Spice Cashew Butter (YUM!) and The Montana Homestead Emporium’s spiced pumpkin soy candles.

The “Montana Camping Box” is an amazing gift to give. Photo: Last Best Box

Bath and Body

Any holiday gift list isn’t complete without treats from Sage & Cedar, a bath and body shop with its own line of pure, natural and organic products. Just walking through the doors at either of Sage & Cedar’s two locations is relaxing. Online and gift options include products for men, mamas and babies, custom scents, and more. The anti-stress Coconut Milk & Honey Bath Salts come in scents like Glacier Spring, High Mountain Sagebrush and Montana Morning. For the fella who appreciates a Montana-made pampering, try the Shea Butter & Aloe Vera Brushless Shave Cream paired with the Vitamin E & Shea Nourishing Aftershave Lotion with cedarwood essential oil.

So many different and amazing choices, we can’t choose!

Leather

Wallets, clutches, saddle bags, totes, you name it…Western Montana is known for its leather, and we’re lucky enough to have some fantastic artists, craftsmen, craftswomen and leather smiths in the area. Functional, beautiful and oh-so-hip, we’ve found T Bird leather products to be the one accessary people consistently ask about. Goertzen Adventure Equipment makes fantastic gender-neutral messenger bags, fly-fishing accessory bags and versatile, must-have totes. And Pinch Flat Manufacturing makes fabulous and quintessentially western wallets, bi-folds, glasses cases and purses. You’ll have a difficult time picking just one.

These purses from Pinch Flat Manufacturing are swoon-worthy. Photo: Great Gray Gifts

Jewelry

Montana-made jewelry is a gift favorite for any occasion, but particularly for the holidays. Made of Mountains jewelry offers fun and casual Montana-shaped necklaces, earrings and bracelets, or for a daintier version, The Montana Way makes a sterling silver Montana with a heart over Glacier Country. Another favorite is Rag and Stone, featuring big, bold pieces incorporating stones found in the area, and because of the nature of the medium, all of the products are one-of-a-kind.

Our favorite pair of earrings from Rag and Stone. Photo: Great Gray Gifts

Candles

Capturing the essence of Montana, Wandering Bison’s hand-poured soy candles have clever scent names like “Peak Bagger,” “Alpen Glow” and “Trail Head.” Campfire and Whiskey? Pine and Lavender? Aged Leather? They’ve really got Montana figured out. We’re also big fans of Montana Homestead’s soy candles, with scents like Flathead Lake Cherry Blossom, Mountain Meadow and Lake House. They’re all made on-site, one at a time right here in Glacier Country.

So many delicious smells to choose from, but we are in love with “Trailhead”. Photo: Wandering Bison

Glacier Country Stores and Shops

Western Montana is a veritable treasure trove of fun finds for everyone on your holiday list. Here are just a few of our favorite shops: Great Gray Gifts in Charlo, Sage & Cedar in Whitefish and Kalispell, Think Local in Kalispell, Firefly in Missoula, The Montana Scene in Whitefish, Kalispell, Bigfork, Bozeman and Missoula, The Toggery in Whitefish and Kalispell and the Bitterroot Bit & Spur in Hamilton.

Happy Gifting!

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.

Cozy Up: Hot Drinks + Sweet Treats in Western Montana

As we trade in autumn hues for winter white, we gravitate toward all things warm and cozy. Western Montana is full of small-town coffee stops, diners, cafés and bakeries perfect for that warm caffeine boost and tasty treat you’re craving with these cooler temps. The next time you’re in Glacier Country enjoying our winter wonder, hit up one of our favorite sweet spots. The over-50-mile-stretch from Missoula down into the Bitterroot Valley is dotted with deliciousness, and the drive is a scenic one to boot.

Bernice’s Bakery – Missoula, MT

Watch artisan bakers prepare everything from cakes and breads to scones and macaroons, right in front of your eyes. Since 1978, Bernice’s has been providing Missoula with what some might call “the best sugar cookie west of the Mississippi.” Don’t believe us? Stop by for a perfectly iced, Montana-shaped sugar cookie and try to tell us we’re wrong. Plus, cookies always pair well with hot tasty beverages and Bernice’s has some of the best.

Enjoy a delectable macaroon with your latte at Bernice’s Bakery. Photo: Ashley Caitlin Photography.

Red Rooster Artisan Bakery – Hamilton, MT

If you’re a shameless sweet-coffee drinker or a hot cocoa fanatic, this is your place. To complement their artisan baked breads and pastries, Red Rooster often lists specials like “The Ugly Mug”—a caramel mocha with whipped cream and caramel chocolate drizzle. Duck into their shop for a winter warmup.

At Red Rooster Bakery in Hamilton, there are so many pastry options, so why not try them all? (We won’t tell… we promise.) Photo: Red Rooster.

Taste of Paris – Hamilton, MT

More of a brunch person? Don’t worry, we love brunch. This French Bistro is arguably the closest you’ll get to France in Montana. Stop by on Sunday for their AMAZING crepes.

Montana meets France with a Taste of Paris crepe. Photo: Taste of Paris.

Morningstar Caffeine & Cuisine – Stevensville, MT

If the first thing you think when you wake up is “I need caffeine” this is the place for you. Stop by for the main event—coffee—and stay for the quiches, pastries, soups and sandwiches.

Start your morning off right with a huckleberry bear claw from Stevensville’s Morningstar Café.

Florence Coffee Hut – Bitterroot

Sprinkled throughout the Bitterroot Valley and much of Western Montana, this coffee hut is always a comforting complement to a long day of Glacier Country exploration. Look for these adorable teal-colored drive-thrus in Missoula, Lolo, Florence (of course), Hamilton and Stevensville.

You’ll be hard pressed to travel through Glacier Country without seeing one of the famous Florence Coffee huts.

 

Le Petit Outre – Missoula, MT

Hearth-fired European-style breads and decadent pastries are rolled out every morning in one of the most delicious bakery cases you’ve ever laid eyes on. With names like Bacca Florentine, Kouign Amann and Pain au Nuit, it’ll be hard to decide what to pick. Cozy up in the bakery with an espresso and one of these incredible baked goods.

Kick back with a cannelle and coffee at Le Petit on Missoula’s Hip Strip. PHOTO: Rio Chantel Photography.

Biking Montana’s Bitterroot Trail: Missoula to Hamilton

Biking on the Bitterroot Trail. PHOTO: Saara Snow

Three decades of hard work and dedication went into the completion of the 50-mile paved trail that connects Western Montana’s cultural hub—Missoula—with the gorgeous Bitterroot Valley, known fondly around here as “the Root.” The trail, stretching all the way to Hamilton, is lined with small towns, scenic bends, recreation hot spots, and a whole lot of beauty and charm.

Paralleling the rugged Bitterroot Mountains to the west and the rolling Sapphire Mountains to the east, the trail allows bicyclists to weave their way through one of the most picturesque parts of our region, which is especially vibrant in the fall. The Bitterroot is also an angler’s paradise, and autumn in Montana  offers quieter waters with heavenly golden views.

Fall foliage colors the Bitterroot landscape. PHOTO: Donnie Sexton

START PEDALING: Missoula

Fuel up in this hip little mountain town with coffee shops galore. Pack some snacks and hit the trail from the central part of town. Missoula also makes a great base camp for Glacier Country exploration.

If you prefer to hit the path and go the distance without many stops, go for it; road bikes cruise the route frequently. It will not disappoint. If you’re up for it, venture off the path onto scenic backroads from Victor to Hamilton, or climb Skalkaho Pass and Sleeping Child Road.

If you’re like us and you’re looking for a slower-paced pedal with side adventures aplenty, there’s much to see and do in the valley. Recreation opportunities abound in the Bitterroot National Forest, the Bitterroot River beckons, and the quaint towns along the trail offer a place to rest, recharge and experience the western hospitality we’re known for.

Stops along the way…

Recreation areas, parks, mountain biking and hiking trails, and fishing spots dot the route, and various campgrounds provide drinking water, bathroom facilities and overnight sites, if you’re interested in making a stay of it.

The small towns that make up the Bitterroot Valley offer adventure in abundance, plus unique local eateries, breweries and watering holes to fill your belly and quench your thirst.

Fueling up at Morningstar Caffeine and Cuisine in Stevensville. PHOTO: Saara Snow

Lolo: Visit Travelers’ Rest State Park and Holt Heritage Museum (open by appointment only). Need a chocolate boost for the ride? Stop in at The Sweets Barn for just that.

Florence: Veer off the trail southeast of Florence for mountain biking at Threemile Wildlife Management Area, or head to Chief Looking Glass Campground for blue-ribbon trout-stream fishing access on the Bitterroot River.

Stevensville: Find yourself in Montana’s first settlement. Check out St. Mary’s Mission for a history lesson or the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge—a birder’s paradise. For a bite to eat, downtown Stevensville packs a lot of punch for its size.

Biking near Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Victor: Visit the Victor Heritage Museum, and also find easy access to the Bitterroot National Forest. Visiting in October? Victor’s Field of Screams is exactly the haunted adventure it sounds like it is.

FINISH UP: Hamilton

At the southern end of the trail, Hamilton is the Bitterroot’s largest small town. Tour the historic Daly Mansion or recreate in nearby Blodgett Canyon. After 50+ miles of pedaling, you might need a drink, and you’ve undoubtedly worked up a Montana sized appetite…so go ahead and make your way to Moose Creak Barbecue, or pull up a barstool at one of the town’s beloved breweries—Higherground Brewing Co. or BitterRoot Brewery, both of which serve delicious food, too.

Hamilton’s Daly Mansion. PHOTO: Destination Missoula

Biking the Bitterroot Trail is a pretty unique way to tour this storied and scenic valley and create your own adventure in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Grab a bike, and we’ll see you in the Root!

Fall Family Fun: Montana’s Harvest Traditions + Halloween Happenings

Pumpkin patch in Missoula. PHOTO: Destination Missoula

Western Montana’s golden fall foliage set against our signature big blue sky is enough to make autumn a lovely time to visit Glacier Country. Add to that our strong heritage of local harvest traditions and Halloween happenings, and the season becomes downright fun. Family activities abound this time of year, and we’re here to give you an insider’s guide to some of our best—and spookiest—festivities. So grab that pumpkin spice latte you’ve been waiting all year for (and perhaps a handful of candy corn) and give in to your craving for all things autumn. Oh, and don’t forget your costume.

Family Fall Fest: Missoula

October 21, 2017, 1 – 4 p.m.

Fall frolic happens at the Fort. Fort Missoula Regional Park, that is. The Fort’s classic Family Fall Fest has everything you’d expect—a costume parade, apple cider pressed on site, hayrides, pumpkin and face painting, games, sack races, and…a giant pile of leaves. Jump into fall in Montana at this fun family festival. Plus, it’s free. (A suggested $1 donation supports the Fort’s scholarship fund.)

Haunted Hayrides: Hamilton

October 27 – 28, 2017, 7 – 10 p.m.

What’s fall without a hayride and Halloween without haunting? Head to the historic Daly Mansion in Hamilton for both of these things—haunted hayrides. Ghouls, ghosts and goblins wander the mansion grounds. Witness a zombie wedding, scary clowns and a hillbilly village. Bonus: The Bitterroot Valley is absolutely stunning this time of year, so add a leaf-peeping scenic drive onto either end of your hayride, whether you stick to Highway 93 or turn off into one of the Bitterroot’s scenic canyons to pull over and take a golden fall hike (costumes optional, hiking shoes recommended).

Hamilton’s Daly Mansion. PHOTO: Destination Missoula

Field of Screams: Victor

Open through October 31 (see website for days/times)

Hailed as “Western Montana’s #1 Haunted Attraction” Victor’s Field of Screams is exactly what it sounds like it is. Daytime fun turns into nighttime terror. Bring your little goblins by during the daylight hours for wagon rides, a hay bale tower and cornfield fun without the spooks. But when the sun goes down the zombies come out, and it’s time for the big kids to play. Field of Screams is not for the faint of heart. Thrills and chills abound.

Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch: Kalispell

Open through October 31, 2017, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Picking out a pumpkin is part of the magic of the season, and building a day of autumn adventure around it makes it all the more special. Head to the breathtaking (especially this time of year) Flathead Valley and make fall farm memories at the family-run Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch, with activities like a giant jumping pillow and a huge construction site sand box, plus tractor tours, farm animals and train rides. Jump in the corn kernel shed, hang out by the plum trees, and savor the season with caramel apples, kettle corn and hot chocolate. Oh, and don’t forget to pick out a pumpkin!

Sweet Pickin’s Pumpkin Patch. PHOTO: Sweet Pickin’s

Festival of the Dead

November 2, 2017, 6 – 8:30 p.m.

Inspired by the traditions of the Mexican holiday El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Missoula’s unique and popular annual Festival of the Dead is a multicultural family-friendly event celebrating life and death through community arts. The festival culminates with a procession, which begins at the north end of downtown Missoula’s Higgins Avenue and processes to Caras Park, with post-procession performances by the University of Montana’s African Dance Class and Unity Dance and Drum.

Harvest Wrap-Up: Glacier Country’s rich autumn traditions are the perfect way to take in fall in Montana. Do note: It’s the season of favorite flannels and cozy sweaters, but be prepared for any kind of weather this time of year.

For more fall fun, visit our Fall in Montana page, where we’ve compiled a list of autumn activity ideas and events in our little corner of Big Sky Country. Be in the know about all the finest fall happenings, and also learn where to hike, bike, float, fish, golf and camp—all the obvious things we love about Montana—among the vibrant fall colors. We’ll also help you find the best local spots to kick back and relax with some of Montana’s favorite fall flavors (think pumpkin ice cream) and tastiest seasonal brews. There’s something for every member of the family to enjoy in a Montana autumn, plus shoulder-season pricing.

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!

Fire Update for Western Montana’s Glacier Country

AUGUST 31, 2017: Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is open for business, folks. But, you may have read the news that Lake McDonald Lodge recently closed early for the season because of air quality issues related to the Sprague Fire. This is certainly not great news, but it comes with the territory—literally. We want to make sure you’re kept up-to-date with accurate information about fire conditions in our region. So here’s the skinny on Lake McDonald Lodge and Glacier National Park.

The Sprague Fire is located a couple of miles away from Lake McDonald Lodge. It’s not currently, nor has it ever been, a threat to the lodge itself, but the resulting smoke is impacting the air quality in the area. And because of the topography of the region, a heavy smoke has been settling in a highly localized area around Lake McDonald Lodge. It’s particularly bad in the evening and early-morning hours, and out of concern for employees who live on-site, Glacier National Park Lodges opted to close the facility for the season.

It’s a real bummer—a bummer for those visitors who had reservations there. But luckily, Glacier National Park Lodges is helping guests find other accommodations. It’s also a bummer for lodge employees, but they’re getting relocated as well.

For those of us planning to enjoy a weeklong stay or weekend getaway in Glacier Park? We still get to! Just to put it in perspective, the Sprague Fire is currently a little over 2,000 acres, and Glacier National Park is 1,013,322 acres. And although the air conditions at Lake McDonald Lodge are bad in the evening, during the day they’re not half bad. And a mere 9 miles down the road from Lake McDonald Lodge at Apgar the air monitoring station readings fluctuate from “good” to “moderate.”

All of the park’s daytime recreational activities are operating as usual. Boat tours on Lake McDonald, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, hiking, fishing and the classic red bus tours on the Going-to-the-Sun Road are all open for business, with minor adjustments in scheduling and routes.

And, because our weather in Western Montana is fickle, weather conditions change frequently, resulting in frequent changes in air quality. Winds and a chance of rain are currently in the forecast, and we here at Glacier Country have been doing the rain dance daily to increase that likelihood.

In the meantime, if you want to check out the Glacier National Park webcams, you can see for yourself what it looks like in one of our favorite parts of the world.


AUGUST 2, 2017: Western Montana

Recently, Western Montana has been experiencing wildland fires, or fires that take place mostly in the backcountry and are usually sparked by lightning. They’re a natural part of our ecosystem. One of the results of these fires is that the air can become smoky, and occasionally plans have to be altered because of a road closure. We’re here to help in case either of these situations impact your trip to Montana’s Glacier Country.

Find gorgeous views and blue skies around every bend on the east side of Glacier National Park.

It’s unfortunate—we agree. We’d rather it weren’t smoky either. But it’s not calamitous, and there are many, many places in Western Montana, and the state in general, that are smoke-free. And if there does happen to be some smoke in the air, we have lots of indoor activities to keep visitors entertained. Museums? Breweries? Arts? Great dining options? We’ve got it all.

Things to Do in Glacier Country

Secondly, check out some of the resources below. They’ll let you know where the fires are (or, more importantly, where they aren’t), where the smoke is and if your visit to Western Montana will be impacted by either. Chances are, it won’t be, but if it is, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. You’re safe. Most of the fires are in the backcountry, miles from civilization and any structures. Montana is home to 3,443,038 acres of wilderness, and most of the fires are there. If, by chance, a fire gets close to a community, our firefighting experts communicate, evacuate if necessary, and communicate some more. You will not find yourself unwittingly in the midst of a wildfire while driving down the highway. Ever. Public safety is always the first concern. If an area is open, it is safe.
  2. Montana is huge. Vast, in fact. Over 145,556 square miles or 94,109,440 acres, to be precise. If you read that a fire is 6,400 acres, keep it in perspective, as that’s only a tiny, tiny fraction of Montana’s total acreage. Sometimes newspaper headlines or social media posts can be unnecessarily dramatic and imply that Montana as a whole is “on fire.” It sounds better than to say .000068 of Montana is on fire, which is actually more accurate.
  3. Fire is a natural part of our region’s ecology. Most fires are started by lightning, and are responsible for maintaining the health and perpetuity of certain fire-dependent ecosystems. We don’t pretend to be scientists, but we do have a lot of scientists in our area and resources in our partners at the state and federal levels, and we’ve attached a link to fire ecology below.
  4. And, because we always think the glass is at least half full here in Glacier Country, when the sky is a bit smoky, the sunsets are truly phenomenal. And, morel mushrooms, which are comparable to the delicious caviar of the mushroom family, like to grow in post-fire areas. We like that.

We’re already looking forward to a great morel mushroom crop next summer!

Here are some links that will help you plan your trip, and help you make informed travel decisions. Check back often, as these sites are updated daily.

We are lucky to have many webcams set up across Western Montana so we can see the beauty of Glacier Country at any time. Here are a few so you can see what is happening right now in our area:

If your travel plans have been affected by the current closures in Western Montana, Glacier Country Tourism’s call center can help you revise your travel plans. Chat online here or call 800.338.5072.