Spring in Montana and Glacier National Park

First things first: Happy spring!

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll be straight with you. I know it seems like spring is not actually here (especially with the 14 inches of fresh snow at Whitefish Mountain Resort), but I promise you she’s on her way.

The view from Apgar Lookout webcam in Glacier National Park on the first day of spring

The view from Apgar Lookout webcam in Glacier National Park on the first day of spring.

Sure, spring plays coy every once in a while and is known to have a flair for the dramatic, but she is also one of the loveliest seasons in Montana. During her reign, Montana is covered with blooming flowers, emerging wildlife, fresh mountain air and bright blue skies. And with all of those attributes, you’d think spring would be a popular time to visit Montana…right?

Well, I’ve got good news for you: Spring in a season that is still largely undiscovered, especially here in Glacier Country. It’s not because she’s not enchanting, it’s just that her big sister summer is Montana’s most popular season in terms of the most time to visit. And while summer will likely remain Big Sky Country’s reigning queen, little miss spring is definitely holding her own.

Here’s are my top picks for some of the best places to experience spring in Montana.

Glacier National Park
While the park is open year-round, spring is one of the quietest times to visit. And even though the Going-to-the-Sun Road isn’t open in its entirety to vehicular traffic until at least June 20, there are still ample opportunities to play in Glacier National Park. Topping the list: biking the iconic road. Read more about biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in this story from Elevation Outdoors.

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The view from the loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The view from the loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Additional activities: Wildlife watching (be sure to keep a safe distance and never feed wildlife), red bus tours (the Huckleberry Tour begins May 25) and hiking. For the latest updates on which hiking trails are clear of snow, call 406.888.7800.  

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Browning (open year-round), Historic Tamarack Lodge & Cabins in Hungry Horse (open year-round) and Glacier Outdoor Center (opens in April). Additional properties around the park open in early May.

In the news: Fodor’s recently picked Glacier National Park as one of the 10 best national parks to visit this spring. Read more about it here.

Bigfork
This is one of the cutest towns you’ll come across in Western Montana. Located on the bay of Flathead Lake, it has an adorable downtown village, fun shops and easy access to hiking trails and water fun. In the spring, Bigfork also has a wide variety of events including Taste of Bigfork and Bigfork Whitewater Festival. Scheduled for May 24 and 25, the festival has kayakers paddling on the class IV section of the “Wild Mile” of the Swan River.

The Raven in Woods Bay (just south of Bigfork).

The Raven in Woods Bay (just south of Bigfork).

Additional activities: Take time to stroll through downtown and check out the art galleries and restaurants that call this quaint town home. Also, be sure to take the short drive south to The Raven for dinner and a drink. And if you’re looking to land a fish? Book a trip with Bagley Guide Service or Crane Mountain Guide Service.

Where to stay: Mountain Lake Lodge (gorgeous views of Flathead Lake) or Bridge Street Cottages.

Missoula
With the Clark Fork River flowing through the heart of downtown, spring takes off early in Missoula. (Side note: I’ve already seen kayakers paddling on Brennan’s Wave). And while there are events that happen here in the spring (like the International Wildlife Film Festival and Garden City Brewfest), it’s the easy accessibility to the outdoors that make Missoula a standout destination.

A spring stroll on the Clark Fork River.

A spring stroll on the Clark Fork River.

Additional activities: Hike the M Trail on Mount Sentinel, take in the view of Missoula from Blue Mountain Recreation Area or bike the Clark Fork riverfront trails. Plus, the driving range at Canyon River Golf Club is officially open, with the rest of the course slated to open in the next few weeks.

Where to stay: Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast (Tom’s scones are insanely delicious), C’Mon Inn (numerous hot tubs to soak your muscles after hiking) and Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park.

Here’s to a fun-filled spring.

xo,
TT

13 thoughts on “Spring in Montana and Glacier National Park

  1. Renee brookshire

    Like your website appreciate any information about traveling yo your neck of the woods.I will be leaving Atlanta,Ga on june 20,2015 to visit West Glacier,Montana . Can you please give me some information on the best way to arrange my trip.We have timeshares for 1 week each in West Glacierarea. We would like to visit Yellowstone after this another week.Is all of this feasible.Just trying to figure the best route. If you could please give me someinformationit would be appreciated.I dont know anything about direction.

    Reply
    1. tiatroy Post author

      Hi Renee, You bet that’s totally feasible. Give us a call at 800.338.5072 and we can provide suggestions for planning your trip.

      Reply
  2. John Cooke

    Liked your website. I have friends from Norway visiting next month and we had planned to be around Glacier National Park around the 1st week of April (1-4). He is most interested in viewing wild life (sheep, goats, bears, etc). Do you think we would be able to do any of this at that time of the year. Thank You.

    Reply
    1. tiatroy Post author

      John, that’s great! I’m so glad to hear your friends are coming out soon. There’s a chance you’re friend will be able to see wildlife when he’s here, but it will depend on the weather as well. Another option would be for him to visit the National Bison Range in Moiese (about 2 hours south of the park). He’d had a great chance to see bison and antelope and maybe even a bear.

      Reply
    2. Jackie

      We (17 yr old son and I) will also be coming march 30 – April 3 by Amtrak to Whitefish and are also going to the national bison range which I believe opens April 1. A little worried we made the wrong decision to come this time of yr. Hope not! Staying at Grouse Mountain Lodge.

      Reply
      1. tiatroy Post author

        Hi Jackie, the National Bison Range is open year-round, so you’re timing is great! I was actually just there last week and you should see many of the bison that call the range home. Plus, if you’re interested in downhill skiing, Whitefish Mountain Resort is still open when you’re here and gives great views into Glacier National Park. If you have any questions, feel free to call at 800.338.5072.

        Reply
  3. Terri

    Hi, my husband and I are coming the end of April. I know we can find plenty to do, are staying in whitefish. That said, are shops restaurants etc open during this time?

    Reply
  4. Frido

    Hi, we are preparing a trip to the north west in may/june 2017. We hope to start in denver and travel to yellowstone and next to glacier np.
    Reading all kind of comments on the weather i wonder is it wise to plan a visit to glacier park during our road-trip? Especially since the going to the sun road probably will be closed.
    Do you have any advice for us?
    Thx in advance

    Reply
    1. tiatroy Post author

      Hi Frido, if you’re starting in Denver and working your way up, you should be able to see much of Glacier National Park. Parts of the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be open during the time you’re here (it all just depends on weather). But the road is open to hikers and bikers before it opens to vehicular traffic, so that’s another option to explore as well. Plus, my best advice would be to not take Glacier National Park off your list based on when the Going-to-the-Sun Road will be open. There are SO many other beautiful places to see in the park as well, including Lake McDonald, Two Medicine, Many Glacier, Camas Road from the North Fork Road into Glacier National Park. And to be honest, seeing the park in June is absolutely breathtaking. 🙂 Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Reply
  5. Frido

    Thank you so much for your quick response. Since we live in country where we don’t have to worry about driving in snowy conditions, because there is hardly any of significans. Do we need to be prepared of snow conditions?
    Again thanks for your reply in advance

    Reply
  6. Vince

    This is a great article! A few of my buddies and I are planning a road trip during our spring break – last week of March – and I didn’t even think about all the snow! We were looking forward to sightseeing and hiking the trials but that will not be at possible. What would you recommend doing?

    Reply
    1. tiatroy Post author

      Oh how fun! The last week of March is still incredible for skiing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling. You could access some great hiking trails via snowshoes.

      Reply

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