Tag Archives: Fall

Hitting the Road in Search of Montana’s Best Fall Colors

It’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of fall in Montana. In fact, I think it may be my favorite season. But to be honest, the changing colors of autumn in Big Sky Country tend to get overlooked for other more colorful destinations. Which I totally get. If you ask me, one of the reasons Montana is glanced over as a fall color destination is because people just don’t know that we actually have fall foliage here.

A perfect fall scene of the Bitterroot Mountains in Hamilton.

A perfect fall scene of the Bitterroot Mountains in Hamilton.

Which is why I’m glad my buddy Andy Austin, a local Montana photographer, decided to embark on a Montana Fall Tour in which he drove hundreds of miles to soak up, play in and photograph autumn’s beauty. He traveled from Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana (read more about the canyon here) to the expansive Paradise Valley and the ice-carved peaks of Glacier National Park on his search for Montana’s best fall colors.

Montana's Paradise Valley.

Montana’s Paradise Valley. Photo: Andy Austin

And while I lived vicariously through him on instagram while he was hitting the road, he said I could share his photos on the blog so you can have an up-close look at fall in Montana.

Take a look at his trip through Western Montana’s Glacier Country

The Middle Fork of the Flathead River from Belton Bridge in West Glacier.

The Middle Fork of the Flathead River from Belton Bridge in West Glacier. Photo: Andy Austin

A glimpse at Glacier National Park.

A glimpse at Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

A perfect fall sunset from Oberlin Peak in Glacier National Park.

A perfect fall sunset from Oberlin Peak in Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Looking into the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park.

Looking into the St. Mary Valley in Glacier National Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Fall at Whitefish Lake.

Fall at Whitefish Lake. Photo: Andy Austin

Tamarack trees (and the most beautiful fog I've ever seen) at Salmon Lake State Park.

Tamarack trees (and the most beautiful fog I’ve ever seen) at Salmon Lake State Park. Photo: Andy Austin

Hands down, the Seeley-Swan Valley is one of the best places to view tamarack trees (AKA western larch).

The Seeley-Swan Valley is one of the best places to view tamarack trees (AKA western larch). Photo: Andy Austin 

Soaking up Missoula's colors from Waterworks Hill.

Soaking up Missoula’s colors from Waterworks Hill. Photo: Andy Austin

To see more of fall in Montana, check out the #MontanaFallTour on instagram.

Oh and Andy…don’t forget to stop and pick me up on your next Montana road trip.

xo,
TT

Fall in Montana: Exploring the Bitterroot Valley

I think L.M. Montgomery said it best when she wrote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Truth be told, October (with November being a close second) is one of the most underrated months of the year, especially in Montana. And I get it. Weather in Montana can be a little unpredictable, but if you’re bold enough to visit in October you’re going to find that it’s actually quite lovely. Plus, when the weather has one of her “moods” she typically snaps out of it pretty quickly and returns to her pleasant self, complete with sunshine and gorgeous fall foliage.

October in Hamilton.

October in Hamilton, Montana.

And as we all know I’m in a constant search for fall colors in October, my road trip buddy and I decided to hit the road to Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Located just south of Missoula, the Bitterroot Valley is flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east. It’s also home to the Bitterroot River, lots of cute towns, incredible history and it still has plenty of open spaces to explore. And while we only had a few hours to explore, we soaked up as many incredible fall moments as we could with stops at Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo, the Daly Mansion in Hamilton and St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville.

Take a look…

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana's weather was dramatic.)

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana’s weather was moody.)

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine returned.

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine began to return.

Our first stop: Travelers' Rest.

Our first stop: Travelers’ Rest.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, this site of Travelers' Rest was used by Montana's First Nations.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the site of Travelers’ Rest was used by Montana’s First Nations as a gathering place and trading grounds.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary's Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary’s Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it's out of a western movie set.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it’s out of a western movie set.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion. The mansion’s grounds are one of the best places in Western Montana to see fall colors.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana's countryside, it warms my heart.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana’s countryside, it warms my heart.

You'll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

You’ll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

Our last stop (and one of my favorite places): the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

Our last stop: the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

If you plan to explore the Bitterroot Valley, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
-The valley is long (as in 96 miles long) and there’s so much to explore. I’d recommend noting a few of the key places you want to visit and then just see where the trip takes you. Basically, have a flexible plan for your visit.
-Take time to stroll the communities in the valley. Stevensville, Hamilton and Darby have charming downtowns with locally owned shops, boutiques and restaurants.
-If you like local beer, the valley is home to some great breweries. Check out Lolo Peak Brewing Company in Lolo, Bandit Brewing Co. in Darby, Blacksmith Brewing Company and Wildwood Brewery in Stevensville, and Higherground Brewing and Bitterroot Brewing Company in Hamilton. PS: the fish tacos at Bitterroot Brewing are amazing and Higherground Brewing has yummy pizza and salads.
-While you can do a day trip to the Bitterroot Valley from Missoula, it’s definitely worth staying a night or two. For lodging options, consider Alta Ranch in Darby (be sure to bring your fishing rod), Bitterroot Cabins in Hamilton, Time After Time Bed & Breakfast in Victor and Stevensville Hotel in Stevensville.
-If you’re doing a day trip, be sure to travel on Highway 93 one way and the Eastside Highway on your return trip.
-There’s abundant outdoor recreation options in the valley and it’s perfect for hiking, biking, bird watching, fly-fishing and camping.
-Be sure to check out the Bitterroot Trail, a 50-mile-long walking and biking path that connects Missoula and Hamilton.

And as for me, I’ll always be glad to live in a world (and a place like Montana) where there are Octobers.

xo,
TT

Hidden in Plain Sight: Montana’s National Bison Range

Truth time: some of Montana’s most incredible places are hidden in plain sight. One such example is the National Bison Range.

The National Bison Range is located in Moiese, Montana on a small mountain that's connected to the Mission Mountains by a spur.

The National Bison Range is located in Moiese, Montana on a small mountain that’s connected to the Mission Mountains by a spur.

This pile of elk antlers, collected on the range, welcome visitors to the range and its visitor center.

This pile of elk antlers, collected on the range, welcome visitors to the range and its visitor center.

Located just off Highway 93 north of Ravalli, the National Bison Range has 18,500 acres of terrain that’s home to an estimated 350 herd of bison, as well as antelope, bighorn sheep, elk, deer, coyote and black bear. It’s also home to three scenic drives: Red Sleep Mountain Drive, Prairie Drive and West Loop. Since snowfall will soon close Red Sleep Mountain Drive, a gorgeous 19-mile-long one-way road (and one of my favorite drives in Western Montana) that takes visitors through the heart of the range, I grabbed a pal and we headed to the National Bison Range to make the drive before winter arrives.

And while we could definitely tell that fall has officially arrived in Montana, it was such a beautiful day.

Take a look…

Welcome to the National Bison Range!

Welcome to the National Bison Range!

The start of the drives: to the right is Red Sleep; to the left is West Loop.

The start of the drives: to the right is Red Sleep; to the left is West Loop.

This guy slowly made his way along the road.

This guy slowly made his way along the road.

After chowing on some grass, he started making his climb up the mountain.

After chowing on some grass, he started making his climb up the mountain.

The view from the backside of the range on Red Sleep Drive.

The view from the backside of the range on Red Sleep Drive.

Early fall brings incredible weather patterns to Montana, resulting in skies like this.

Early fall brings incredible weather patterns to Montana, resulting in this sky.

This bison was taking a nap. I think.

This bison was taking a nap (I think).

We saw several bighorn sheep along the drive's route.

We saw several bighorn sheep along the drive’s route.

Driving through history and the highest water mark of Lake Missoula, a massive prehistoric lake that covered this area 15,000 years ago.

Driving through history and the highest water mark of Lake Missoula, a massive prehistoric lake that covered this area 15,000 years ago.

This buck's antlers were velvety gorgeous.

This buck’s antlers were velvety gorgeous. He also did a great job blending into the landscape.

Some antelope, trying to blend in. They stood there motionless.

Some antelope, trying to blend in. They stood there totally motionless.

After seeing a handful of bison along Red Sleep Drive, we saw this massive herd as we were getting ready to leave.

After seeing a handful of bison along Red Sleep Drive, we saw this massive herd as we were getting ready to leave.

A few things to keep in mind when visiting the National Bison Range: 
-The bison range is open year-round and each season offers a chance to view wildlife.
-There are three drives on the range: Red Sleep Mountain Drive (open mid-May to early October), West Loop and Prairie Drive. Both West Loop and Prairie drive are open year-round. Learn more about all three drives here.
-Vehicles over 30 feet long are not allowed on Red Sleep Mountain Drive.
-The National Bison Range is an ideal location for viewing wildlife and remember that they are most active at dusk and dawn. The NBR has helpful hints for how and where to photograph wildlife on the range here.
-When visiting the range, take time to explore its nearby communities including Moiese, Ravalli, St. Ignatius and Charlo.
-If you’re looking to overnight near the National Bison Range (allowing for easy access to early morning views and prime wildlife-watching), check out Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo.
-Front gate hours are 6:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
-Cost to visit the range is $5 vehicle.

And if you need a personal guide on your visit to the National Bison Range? Call us (or actually tweet us at @GlacierMT)!

xo,
TT

Fall in Montana: Driving Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road

Last week, my favorite travel partner and I hopped on Amtrak’s Empire Builder and rode it from Whitefish to East Glacier Park. (You can read the full post on our train trip in Montana here.) And you guys, it was such a fun adventure! But our trip didn’t end there.

After disembarking the train, we decided to head into Glacier National Park and drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road. From East Glacier Park, we took Looking Glass Highway (Highway 49) above the Two Medicine Valley and made our way to St. Mary and the east entrance of Glacier National Park.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Looking into Two Medicine from Looking Glass Highway.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Fresh snow in Glacier National Park.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in the state.

Truth time: Looking Glass Highway is one of my favorite drives in Montana.

After a quick stop at St. Mary Lodge & Resort, we headed into St. Mary and started driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road. And you guys, it was incredibly beautiful!

Take a look…

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Hello, St. Mary Valley.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Looking up the road from Two Dog Flats.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Going-to-the-Sun Road.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

As we were driving past St. Mary Lake, the reflection practically begged us to pullover. So we did.

I'm confident I could have sat here for hours.

I’m confident I could have sat here for hours.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Fall colors + St. Mary Lake = me in love.

Hi.

Hi.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Wild Goose Island on St. Mary Lake.

Debbie taking in the view.

Debbie taking in the view.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

The fall color on the trees and underbrush was starting to really change, so we took a short hike down from Wild Goose Overlook.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

This is my piece of heaven on earth.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Driving up the road out of the tunnel.

Fresh snow on Going to the Sun Mountain.

Fresh snow on Going-to-the-Sun Mountain.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

Two Montana-loving traveling buddies.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

You guys, check out the fresh snow on the ground behind me.

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it's so pretty it almost looks fake. But it's not, I promise.)

The view from Logan Pass. (I love this view, but it’s so pretty it almost looks fake. But it’s not, I promise.)

After driving up to Logan Pass and back down again, we had some free time before we needed to return to East Glacier Park and catch our train home. So we did what any two Glacier National Park-lovin’ gals would do: we drove to Many Glacier.

Take a look…

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company's wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns (Glacier Park Boat Company’s wooden boat) heading to the head of Swiftcurrent Lake.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

Two Guns under Mount Grinnell.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

The view from the dining room at Many Glacier Hotel.

A few things to note if you plan to visit the east side of Glacier National Park in fall:
-Rental cars are available from spring to fall at Glacier Park Trading Company in East Glacier Park.
-Plan for cool weather. While it was gorgeous when we went, we did bust out our scarves and coats at Logan Pass. Weather in the mountains can change quickly, so always be prepared.
-Bring water.
-If you plan to visit Glacier National Park in the fall and want to stay in one of the historic park lodges or motor inns, plan to book your travel early (like now).
-Don’t be afraid to stay outside of the park. There are plenty of lodging options just outside the park that tend to stay open later in the season.
-If you time it right, you can catch dinner at Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park. They’re open for dinner through September 30.
-The Going-to-the-Sun Road is slated to be open in its entirety through October 16, weather dependent. You can check the road status here.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

All Aboard for Montana: A Day Trip on Amtrak’s Empire Builder

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I do a pretty good job of taking advantage of the offerings that are found in my Montana backyard. Except, I don’t always try everything that I wish I would. Take for example Amtrak’s Empire Builder line. It runs between Chicago and Seattle and passes through Montana’s northern tier two times per day, making stops in Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex, East Glacier Park, Browning, Cut Bank, Shelby and Havre.

Amtrak's Empire Builder traveling the tracks near Glacier National Park. Photo: Amtrak

Amtrak’s Empire Builder traveling the tracks near Glacier National Park. Photo: Amtrak

Ready for the truth?

Here it comes: the last time I rode Amtrak’s Empire Builder I was six years old and on a first grade field trip when we rode the train from Shelby, Montana to East Glacier Park, Montana which—by the way—I thought was so awesome. And since I haven’t been six years old for a few years, it seemed like it was time that I got back in the train-lovin’ saddle and took a ride through my own backyard. So I grabbed one of my favorite traveling companions and we climbed aboard the Empire Builder. And you guys, it was pretty fun.

Take a look…

Our starting point: Whitefish, Montana.

Our starting point: Whitefish, Montana.

Waiting for the train to come in.

Waiting for the train to come in.

Here's our ride.

Here’s our ride.

Making our way to our seats.

Making our way to our seats.

Fall colors were starting to arrive along the river.

Fall colors were starting to arrive along the river.

Loved this view looking back west out of the train.

Loved this view looking back west out of the train.

Something I learned on this trip: it's really hard to get good photos from the inside of a train car looking out.

Something I learned on this trip: it’s really hard to get good photos from the inside of a train car looking out. 😉

The observation car was my favorite spot on the train.

My favorite spot on the train: the observation car.

Making friends with a National Park volunteer in the observation car.

Making friends with a National Park volunteer in the observation car.

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.

Coming down off Marias Pass, you're rewarded with this view.

Coming down off Marias Pass, we were rewarded with this view.

Entering the Blackfeet Nation. Traveling from west to east, you abruptly notice the change in Montana's topography as you hit the plains.

Entering the Blackfeet Nation. Traveling from west to east, you abruptly notice the change in Montana’s topography as you hit the plains.

Arriving at our destination: East Glacier Park, Montana.

Arriving at our destination: East Glacier Park, Montana.

The train station at East Glacier Park.

The train station at East Glacier Park.

Displays from the Blackfeet Nation inside the train depot at East Glacier Park.

Displays from the Blackfeet Nation inside the train depot at East Glacier Park.

It's official: we love train travel in Montana.

It’s official: we love train travel in Montana.

A few things to note when riding Amtrak’s Empire Builder to (or through) Montana:
-Go with the flow. Trains aren’t known for always operating on time; our eastbound train was 90 minutes late, but I’ve found that when doing a trip like this where things can tend to run behind, it’s easier to just roll with it. You’ll be happier and pleasantly surprised when it’s on time.
-If you can, snag a seat in the observation car. During the late spring, summer and fall, Amtrak’s Trails & Rails program has volunteers from the National Park Service on the train who offer interpretive commentary from Seattle, Washington to Shelby, Montana.
-You can get the best pictures by placing your camera as close to the window as possible (thanks to NPS guides who shared that insider tip!).
-If you’re getting on or off in Whitefish, West Glacier or East Glacier Park, plan to arrive early so you can check out the train stations. The Whitefish station has an on-site museum, while East Glacier Park has interesting and historic photos from the early time of train travel to the area.
-Don’t be afraid to ask the conductors questions about the train, best views, etc. They literally know everything there is to know and are incredibly nice.

xo,
TT

7 Things to do in Montana this Fall

We all know it’s coming. It’s been sneaking up on us like a thief in the night, taking a few minutes of daylight in the morning and leaving a crispness in the air every night. You know what I’m talking about…fall. 

Mount Sentinel in Missoula.

Fall colors along the Clark Fork River in Missoula.

Around here, if you ask a Montana local, chances are they’ll tell you that fall is one of their favorite seasons. And to be honest, fall is one of the best times to visit Big Sky Country. The weather is gorgeous (always pack layers, just in case) and September offers some of the most consistently nice temperatures of the year, the changing foliage is stunning and there’s still so much to do. But there’s also a catch when it comes to fall travel to Western Montana: sometimes you don’t know where to start when it comes to planning your travel. To which I say, let’s remedy that.

As a lover of all things fall and Montana, I’ve rounded up the best things to do and see this autumn under our big blue sky.

1. Take a drive. Montana’s a scenic place, which means many of our roadways are perfect routes for seeing stunning colors, complete with snow-capped peaks and wildlife-watching opportunities. Some of my favorite drives include the Bitterroot Valley, the Seeley-Swan Valley and Highway 200. Sidenote: read more about my top three fall drives here

This view is located just off Highway 93 at Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo.

This view is located just off Highway 93 at Ninepipes Lodge near Charlo.

2. Visit Glacier National Park. I’m going to be very honest with you here: fall might be THE BEST time to visit Glacier National Park. Plus, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is open in its entirety through mid-October (weather dependent) making it easy to explore the trails along the road. Plus, you can take a boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company through late September, a red bus tour through mid-October or a guided hike with Glacier Guides. Sun Tours also offers tours through September 30. Some of my favorite hikes include Hidden Lake and Scenic Point.
ICYMI: read about last fall’s trip to Glacier National Park here

Kayaking on Lake McDonald.

Kayaking on Lake McDonald.

3. Play at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Located 15 minutes from downtown Whitefish, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers on-mountain activities on the weekends (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) through late September.

Biking the trails on Big Mountain.

Biking the trails on Big Mountain.

4. Tour the Daly Mansion. Located on 46 acres outside of Hamilton, the Daly Mansion is one of the best places to visit during fall. Drive (or walk) down the tree-lined drive just to look at the colors before taking a guided tour at the mansion. Daily tours are offered on the hour through the first week of October.

The lane at the Daly Mansion.

The lane at the Daly Mansion.

5. Visit the Blackfeet Nation. You’ve heard me say it before (and let’s face it, this isn’t the last time I’ll say it), but I love the Blackfeet Nation. Located on the east side of Glacier National Park, fall on the Rocky Mountain Front is pretty incredible. Plus, there’s year-round lodging and attractions in Browning that include The Museum of the Plains Indian and Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post. Visitors can also take the self-guided Blackfeet Trail Tour or a guided tours with Blackfeet Outfitters.

A guided tour on the Blackfeet Nation with Blackfeet Outfitters.

A guided tour on the Blackfeet Nation with Blackfeet Outfitters.

6. Bike the Hiawatha Trail. Located in Montana and Idaho, the Route of the Hiawatha is a blast to ride during fall. They’re open daily through the last full weekend in September and the trails offers great views of the Bitterroot Mountains. Plus, you get to ride through tunnels and across high steel trestles.

Riding through one of the tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha.

Riding through one of the tunnels on the Route of the Hiawatha.

7. Paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail. There are several reasons to paddle this canoe trail (located just a few miles north of Seeley Lake) in fall, including the fact that the Seeley-Swan Valley is a gorgeous destination for viewing fall foliage. Plus, it’s even quieter in autumn.
Insider tip: you don’t have to bring your own canoe. Rocky Mountain Adventure Gear rents canoes and kayaks in downtown Seeley Lake. 

Paddling the canoe trail.

Paddling the canoe trail.

And if that’s not enough, be sure to check out more fall travel ideas here.

xo,
TT

One Day with Blackfeet Outfitters: Exploring Montana’s Blackfeet Nation

There are some places that hold a special place in my heart. One such place: Montana’s Blackfeet Nation.

Blackfeet warrior sculptures at one of the entry points on the reservation.

Blackfeet warrior sculptures at one of the entry points on the reservation.

This blond, messy-haired girl grew up about 90 minutes south of Browning in Augusta along the Rocky Mountain Front. When I was just a little miss, we spent quite a bit of time in, around and on the reservation and have lifelong family friends who live there. Earlier this year, this blond girl took her messy hair and memories and headed to the Blackfeet Nation to go on a jeep tour with Blackfeet Outfitters.

Our ride for the tour, a 1985 Army jeep.

Our ride for the tour, a 1985 Army jeep.

We set out with Alger Swingley, owner of Blackfeet Outfitters and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, to spend some time exploring the reservation.

Here’s a peek at our day…

Alger picked our group up in St. Mary and we headed for the Many Glacier area and this view.

Alger picked our tour group up in St. Mary and we headed for the Many Glacier area and this view.

The jeep tour took us to an area on the reservation that is only accessible to guests of the tour.

The jeep tour took us to an area on the reservation that is only accessible to guests of the tour.

The jeep handled the steep terrain like it was nothing + our reward was this perspective of Glacier National Park.

The jeep handled the steep terrain like it was nothing + our reward was this perspective of Glacier National Park.

We also traveled to this pristine country near Chief Mountain, a sacred site for the Blackfeet people.

We also traveled to this pristine country near Chief Mountain, a sacred site for the Blackfeet people.

I had to snag this shot to remind myself how lucky I am to call Montana home.

I had to snag this shot to remind myself how lucky I am to call Montana home.

After a day spent venturing around the Blackfeet Nation, we returned to Alger’s headquarters in Babb for a traditional Blackfeet lunch prepared by Mary Ellen Little Moustache, a member of the Blackfoot Confederacy. While Mary Ellen’s traditional lunch was tasty and interesting, it was her spirit that really impressed me. A soft-spoken woman, Mary Ellen radiated strength, wisdom and kindness and throughout the time I spent with her, I mainly sat and listened, soaking up her presence and knowledge.

Mary Ellen Little Moustache.

Mary Ellen Little Moustache.

Our traditional Blackfeet lunch featured fry bread, bison soup and buffalo tongue.

Our traditional Blackfeet lunch featured fry bread, bison soup and buffalo tongue.

Mint tea, made from wild mint.

Mint tea, made from wild mint.

It was a good day.

xo,
TT

Fall in Montana’s Glacier National Park

Earlier this fall, I had the chance to spend a few uninterrupted days in one of my favorite places: Glacier National Park. I was hitting the road with some pals who had flown in from across the country and for most of them, this was their very first time visiting the park. Needless to say, I was excited to show them just why this place is so special to me. And I’ve got to tell you, the weather, scenery and company didn’t disappoint.

A perfect morning at Lake McDonald.

A perfect morning at Lake McDonald.

We started off our stay in Whitefish, where we checked out their weekly farmers market before staying at the brand new Whitefish Downtown Suites. These adorable (seriously, so cute) vacation rentals are on Central Avenue and have downtown views.

Relaxing in my very own suite.

Relaxing in my very own suite.

After a restful sleep, I decided to test everyone’s limits and we headed for Glacier ZipLines in Columbia Falls to try our luck at their 8-zipline course. Some of my friends weren’t quite as eager as I was to see how fast they could take the zips, but we all had a really fun time and as an (apparent) adrenaline junkie, I loved every minute of zipping through the trees.

afd

Getting ready to head out on the course’s first zipline!

From there, we ventured north into one of the wildest parts of the Glacier National Park—the North Fork—and the off-the-grid community of Polebridge. The changing colors of the leaves, combined with huckleberry macaroons from the Polebridge Mercantile and the beauty of Bowman Lake made for a great day.

Our first view of the peaks of Glacier National Park from the North Fork Road.

Our first view of the peaks of Glacier National Park from the North Fork Road.

Hello, Polebridge.

Hello, Polebridge.

A fresh dusting of snow at Bowman Lake.

A fresh dusting of snow on the peaks at Bowman Lake.

My friend Scott and I showing just how much we love Glacier National Park.

My friend Scott and I showing just how much we love Glacier National Park.

After our trip to Bowman Lake, we decided our next full day would be spent along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Sidenote: Let’s be honest, the Going-to-the-Sun Road is a beautiful drive any time you take it. However, there is something incredible about the road in the autumn. If you haven’t visited during September and October, I highly recommend it. 

Our first stop: Lake McDonald.

Our first stop: Lake McDonald.

Stopping to take in this view.

Stopping to take in this view along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Hidden Lake is beautiful.

From Logan Pass, we hiked to the Hidden Lake Overlook.

Our traveling group!

Our traveling group!

After hiking to Hidden Lake, we continued on the road toward St. Mary. Along the way, we stopped to take a look at the area that was burned by the Reynolds Creek Fire.

Following our hike to Hidden Lake, we continued on the road toward St. Mary. Along the way, we stopped to take a look at the area that was burned by the Reynolds Creek Fire. It was interesting to see how much new vegetation was already taking root.

After a sun-kissed day exploring the Going-to-the-Sun Road and Logan Pass, we made our way back toward Kalispell’s Glacier Park International Airport so my friends could catch their flights home. As for me, I’m not sure if it was the fantastic company or the changing colors of fall that totally took my breath away at various points on our trip or if it was the opportunity to spend time in the park during one of its most quiet seasons, but I do know this: those few autumn days in Glacier National Park are days I’ll always remember.

xo,
TT

Fall Getaways + Travel Deals in Montana’s Glacier Country

I’m a summer girl, through and through. But I’ll tell ya what, autumn is really trying to make me fall in love with it. Which leads me to this: I think I’m actually falling for fall.

Fall in downtown Missoula. Photo: Taylar Robbins

Hello you little charmer (fall in Missoula). Photo: Taylar Robbins

During these last few days in Montana, I’ve been able to see, feel and smell fall and the fact of the matter is this: it’s beautiful and delicious. It’s also still kind of a big secret. 

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo by Jesse Hansen.

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park. Photo by Jesse Hansen.

Western Montana hasn’t really been thought of as an autumn destination, but I’m here to tell you that fall in Montana is perfection. And along with that perfection comes some pretty sweet travel deals. Check out my top fall travel deals below…

Izaak Walton Inn: Essex
This September, the Izaak Walton Inn is offering rooms starting at $89/night. To book, call 406.888.5700 and mention “local appreciation.”

Glacier Guides Lodge: West Glacier
From September 23 – October 14, rooms at Glacier Guides Lodge are $144.45/night (a savings of more than 25%). Book by calling 800.521.7238.

Belton Chalet: West Glacier
The historic Belton Chalet has a “Fall into Glacier” package for $180/couple. The package is valid from September 25 – October 3 and includes a one night stay and dinner for two at the Belton Grill Dining Room. Call 406.888.5000 to book.

Glacier Park Lodge: East Glacier Park
This month, Glacier Park Lodge is offering a “local rate” that has rooms starting at $115/night. Call 406.892.2525 to book and ask for the local rate.
Sidenote: this special is available for all residents of Montana, Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wyoming, Alberta and British Columbia.

Glacier Ridge House: West Glacier
From October 3 – 18, Glacier Ridge House (a vacation rental) is offering 25% off nightly or weekly rates. Book here.

Running Horse Inn: Huson
Valid September 14 – 30, the Running Horse Inn has a special fall package that includes appetizers, specialty drinks, a full home-cooked breakfast and a box lunch.

You can also check out more travel deals throughout Western Montana here.

xo,
TT

Access to Montana’s Going-to-the-Sun Road Extended for 2015

Good (awesome) news: Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is going to be open in its entirety through Sunday, October 4, 2015 (two weeks longer than originally planned).

A red bus cruises along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

A red bus cruises along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Why is this awesome? Longer access to the Going-to-the-Sun Road gives visitors (like you and me!) the option to explore this corridor’s hiking trails and to see fall foliage that hasn’t been accessible via car in recent years. Plus, we’ll get to see views like this…

Looking down into the Lake McDonald Valley from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Looking down into the Lake McDonald Valley from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Early morning fog + fall colors.

Early morning fog + fall colors.

Fall colors from a red bus tour

Fall colors from a red bus tour.

Also, if you do plan to visit Glacier National Park in September and October, here a few things to know…

-After October 4, hikers and bikers will have access to the east side of the Going-to-the-Sun Road on weekends and evenings, weather permitting.
Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Company will be doing daily group/custom hikes until October 3, as well as rafting and fishing trips (as determined by water levels). Plus, Glacier Guides Lodge in West Glacier will be open until October 15.
Glacier Sun Tours offers regular tours and departs from East Glacier Park and St. Mary.
Red bus tours will be departing from the west side through October 18.
-OSO Smokehouse (located inside Historic Tamarack Lodge) is open every day through mid-September. After mid-September, they are open for dinner on Friday and Saturday, and for brunch on Sunday.
-Swan Mountain Outfitters is offering trail rides from the West Glacier corral through October 4.
The Crown of the Continent Discovery Center in West Glacier is open through October.
Great Northern Raft and Resort is open for lodging until October 15. They’ll also be offering fishing and rafting through the first week of October.
-Logan Pass is accessible from the west entrance through the third weekend in October, weather dependent.

So…who wants to meet me in the Crown of the Continent this October?

xo,
TT