Tag Archives: Glacier Country

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

25 Photos from Summer in Montana

Truth be told, it doesn’t get much better than summer in MontanaAnd this year, summer has been pretty fantastic. From visiting Bighorn Canyon in Southeast Montana to biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, it’s been full of adventure, beautiful weather and lots of memorable moments. Before the days of summer fully give way to fall, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at a summer spent in Montana.

Here’s a look at 25 of my favorite summer memories from living, working and playing in Big Sky Country.

1. Bighorn Canyon. 

Visiting Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana was the highlight of June.

Visiting Bighorn Canyon in the southeast corner of Montana was the highlight of June.

2. Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill. 

One of the best views in Montana.

One of the best views in Montana.

3. Gladiator Mountain. 

To get here, you're well-advised to take a hearty horse.

To get here, you’re well-advised to take a hearty horse.

4. American Indian dancers at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo. 

The dancers + this backdrop made for a perfect morning.

The dancers + this backdrop made for a perfect morning.

5. A late summer sunset. 

A Missoula sunset.

A Missoula sunset.

6. Horses at Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork. 

Letting the horses out to pasture.

Letting the horses out to pasture.

7. A misty morning in Glacier National Park. 

Snow and low clouds lingered in mid-May.

Snow and low clouds lingered in mid-May.

8. Missoula from Waterworks Hill. 

Taking in the view of the Garden City.

Taking in the view of the Garden City.

9. Twilight on Flathead Lake. 

I think this is what they call a perfect Montana summer night.

I think this is what they call a perfect Montana summer night.

10. Riding through remnants of a forest fire. 

Riding through several miles of forest-fire burn was one of the most vibrant memories from the summer.

We rode through several miles of forest-fire burn and this experience is one of my favorite and most vibrant memories from the summer.

11. The Rocky Mountain Front east of Lincoln. 

Country roads, take me home.

I can only imagine the scenes along this road.

12. The Clearwater Canoe Trail. 

Sky and land collide near Seeley Lake.

Sky and land collide near Seeley Lake.

13. Storm clouds over Lake McDonald. 

One of my favorite scenes, the boats of Glacier Park Boat Company at Apgar in Glacier National Park.

One of my favorite scenes, the boats of Glacier Park Boat Company at Apgar in Glacier National Park.

14. The Blackfeet Nation + Glacier National Park. 

This view is just off Highway 2 between East Glacier Park and Browning.

This view is just off Highway 2 between East Glacier Park and Browning.

15. Main Street in Augusta, Montana. 

One of the perks of small-town living: little traffic.

One of the perks of small-town living: little traffic.

16. Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road. 

One of my favorite memories of the entire year: biking in Glacier National Park.

One of my favorite memories of the entire year: biking in Glacier National Park.

17. The Augusta Rodeo. 

One of the greatest things about summer is that nearly every town in Montana has a rodeo.

One of the greatest things about summer is that nearly every town in Montana has a rodeo.

18. Playing in the water at Placid Lake. 

The Seeley-Swan Valley is home to hundreds of lakes. Placid Lake just happens to be my personal favorite.

The Seeley-Swan Valley is home to hundreds of lakes. Placid Lake just happens to be my personal favorite.

19. Cotton-candy clouds. 

Montana sunsets may be the best sunsets.

Montana sunsets may be the best sunsets.

20. White River, Bob Marshall Wilderness. 

Montana's backcountry looks like THIS.

Montana’s backcountry looks like THIS.

21. Sawtooth Mountain + Montana’s plains. 

One of the most stunning places to see is where the mountains and plains meet.

One of the most stunning places to see is where the mountains and plains meet.

22. The Chinese Wall in Montana. 

Standing on top of the Chinese Wall.

Standing on top of the Chinese Wall, a 22-mile-long rock escarpment in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

23. Country roads. 

Driving Montana's country roads is something I highly recommend when visiting Big Sky Country...because of views like this.

You can never go wrong taking a country road.

24. The Crown of the Continent. 

Many park visitors come in July and August. This photo is why I love visiting in June.

Many park visitors come in July and August. This photo is why I love visiting in June.

25. A barn in Gold Creek. 

To me, farms and ranches are Montana.

To me, farms and ranches are Montana.

It was a great summer.

xo,
TT

The Top 10 Things to Do Near Glacier National Park

We all know that Montana’s Glacier National Park is amazing. It just is. I mean, does it get much better than 1 million acres of glacial-carved terrain, the epic Going-to-the-Sun Road and the feeling you get just being in Glacier National Park? Maybe not. But I’m here to tell you, it gets pretty darn close.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

Around here, a lot of focus gets placed on Glacier National Park (which is completely deserved by the way) but the truth of the matter is that there is more to this corner of Montana than just the Crown of the Continent. And you deserve to know some of the best things to do outside of Glacier National Park, because sharing is caring.

Before I get started on this list, there were two guidelines I followed when pulling it together: 1) All of the items on this list are within 30 minutes of Glacier National Park and 2) I have personally been to them (so I feel really confident recommending them to you).

Without further ado, here is my list of the top 10 things to do near Glacier National Park. 

1. Take a guided horseback trail ride on the Blackfeet Nation. Hands down, this is one of the best activities I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s because the Blackfeet Indian Reservation has a special place in my heart or maybe it’s because Mouse Hall (who I totally adore) leads the crew at Glacier Gateway Outfitters. But to be honest, I think it’s both of those combined with the incredible experience of riding a horse in wide-open country as you climb trails, nearby mountains and learn about the Blackfeet Tribe and their history, all while taking in expansive views along the Rocky Mountain Front.
Storytime: last time I rode with Mouse, my horse’s name was 7up and he was feisty as all get out…which is probably why I loved him. He didn’t like the other horses and got bit by a wasp on our ride down from Baldy Butte and still, the ride was incredible. It was also amazing to see how Mouse handled all of the horses. Each of the horses knew he loved them and in turn, they loved, trusted and respected him. I’ve not seen anything quite like that anywhere else. 

Mouse on top of Baldy Butte.

Mouse on top of Baldy Butte.

2. Visit The Museum of the Plains Indian and Blackfeet Heritage Center in Browning. Hands down, these two places (that just happen to be next door to each other) are my top two places to stop in Browning. The Museum of the Plains Indian has an incredible history of several of the Plains tribes (be sure to watch the video before touring the museum), while the Blackfeet Heritage Center has work from hundreds of American Indian artists on display.
Insider tip: while in Browning, be sure to check out Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post, Lodgepole Gallery & Tipi Village and Western Curios. 

The museum is home to incredible artifacts and displays.

The museum is home to incredible artifacts and displays.

3. Stroll the grounds and sit in the lobby at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier Park. I’ve had a love affair with Glacier Park Lodge for as long as I can remember and it’s a place that I love sharing with other people. Whether you’re staying at the lodge or just passing through, it’s definitely worth a stop. You can read more about Glacier Park Lodge here.

My happy place, Glacier Park Lodge.

My happy place, Glacier Park Lodge.

4. Have dinner at the Izaak Walton Inn. Located halfway between East Glacier Park and West Glacier is Essex and the Izaak Walton Inn. Their on-site restaurant has become one of my favorite places for dinner in the region. Afterward, sit on the patio outside and watch the trains roll past.

Hello, handsome.

Hello, handsome.

5. Cool down at the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center. Situated just down the road from the west entrance of Glacier National Park is the Crown of the Continent Discovery Center. It’s a great place to stop and stretch your legs, learn about the area, cool down with local ice cream, grab a coffee, take a trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters (they have a horse corral out back) and peruse made in Montana items.

The horses of Swan Mountain Outfitters hanging out in the corral.

The horses of Swan Mountain Outfitters hanging out in the corral.

6. Visit Hungry Horse Reservoir, the area’s best-kept secret. While it won’t be a secret anymore (woops a daisy), Hungry Horse Reservoir is a great place to go to get away from the masses. Located a short drive from the town of Hungry Horse, the reservoir and its surrounding area offer fishing, boating, swimming, hiking and camping. Plus, it’s beautiful.

The view of Hungry Horse Reservoir from above.

The view of Hungry Horse Reservoir from above.

7. Taste Montana spirits (and take a tour) at Glacier Distilling Company. Making its home in a red barn in Coram, the Whiskey Barn at Glacier Distillery offers tours and tastings daily from Noon – 8 p.m. during the summer. Plus, they have an outdoor patio where you can kick back, rub shoulders with the locals and taste Montana.

The Whiskey Barn.

The Whiskey Barn.

8. Stroll through Columbia Falls. Truth time: Columbia Falls is one of my favorite towns and is often overlooked as a place to stop. But that, my friends, is changing. This town has some exciting stuff happening and is home to a thriving farmers market (Thursday nights May – September), a brand-new hotel named Cedar Creek Lodge, Backslope Brewing (one of the state’s newest breweries), great dining, a coffee shop and a fly shop. In six words: Columbia Falls is worth a stop.

Confession: Columbia Falls is home to my favorite cafe.

Confession: Columbia Falls is home to my favorite cafe.

9. Drive the North Fork Road to Polebridge. The best adventures are often found along gravel roads and the drive to Polebridge is no exception. The drive will take you along incredible views into Glacier National Park and some beautiful landscapes. Once in Polebridge, be sure to kick back at the Northern Lights Saloon (and grab dinner there) and peruse the Polebridge Mercantile.

I love the Merc!

I love the Merc!

10. Eat a steak at the Babb Bar Cattle Baron Supper Club. Last fall was my first encounter with the Cattle Baron Supper Club in Babb. And it was a great one. If you like steak, this may be the place you have the best steak of your life. Insider tip: order extra bread. It’s homemade and delicious.  

Before dinner in Babb, be sure to drive and take a look at Chief Mountain.

Before dinner in Babb, be sure to drive and take a look at Chief Mountain.

Happy exploring!

xo,
TT

Planning a Trip to Montana this Summer? Join #AskMontanaChat

Are you guys ready for some fun, Montana-lovin’ social media news? Here’s hoping you are, because I’m about to lay it on ya. Later this month, I’m going to be hosting (along with many of my other Montana friends) a twitter chat called #AskMontanaChat

Hi, Rocky Mountain Front.

Hi, Rocky Mountain Front.

In my job, I often get asked questions about the best places to go, the top things to do and see and what areas to explore when people are coming to my favorite place on earth: Montana.

So I got together with a few of my other Montana pals from Fort Peck in the northeast corner of the state to Bozeman in the southwest corner of the state and we decided to host a twitter chat that’s all about Montana and will give travelers to the area (AKA YOU!) the chance to ask and—more importantly—have your travel questions about Montana answered.

Here are the #AskMontanaChat details:#AskMontanaChat GNP
Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Time: 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. MST
Format: The chat will have 4 questions that will be tweeted out from the @GlacierMT twitter account and Montana travel pros from across the state will answer them. In addition, the last half of the chat will be “open mic” style where anyone can ask their travel questions about Montana.
Who will be there: We’ll have a bevy of Montana lovers and tourism pros on the chat, including @Debbie_Picard, @MontanaTia (me!), @GlacierMT, @406_nicole, @ycountry, @missouririvercountry@visitsemontana and @southwestmontana, as well as other local experts.
How to join: Log into twitter on 6/29/16 at 6 p.m. and type #AskMontanaChat into your search bar. From there, the tweets from the chat will pull in. When asking a question, be sure to “tag” your tweet with #AskMontanaChat so local Montana experts can see your tweets and respond to you with information.
Why to join: This is a chance for YOU to ask your travel-related questions to local Montana residents and tourism offices who will give first-person answers to help you plan your trip to Big Sky Country.

Hope to see you on twitter at #AskMontanaChat!

xo,
TT

An Epic Montana Road Trip (AKA My Favorite Kind of Road Trip)

So…I’m sensing a theme in what I’ve been doing lately. Apparently, I’m all about a good road trip. (You can see the proof here, here and oh ya, here.) But honestly, I can’t even blame myself at this point. Instead, I blame Montana’s wide-open spaces, colorful characters and a landscape that seems to be calling my name ALL THE TIME. With that said, it seems appropriate that this week (Friday, May 13 to be exact) I’m setting off on an epic road trip through Western Montana’s Glacier Country

Cruising Montana's roads.

Cruising Montana’s roads.

“What’s so epic about it, Tia?” you ask. Well, I’ll tell you. I’m taking the usual road trip and turning it into a (road trip) party. Because why take a road trip alone when you can take a road trip with 20+ of the most fun, adventurous people you’ve ever met?

This is how much we love Glacier National Park.

This is how much I love road trips and exploring Montana!

This week, I’m welcoming Expedia and their team of viewfinders—as well as some incredible folks from England, Australia, Korea, Mexico, Brazil and Canada—to my corner of Montana where we’ll experience some of the best that Big Sky Country has to offer. And because there’s literally so much to explore, we’re breaking the road trip into three sections, with each leg focusing on a particular offering in Western Montana: urban (Missoula), unplugged (Flathead Lake Lodge) and unexplored (Whitefish and Glacier National Park).

Urban, unplugged and undiscovered.

(Montana) urban, unplugged and undiscovered.

If you want to see what May in Montana is like, follow along to see real-time updates on snapchat (username: GlacierMT), instagram (GlacierMT) and twitter (GlacierMT). And if you want to see way better photos than any of the ones I’ll take, search hashtag #PictureMontana on instagram and twitter to see photos from the rest of our soon-to-be Montana-lovin’ crew.

In the meantime, I want to know one thing: How do YOU #PictureMontana? Comment below and let me know.

xo,
TT

Vote for our 2016 Western Montana Travel Guide Cover

UPDATE: and the travel guide cover winner is…the photo of the mountain goats in Glacier National Park! Thanks to everyone who voted. 2016 Cover Photo Winner

If you read this blog, you may know that my job is to promote Western Montana’s Glacier Country. And for this Montana girl, being able to share my Montana—a place that I love so much—with all of you may be the best job in the world.

I love my job (and Glacier National Park) THIS much.

I love my job (and Glacier National Park) THIS much.

But sometimes it’s hard. But before you feel too sorry for me (or want to tell me, “Man up, Tia!), let me explain. It’s just that sometimes I have to pick favorites. And picking a favorite scene, destination or location in Montana is like making my mama pick her favorite kid (between you and me, I’m fairly certain she’d say me but that’s a risk I’m not willing to take).

Mama Sue with at least one of her favorites.

Mama Sue with at least one of her favorites.

Take right now, for example. The time has come to select a cover image for our annual travel guide. This process started with 100+ photo submissions (you can view them all here) and now there are three images remaining. And, if I’m being honest, they’re all beautiful.

One of these photos will be on the cover of our 2016 travel guide.

One of these photos will be on the cover of our 2016 travel guide.

That, my friends, is where you come in. For the third year in a row, we’ve decided to select the final cover image by a public vote. Dance your fingers on over to http://woobox.com/f32gej, take another look at the images and cast your vote. Because that fact of the matter is this: I want to know which photo resonates with you. Which photo helps best showcase Montana as the magical, beautiful and awe-inspiring destination it is. Voting is open now through December 23, 2015.

Looking forward to seeing which cover you select for the Glacier Country travel guide!

xo,
TT

20 Spring Adventures in Montana’s Glacier Country

Let’s face it: when it comes to seasons of the year in Montana, spring tends to get overlooked. Summer typically takes center stage, while spring serves as her understudy. She studies really hard and is so well-behaved that sometimes we don’t give her the accolades she deserves. To which I say: spring, I see you. And I think you’re awesome.

A gorgeous spring day earlier this week called for a scenic drive.

A gorgeous spring day earlier this week called for a scenic drive.

So without further ado, please meet my friend: spring. In an effort to help us all get better acquainted and to take advantage of one of the best times of year to explore Big Sky Country, I’ve put together a list of 20 spring adventures in Montana’s Glacier Country.

1. Bike in Glacier National Park.
A little known fact: biking in the Crown of the Continent is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Montana. Prior to the Going-to-the-Sun Road opening to vehicular traffic, it’s open for bikers and hikers. Plus with the spring snowmelt, more of the road tends to be open to bikers on both the west and east sides. The Apgar Bike Path is also a fun place to bike, especially if you have small children.
Sidenote: with the arrival of spring, wildlife are active in the park. Be sure to carry bear spray when hiking or biking in Glacier National Park.

Biking on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Biking on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

2. Fish Flathead Lake.
As the largest freshwater lake in the West, it’s probably no surprise that fishing on Flathead Lake is incredible. The lake is home to a variety of fish, including lake trout, whitefish and northern pike. You can go on your own or book a guided fishing trip with a local outfitter.

2. Hike the M in Missoula. 
One of the most popular hiking trails in Montana, this trail starts at the base of Mount Sentinel and works its way up to the M. A total length of .75 miles, the trail has 11 switchbacks, an elevation gain of 620 feet and an incredible view of the Missoula Valley, the Clark Fork River and the Rattlesnake Wilderness Area.

The view from the M. Photo: Chris Mickey

The view from the M. Photo: Chris Mickey

4. Drive the National Bison Range.  
Situated at the base of the Mission Mountains, the National Bison Range is one of the most easily accessible and beautiful adventures in Western Montana. In early spring, visitors can travel along the west loop, while Red Sleep Drive (the 19-mile-long one-way drive that winds through the range) opens in early May. Be sure to keep an eye our for baby bison.
Insider tip: bring your binoculars.

The view along Mission Creek.

The view along Mission Creek.

5. Pan for sapphires + visit a candy store.
Hands down, one of Montana’s most charming small towns is Philipsburg. Home to cute boutiques, a fun brewery and the world-renowned Sweet Palace, it’s also a great place to pan for sapphires. Make plans to visit Gem Mountain or the Sapphire Gallery to try your luck at landing a few Montana gems.

6. Attend the Annual Kyi-Yo Pow-Wow.
Taking place in April at The University of Montana, the Kyi-Yo Pow-Wow brings many of the nation’s American Indians together to dance, sing and share stories, as well as preserve the incredible heritage of our First Nations.

7. Visit Kerr Dam near Polson.
Sitting at 204 feet high, Kerr Dam controls the water flow along the Flathead River. For views of Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains, follow the long boardwalk down to the dam overlook and watch the powerful water coming through the spillway. An added bonus: it’s only a 10-minute drive from downtown Polson.

The view from the boardwalk at Kerr Dam.

The view from the boardwalk at Kerr Dam.

8. First Friday in small town Montana.
Many communities in Western Montana have First Friday celebrations where artists display their work at various galleries and shops around the region. Check out First Friday happenings in Missoula, Stevensville and Hamilton.

9. Take a trail ride in West Glacier. 
Starting in mid-May, Swan Mountain Outfitters offers trail rides from their West Glacier corral.

Time to saddle up.

Located just off Highway 2, the West Glacier corral offers a variety of trail rides.

10. Golf.
With the warm spring temperatures, many of the golf courses in Western Montana open and welcoming players in April. Recommended courses include Buffalo Hills Golf Club in Kalispell, Canyon River Golf Club in Missoula and The Wilderness Club in Eureka.

11. Tour the St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. 
Opening for the season in mid-April, the Historic St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville is an important place in Montana history. Be sure to take a guided tour of the complex and peruse the incredible American Indian photos inside Chief Victor’s cabin.

St. Mary Mission.

St. Mary’s Mission.

12. Stand-up paddleboard (SUP) on the Whitefish River.
Bring your own paddleboard or rent one in Whitefish at Paddlefish Sports.

13. Get ice cream.
When temperatures rise above freezing, it means ice cream time in Montana. My favorite places for locally made ice cream are Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula and Sweet Peaks in Whitefish, Kalispell and Missoula.

My favorite treat: a coconut (coconut ice cream dipper in chocolate and covered in nuts) at Big Dipper.

My favorite treat: a co-co-nuts (coconut ice cream dipped in chocolate and covered in nuts) at Big Dipper.

14. Yell “We Are Sparta” at the Montana Spartan Race. 
Taking place on the shore of Flathead Lake, the Montana Spartan Race is held in early May and consists of two parts: the Spartan Beast and the Spartan Sprint. As for me, I just want an excuse to yell “We are Sparta!”

15. Soak in a natural hot spring.
With comfortable temperatures during the day and cooler nights, spring is ideal for soaking in one of Montana’s many natural hot springs. For a weekend visit, try one of the hot springs in Paradise or the aptly named town of Hot Springs.

Paradise found at Quinn's Hot Springs.

Paradise found at Quinn’s Hot Springs.

16. Stand on the swinging bridge over Kootenai Falls. 
Take the short walk down from Highway 2 and make your way to the swinging bridge. Be sure to take your camera to capture the view of the water tumbling over the falls.

17. Attend Garden City Brewfest. 
Held in early May in Missoula at Caras Park, Garden City Brewfest introduces attendees to a variety of Montana beer. Between sampling beer and dining on local food, you’ll also be able to watch kayakers and surfers at Brennan’s Wave.

18. Go birding at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. 
A  30-minute drive south of Missoula and a few minutes from Stevensville, the Lee Metcalf is a 2,800-acre refuge that’s home to a variety of wildlife and birds. The refuge also has accessible trails and offers gorgeous views of the Bitterroot Mountains.

A spring day at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

A spring day at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

19. Attend the Bigfork Whitewater Festival. 
Watch some of the world’s best kayakers navigate the Class IV whitewater along the Wild Mile of the Swan River at the Bigfork Whitewater Festival. Held over Memorial Day, the festival includes whitewater kayaking races, whitewater rafting races and SUP events.

20. Paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail.
One of my favorite spring activities is to paddle this quiet stretch of the Clearwater River as it winds through a willow marsh before flowing into Seeley Lake. My advice: go in the early morning and watch the sun come up.

Paddling the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

Paddling the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Montana during the spring?

xo,
TT

A Valentine’s Day Love Letter to Montana

You guys, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us. And with its impending arrival, I’ve got to share a few of my feelings with you. You see, I’ve always been a believer in telling people how you feel about them. And while Montana isn’t a person, the big sky state is something that’s been a large part of my 30+ years. It’s a place that makes me feel at peace, lets my soul run free and doesn’t care if my hair is (almost always) messy. It’s here—living, working and playing—under Montana’s big blue sky that I feel like the best version of myself. But instead of just telling you how I feel about Montana, I thought it best to write her a love letter and not only tell, but show the reasons, why I love her.

Dear Montana, you’ve been charming the socks off me lately. Like any good love, you make me fall for you more every year…continually courting me with your perfectly blue skies, snow-capped mountains and stunning sunsets. I just cannot get enough of you.

In the past few weeks, these are the types of Montana moments you’ve been giving me…

The Mission Mountains on a perfectly clear January day.

The Mission Mountains on a perfectly clear January day.

Blue sky in the winter is good for my soul.

Blue sky in the winter is good for my soul.

Twilight over Missoula's Clark Fork River.

Twilight over Missoula’s Clark Fork River.

A backroad near St. Ignatius.

A backroad near St. Ignatius.

A quiet reverence on the waters of Flathead Lake.

A quiet reverence on the waters of Flathead Lake.

One of the most jaw-dropping sunsets I've ever seen.

One of the most jaw-dropping sunsets I’ve ever seen.

And for that, my Montana, I thank you. Thank you for helping me recognize that there is beauty, adventure and peace all around, if I only look.

xo,
TT

PS: If you love someone, tell them. Don’t keep that stuff a secret.

Montana Talent + Sweet Skis

It’s time to put my bragging pants on: I have the pleasure of knowing some great people here in Montana. Folks who are talented, smart, nice and funny. One such person: my friend Collin. Not only is he kind of ridiculously smart, outdoorsy and cool (as in he makes me look like an even bigger nerd than I already am), but he is hands-down one of the nicest gentlemen in the state of Montana.

Collin trail running in Glacier National Park last summer. Photo: Joe Johnson

Collin trail running in Glacier National Park last summer. Photo: Joe Johnson

During the past few years, I’ve gotten to know Collin through mutual friends and he has also helped me out on a few work projects. For example, this last summer I enlisted his help with a photo shoot. Little did he know that this would mean diving into the cold water at Tally Lake 20 times in a row at the crack of dawn. And you know what? He did it without one word of complaining. (Side note: I think he may be part super hero).

An early morning dive session at Tally Lake.

An early morning dive session.

But now onto the real reason I’m bragging on him…

Collin works as a graphic designer at Outside Media in Columbia Falls, a place where he’s able to put his ridiculous talents to work. One of their clients is Montana Ski Company, a company based in Whitefish that makes handmade custom wooden skis. This year, Collin and the crew at OM (as I lovingly refer to them) worked with Montana Ski Company on some one-of-a-kind designs. The best part? The designs drew inspiration from some of Western Montana’s history and culture, with the finished product resulting in incredible Montana-lovin’ skis. 

Take a look…

The inspiration for "The Gunslinger."

The inspiration for “The Gunslinger.”

The gunslinger model can be found in Whitefish at The Toggery.

“The Gunslinger Model” can be found in Whitefish at The Toggery.

The sketch for  "The Canyon Creek."

The sketch for “The Canyon Creek.”

"The Canyon Creek" model can also be found at The Toggery in Whitefish.

“The Canyon Creek” model can also be found at The Toggery in Whitefish.

To read more about Collin and these skis, check out Outside Media’s blog here.

As for me, I can’t wait to see what Collin comes up with next, especially with Western Montana’s Glacier Country as his muse.

xo,
TT

A (Montana) Valentine’s Getaway for Your Love

Well, the holiday that you’ve all been waiting for is (nearly) here: Valentine’s Day! While there is much discussion over the intense love and hate relationship with the holiday itself, this messy-haired girl has always been a fan of it. And while it’s a day that’s commercially deemed for lovers, it’s so much more than that.

Valentine's Day is a day to tell your sunshine you love them.

Valentine’s Day is a day to tell your sunshine you love them.

It’s a day to tell your mama and/or your papa that you love them. It’s a day when you can send your best friend those earrings she’s been eyeing just because you love her! It’s a day when you (meaning me) can take the garbage out so your (meaning my) husband doesn’t have to. It’s a day that’s meant to celebrate love, no matter what and with no strings attached.

This year, as luck would have it, Valentine’s Day is on a Friday. Which means that if you want to, you can basically celebrate it the whole weekend! And for those of you choosing to do so, I’ve rounded up some of my top Valentine’s Day (or Valentine’s Weekend) recommendations in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Whitefish, Montana
Let’s face it: Whitefish is one of the most romantic towns in the West. It has an absolutely charming downtown, wonderful restaurants and cozy accommodations. If you’re looking to “woo” someone, this is the place to do it. Plus, they have a lot of choices when it comes to romantic settings. This girl recommends dinner at The Boat Club at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, Cafe Kandahar at Kandahar Lodge or Tupelo Grille in downtown.

Downtown Whitefish. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Downtown Whitefish. Photo: Donnie Sexton

And as icing on your Valentine’s Day sugar cookie, check out the Romantic Rendezvous Package at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and Montana Romance Package from Good Medicine Lodge.

Glacier National Park
If I was a betting gal, I’d bet that your sugar hasn’t experienced winter in Glacier National Park. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to to introduce him or her to this gorgeous place with an intimate weekend at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier. After a day of snowshoeing or cross-country skiing in the park, settle in for an cozy stay at the historic lodge as part of their Sweetheart Package, complete with dinner and champagne.

Fireside at West Glacier's Belton Chalet.

Fireside at West Glacier’s Belton Chalet.

A Cozy Cabin in the Woods
If you’re looking for a cozy cabin in the woods, check out Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake. Double Arrow has a Valentine’s Package that features a special menu at on-site Season’s Restaurant, as well as champagne upon arrival. Plus, it also happens to be located in one of the most picture perfect settings in Montana.

One of the snowy sun-kissed views from Double Arrow Lodge.

One of the snowy sun-kissed views from Double Arrow Lodge.

Missoula, Montana
I may be partial to this city (since my husband is from here), but Missoula continues to woo me in terms of its dining options and idyllic romantic settings. If I was trying to charm the socks off someone, I’d take them to Missoula’s snow-dusted, historic and cute downtown, before catching live music or grabbing a bite to eat at Red Bird Wine Bar (try the champagne fondue), Biga Pizza (um, hello Flathead cherry pizza) or Plonk. Other personal favorites include Finn & Porter and Mustard Seed (try the chocolate mousse).

Hello, boo.

Hello, boo.

And if you really want to impress your love, book a stay at The Gibson Mansion Bed and Breakfast, specifically with their Romance Package or by adding an in-room massage treatment to your stay.

No matter where you are or who you love, may your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and kindheartedness.

xo,
TT

PS: You can find even more travel deals and coupons here and here.