Tag Archives: Seeley Valley+outdoor

Warren Miller + Montana = A Match Made in Winter Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

Take a look…

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

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

Night skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: WME

Night skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: WME

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

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

Keith Curtis catching air near Seeley Lake. Photo: WME

Keith Curtis riding near Seeley Lake. Photo: WME

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

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

xo,
TT

A Summer Weekend at Placid Lake State Park

I feel like we’re at the point in our relationship where it’s time to introduce you to one of my favorite places that I’ve been kind of keeping a secret. Please meet my love, Placid Lake State Park

A Fourth of July sunset.

A third of July sunset at the lake.

While I’ve mentioned Placid Lake in the past, I haven’t really shared too much about it with you. But it’s time and the truth of the matter is that Placid Lake is—hands down—one of my favorite destinations in Western Montana.

Why? Well, I’ll tell you…
1. It’s just off-the-beaten-path enough that it takes a little more effort to get there.
2. The campground is fantastic (with electric sites for those of you with RVs and campers).
3. The boat launch is easily navigable and you can rent boat slips.
4. They have showers. (And to be honest, the fact that I can take a 3-minute shower while camping for $1 in quarters is what truly converted me to loving this state park the most).
5. It’s a short drive to Seeley Lake.
6. I really, really love state parks.

Here’s a look at a recent weekend at Placid Lake State Park.

Sunset at the lake.

Sunset at the lake.

My favorite spot on the boat.

My favorite spot on the boat.

Purple mountain majesties.

Purple mountain majesties.

A view from the campground.

A view from the campground.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

My buddy Dwain playing on the water.

A perfect day for sailing.

A perfect day for sailing.

Your turn: where’s your favorite place for a weekend away? 

xo,
TT

A Summer Road Trip: Clearwater Junction to Polebridge, Montana

It’s hard to stay in one place during summer in Montana. There’s something about this time of year that makes me want to adventure in, around and through this place I call home. And I have to tell you, this year is no exception and with gorgeous weather, the need to hit the road came earlier than usual. So on one sunshine-filled day this June, my two traveling companions (affectionately known as boo and baby girl) and I loaded up the car and decided to take a road trip north. Our destination: Polebridge, Montana.

Polebridge, Montana.

Polebridge, Montana.

Why did we choose Polebridge for this specific road trip? Well, it’s because neither boo nor baby girl had been there and the three of us decided it was time to change that because Polebridge is a place that everyone should visit during their lifetime.

Often when we travel north through Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we hit Highway 93 and travel along Flathead Lake. But not this time. Instead, we opted to go through one of Montana’s most lovely valleys: the Seeley-Swan on Highway 83. And I have to tell you, it was such a perfect day. The company was fun, the views were beautiful and the drive from the southern end of the Seeley Valley to the northern end of the Swan Valley is one of the prettiest in the state.
Sidenote: you can read more about my love of the Seeley-Swan Valley here

Our travel route for the day.

Our travel route for the day.

On this particular day, we decided to officially start our trip at Clearwater Junction, home to Stoney’s and the most photographed bull in the state.

Good morning, handsome.

Good morning, handsome.

Additional stops in the Seeley-Swan included Salmon Lake, the Clearwater Canoe Trail, Holland Lake and Laughing Horse Lodge (which is now officially on my must-stay list!).

Take a look…

Taking in the view from the shore of Salmon Lake.

Taking in the view from the shore of Salmon Lake.

Gotta love these clear waters.

Gotta love those clear waters.

Hands down, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is my FAVORITE activity in the entire valley.

Hands down, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is my FAVORITE activity in the entire valley.

This valley is home to hundreds of lakes, including Summit Lake which sits just west of Highway 83.

This valley is home to hundreds of lakes, including Summit Lake which sits just west of Highway 83.

This view, with a dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere, called to my heart.

This view, with a dirt road that seemed to lead to nowhere, called to my heart.

A short drive down Holland Lake Road from Highway 83 will take you to Holland Lake.

A short drive down Holland Lake Road from Highway 83 will take you to Holland Lake.

From the trailhead, the hike to Holland Falls in an easy 1.6 miles.

From the trailhead, the hike to Holland Falls in an easy 1.6 miles.

Just one reason to love country roads.

The grounds at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The grounds at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The garden at Laughing Horse Lodge.

The garden at Laughing Horse Lodge.

I could have spent all afternoon here.

I could have spent all afternoon here.

It was my first time stopping at Laughing Horse Lodge and by the time we left, all three of us were ready to just end our trip here.

It was my first time stopping at Laughing Horse Lodge and by the time we left, all three of us were ready to just stop and spend the night here.

Kathleen (the owner of Laughing Horse Lodge) tends the gardens, cooks the dinners (which look amazing) and welcomes guests to her property. Oh, and she's nice. Nice people should never be taken for granted.

Taking advantage of my visit to the garden. Kathleen (the owner of Laughing Horse Lodge) tends the gardens and cooks dinner at her on-site restaurant. Oh, and she’s nice.

After we left the Seeley-Swan Valley, we continued north but not without making a stop for lunch at my favorite Montana cafe: Basecamp Cafe in Columbia Falls.

Note: if you ever want to woo me, just make me tacos with cilantro.

Note: if you ever want to woo me, just make me tacos with cilantro.

After fueling up (and loading up our starving tummies), we continued the drive to one of the wildest and most awesome places in Montana: the North Fork and Polebridge.
Sidenote: all of the electricity in Polebridge is from generators or solar power. 

Baby girl and I donning our new snapbacks from our pal Kevin at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Baby girl and I donning our new snapbacks from our pal Kevin at Flathead Lake Lodge.

There are two routes you can take to the North Fork: 1) you can take the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls to Polebridge and 2) you can go through the west entrance of Glacier National Park and take the Camas Road to North Fork Road. Route #2 cuts some gravel off your drive and gives great views of Lake McDonald.

There are two routes you can take to the North Fork: 1) you can drive the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls to Polebridge and 2) you can go through the west entrance of Glacier National Park and take the Camas Road to North Fork Road. Route #2 cuts some gravel off your drive and gives great views of Lake McDonald.

The famous Polebridge Mercantile.

The famous Polebridge Mercantile, home to huckleberry bearclaws and macaroons.

The Northern Lights Saloon, owned by another sweet gal named Heather, is a great place to stop and get a cold beverage or have dinner.

The Northern Lights Saloon, owned by another sweet gal named Heather, is a great place to stop and get a cold beverage or have dinner.

After spending time in the merc and saloon, we ventured into Glacier National Park and drove to Bowman Lake.

The trail to one of the prettiest places in the park.

The trail to one of the prettiest places in the park.

Bowman Lake.

Bowman Lake.

Boo, myself and baby girl at Bowman Lake.

Boo, myself and baby girl at Bowman Lake.

My only question is this: where are we off to next?

xo,
TT

A Family Weekend at Placid Lake State Park

It’s probably no surprise that I love my family. Over the last five years, I’ve shared some of my favorite family memories with you on the blog. Side note: You can read about last year’s family reunion in Glacier National Park here and a wonderful week in Whitefish here.

Well, I have another story to tell you. This past weekend we gathered 44 members of the Allen clan and headed to Placid Lake State Park for a family reunion. We had a wonderful, almost perfect weekend at one of the most beautiful places in the Seeley-Swan Valley.

Here’s a look at how the Allen clan renewed our family bond under Montana’s big blue sky…

Two fishing boys + their aunt.

Two fishing boys + their aunt.

Baby + grandpa bonding.

Baby + grandpa bonding.

Q: How many cousins can you fit on one tube? A: Four.

Q: How many cousins can you fit on one tube?   A: Four.

A bevy of blond cousins.

A bevy of blond cousins.

The weekend festivities also included a Dutch oven cook-off. There may have been "some" trash talking involved.

The weekend festivities also included a Dutch oven cook-off. PS: This family takes competitions very seriously.

One of the most gorgeous sunsets of the summer.

One of the most gorgeous sunsets of the summer.

My uncle modeling all of his reunion paraphernalia.

My uncle modeling all of his reunion paraphernalia.

I heart Montana.

Two things I love: Montana and family.

It was a great weekend and I already can’t wait for next year.

Your turn: Where’s YOUR favorite place to vacation with your family?

xo,
TT

Playing in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

*Earlier this month, five friends made the trek to Western Montana to explore the region with me. In our seven days together, we had numerous adventures. So many in fact, that I’m breaking the trip up into multiple blog posts. Read about the first leg of our journey here

After our quick day and a half in Missoula, we loaded up and started making our way north. Our destination: Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley.

Nestled between the Mission Mountain Range and the Swan Mountains, the Seeley-Swan Valley is a little piece of paradise. The valley itself is home to a few small towns (including Seeley Lake, Condon and Swan Lake) and ridiculous amounts of outdoor recreation.

One of my favorite things to do in the area is paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail, located just outside of Seeley Lake. The trail starts a few miles north of town and meanders its way through a dense willow marsh before entering the north end of the lake. On the morning we paddled it, we were the only ones on the trail. It was just the six of us, three canoes and plenty of sunshine.

To sum it up: it was pure perfection.
Insider tip: If you want the trail to yourself, plan to go in the early morning. During the summer, it has a tendency to get crowded by late morning/early afternoon. 

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

Jade and Spencer taking in the view.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

My paddling partner, Kristin.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

One of the most peaceful ways to spend a morning.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

At the take out for the Clearwater Canoe Trail.

After getting our paddle on, we continued north on Highway 83. As with any good road trip, it’s imperative to get off the main road and take the road less traveled. Which means we took a little detour over to Holland Lake for lunch…and some stretching.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Holland Lake. If you look closely, you can see Holland Falls across the lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Kristin practicing yoga on the shore of Holland Lake.

Our last stop of the day was an afternoon trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters, located just south of Swan Lake. I’ve been on quite a few group trail rides and I have to say that hands down, this was my all-time favorite ride. The wranglers were skilled, the horses were lovely and the views were stunning.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was (appropriately) paired with Jumbo.

As the tallest in our group, Spencer was paired with the biggest horse I’ve ever seen, appropriately named Jumbo.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

The beginning part of the ride took us through forested terrain.

My favorite view.

My favorite view.

It was the perfect day. I’ve just got one question: When are we going back?

xo,
TT

An Escape to Montana Island Lodge

Every once in a while, this messy-haired girl feels the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And because I’m not one to ignore a hankering, earlier this week a group of my girlfriends decided to bust a move out of the city and make our way to a little piece of paradise only 45 minutes from Missoula: Montana Island Lodge.

Located on an island in the middle of Salmon Lake, Montana Island Lodge is quite a sight to see. Best described as a massive log cabin, the lodge has 11 rooms, cozy fireplaces, a hot tub, a great room and gorgeous views of the surrounding lake and forest. During the summer months, the lodge is accessible via boat while in the winter visitors make their way across the solidly frozen ice via an ATV. 

Hello, you island oasis.

Hello, you Montana island oasis.

After a scenic and gab-filled drive from Missoula, our giggling gaggle of girls made our way over to Montana Island Lodge where we spent the first 30 minutes exploring every room, nook and cranny of this gorgeous place.

Here’s a look at this Montana paradise…

Making our way over to the lodge on an ATV.

Making our way over to the lodge on an ATV.

If I go missing, it's probably best to look for me here.

If I go missing, it’s probably best to look for me here.

Question: How many ladies can you fit into the massive Jacuzzi tub? Answer: Six.

Question: How many ladies can you fit into a massive Jacuzzi tub? Answer: Six.

One of the sitting rooms in the second floor suite.

A sitting room in the second floor suite.

The great room.

The great room.

The bar in the great room had a (literal) never-ending supply of treats.

The bar in the great room had a (literal) never-ending supply of treats.

The view from my room.

The view from my room.

Kicking back in the great room.

Kicking back in the great room.

Rounding out the night with a soak in the hot tub.

Rounding out the night with a soak in the hot tub.

After a delightful stay, along with mouth-watering food and stellar treatment from the Montana Island Lodge staff, the only thing I’m wondering is this: When are we going back?

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.

Winter in Montana

It’s official. Winter has fully arrived. And I must say, it has done so with a bang….of snow. During the early season, snow fell in our upper elevations and laid down a strong base (like the strongest in years!) for the winter recreation season. Well played, Old Man Winter.

So far, Western Montana has been covered with inches of snow (all of our six ski areas started off with summit depths that ranged from 38 inches to 52 inches), crystal clear blue skies and at least one blond girl resisting the urge to drop into every untouched field of snow to create snow angels.

Here’s a recap of winter in Western Montana so far…

Taking in the early season snowfall.

Taking in the early season snowfall.

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park.

The view from Apgar Lookout, Glacier National Park.

The view from Apgar Lookout, Glacier National Park.

The view of the summit at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The view of the summit at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Downtown Missoula.

Winter has arrived in downtown Missoula.

Montana is a winter wonderland.

Montana is a winter wonderland.

If I'm missing, it's because I'm snuggled up in one of these cabins at Double Arrow Lodge.

If I’m missing, it’s because I’m snuggled up in one of these cabins at Double Arrow Lodge.

Raise your hand if you fancy gliding across snow-filled meadows. (My hand is raised).

Raise your hand if you fancy gliding across snow-filled meadows.

Happy, happy winter.
TT

PS: Love the above webcam images? Stay up-to-date on Western Montana’s winter wonderland by checking out the webcams at Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort.

I’m in Love with a Montana State Park

Listen you guys, I have to come clean with you. I’m in love…with a Montana State Park. While I know it may be silly to love something like a state park, I literally cannot help myself.

You see, in honor of the Fourth of July, we decided it was imperative to get out of town and escape to a heavenly place called “the lake.” While there are many lakes to choose from throughout Western Montana’s Glacier Country, we settled on one fairly close to home and headed for Placid Lake State Park in Montana’s Seeley Valley. And it’s there that I fell in love. While Montana is home to 54 state parks (with each being lovely in its own right), I fell hard for Placid Lake.

Sunset at Placid Lake.

How can you not fall in love with a state park that has a sunset like this? 


Why?

Well I’ll tell ya.

-It’s literally 45 minutes from Placid Lake to my front door.
-The staff was SO nice. And not in a “we-better-be-nice-because-it’s-our-job” kind of a way. No way, folks. It was a “we-are-genuinely-nice-and-want-you-to-enjoy-this-beautiful-place” kind of niceness.
-They have three different loops for camping and while our park host thought we got a “bad spot” and felt a little sorry for us, we loved it! The lesson: there are no “bad camping spots” at Placid Lake.
-If you’re not into tent camping, not a worry. There are RV hookups and electricity at some of the sites.
-Placid Lake State Park has a boat launch, boat slips and boat trailer parking. Love.

Placid Lake is the perfect lake for tubing with your baby sister.

Placid Lake is the perfect lake for tubing with your baby sister.

-They have bathrooms with showers. $1 for three minutes? Don’t mind if I do.
-Placid Lake State Park is about a 10 minute drive to Seeley Lake, so if you run out of supplies it’s super easy to pop into town and pick more up.

Hauling tubes, Montana style.

Hauling tubes, Montana style.

Placid Lake, you have won my heart. Let’s stay in love forever, okay?

xo,
TT

PS: If you’re interesting in camping at Placid Lake State Park, you can reserve sites nine months in advance online.

Be a Winter Warrior (and win cool stuff)

We’re saying it: Happy winter! While the first official day of winter isn’t until December 21, around these parts we get pumped for winter early. How pumped, you ask? Very pumped.

In fact, this year we’re so excited about winter that we’re celebrating it and spreading the good word about winter in Montana with our Winter Warrior campaign.

Catching air at Lookout Pass last February. (Photo by Glacier Country Tourism)

As part of the campaign, we’re encouraging folks near and far to sign up to become a Winter Warrior and to learn more about their favorite winter-geared activity of choice in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

The best part, besides finding out all the info you need to shred, sled and play in Western Montana this winter, is that after you sign up you’re automatically entered into our weekly giveaways.  And boy howdy, we’ve got some good swag to give away!

Here’s a list of the goodness we’re giving away every week, all winter long. Drumroll, please…

Now that you’ve made it through this list (pretty sweet stuff, right?), be sure to head over and sign up to become a Winter Warrior.  After all, winter is rad.

And winter in Montana? Well, it’s even radder.

Bonus: When you order your Winter Warrior packet, we’ll send you one of these cool stickers.

Happy shredding,
TT