Tag Archives: Spring

Hello Glacier National Park (AKA for the Love, How is this Real Life)

Confession time: sometimes I wonder out loud to myself, “Is this real life?” Because you guys, I have to tell you that there are days where I legitimately wonder how in the world I’m in this exact spot at this exact moment to be able to experience this life.

This is my "REALLY LIFE?!" face. Or it's my "Don't cry because life really can be this good face." You decide.

This is my “REALLY LIFE?!” face. Or it’s my “I cannot believe this beautiful life” face. You decide. PS: sorry for this giant photo of me that’s currently staring you down from your computer/iPad/phone screen. 

Take for example, a recent afternoon spent in Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

The view of our destination: Glacier National Park.

I was traveling with a group of friends and we had a few free hours to explore the Crown of the Continent. Since it was the first trip to Montana and Glacier Park for most of them, we did what any group should do: we took a red bus tour and boat tour.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

Our chariot AKA one of the historic red buses that provide tours in Glacier National Park.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I'm currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

A required photo stop: the west entrance into Glacier National Park. PS: I’m currently obsessed with these shirts from Montana Shirt Company.

After stopping to take in one of the best views in the world (Lake McDonald from Apgar Village), our red bus driver Glenn took us along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Lake McDonald Lodge for a guided boat tour with Glacier Park Boat Company on the DeSmet—a historic wooden boat that calls the waters of Lake McDonald home. And for 45 blissful minutes we cruised the waters of the park while taking in snow-capped mountain peaks and learned about the history of the boat company and this region of the park from the boat’s captain.

This view never gets old.

This view never gets old.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

Getting ready to board the DeSmet.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

See ya soon, Lake McDonald Lodge.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

Pro tip: if given the chance, always take a photo with a park ranger.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

This little lady is one of my favorite travel buddies.

I'll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

I’ll cruise with you any day, DeSmet.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Showing our love for Glacier National Park.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana’s Glacier National Park

You guys, I have to tell you something: riding Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road on a bike is one of the best things you could ever do.

Hello, you gorgeous thing.

Hello, you gorgeous thing.

Sure, parts of it are hard (at least it’s hard if your name starts with a T and ends with an -ia) and yes, you may wonder how in the world your legs can and will keep pedaling uphill as you slowly make the elevation climb from the valley floor toward the tunnel and up to the loop but I’m here—alive and well—to tell you that those things are well worth the experience of biking in one of the most beautiful places in the world—Glacier National Park.
Sidenote: while parts of this road may be difficult if you don’t bike regularly, it is totally doable and quite literally one of the best things I’ve ever personally done. 

A bit of backstory: in mid-May, I grabbed three new friends who were here exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country and we headed for Glacier National Park with one mission and one mission only: to pedal our bikes up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

You and me, baby. (And yes, apparently the bike is now my baby.)

You and me, baby. (And yes, apparently the bike is now my baby.)

And pedal we did. To sum it up in three words: it was awesome.

Here’s the other thing: I had done this before, back in the days of yesteryear, and I drive this road regularly. But there is nothing that compares to biking the road in spring when it’s just you, your bike and your riding companions making your way up the road before Glacier National Park opens it to vehicular traffic.

Take a look…

This view, and moment, is one I won't soon forget.

This view, and moment, is one I won’t soon forget.

Low-hanging clouds made this day even more magical.

Low-hanging clouds made the day even more magical.

Stopping for a moment to record this moment with friends. PS: don't mind the line on my forehead. The "one size fits all" helmets don't apply to this big-headed girl.

Stopping to record this moment with friends. PS: don’t mind the line on my forehead. The “one size fits all” helmets don’t apply to this big-headed girl. The good news? My head was very safe. 

This view during spring can only be seen by hikers and bikers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This view during spring can only be seen by hikers and bikers on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

For this Montana-lovin' girl, this is perfection.

For this Montana-lovin’ girl, this is perfection.

Heading back down the road through the tunnel.

Heading back down the road through the tunnel.

I had to stop time and time again to soak this experience in.

I had to stop time and time again to soak in this experience. 

Wind-swept hair + watery eyes ironically equal my perfect May day in Montana.

Wind-swept hair + watery eyes ironically equal my perfect May day in Montana.

If you want to bike in Glacier National Park, here are a few things to note:
-You can bring your own bike or rent one. If you’re renting, I recommend picking up a rental bike at Great Northern Cycle & Ski in Whitefish. While their whole team is fantastic (special shout out to Craig and Stella!), Willy gave our group incredible service and detailed explanations about our bikes when we picked them up.
-Plan to ride in spring before the road is open to car traffic.
-Take advantage of the brand new and free bike shuttle service. The biker shuttle runs daily from Apgar and Lake McDonald Lodge to Avalanche Creek now through June 26, 2016 or when the Going-to-the-Sun Road opens to vehicular traffic, whichever comes first.

xo,
TT

Insider Scoop: The Best Spring Travel Deals in Montana

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: spring is one of the best times to visit Western Montana’s Glacier Country. During this time of year, the weather is actually pretty nice, there are tons of baby animals and—the granddaddy of them all—there’s basically no one here.
Sidenote: I do need to warn you that Montana’s weather has a flair for the dramatic (no wonder we get along so well) and in spring it can go from snowing to 70 degrees in a few hours. But I always say our weather is just part of our charm. 

A spring view from Montana's National Bison Range.

A spring view from Montana’s National Bison Range.

And truth be told, spring is one of the most awesome seasons for exploring and playing under Montana’s big blue sky and in Glacier National Park. So as a lover of spring—and all things Montana—I’ve rounded up some of the best travel deals in #GlacierMT for spring 2016.
PS: if you book one of these and come to Montana, be sure to tweet us at @GlacierMT. We can tell you all the best places to eat and kick up your heels, Montana style. Don’t believe us? Check out THIS list

Without further ado, meet my top 5 picks for Montana travel deals for spring 2016.

1. 20% off June 2016 at Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge. Located on the west shore of Flathead Lake, family-owned Flathead Lake Lodge is offering 20 percent off all stays in June. Reasons I love Flathead Lake Lodge: family-style dining in their main lodge, kids can run free (and still be safe), incredibly nice horses and genuine, true Montana hospitality.

Spring at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Spring at Flathead Lake Lodge.

2. Spring into Glacier at the Belton Chalet. Located just outside the west entrance to Glacier National Park, the Belton Chalet has a “Spring into Glacier” travel deal that includes a one-night stay and dinner at the on-site Belton Grill for $180 per couple. Why I love this deal: the Belton Chalet has an incredible history, cozy lodge rooms and I’m a BIG fan of Chef Melissa’s cooking. An added bonus: Glacier National Park is one minute away.

A bird's-eye view of the peaks of Glacier National Park in spring.

A bird’s-eye view of the peaks of Glacier National Park in spring.

3. Glacier Spring Special at Glacier Guides. Just up the road from Highway 2 in West Glacier, Glacier Guides Lodge is offering spring rates on lodge rooms in their eco-friendly lodge for $166.79 from mid-May through mid-June. Reasons I love Glacier Guides Lodge: continental breakfast is included, they have Wi-Fi and they’re two minutes away from Glacier National Park.

Oh hello, Glacier National Park.

Oh hello, Glacier National Park.

4. Pet-friendly Spring Getaway at Laughing Horse Lodge. Situated in Montana’s Swan Valley, the Laughing Horse Lodge has a “We’re Going to the Dogs Spring Getaway” deal on stays from Wednesdays – Sundays from early May to late June that includes a two-night stay, hot breakfasts and gourmet dinners. Reasons I love this package: Laughing Horse Lodge is so cozy, their meals are tasty and their setting is within easy reach of great outdoor recreation in the Swan Valley.

Holland Lake is an easy drive from Laughing Horse Lodge.

Holland Lake is an easy drive from Laughing Horse Lodge.

5. 20% off two-night stays at Meadow Lake Resort. Located in one of the area’s prettiest settings, Meadow Lake Resort has a 20 percent discount on stays that are two nights or more from now through mid-May. Why I love this package: their spa-like lodge rooms are my favorite, the lodge is located minutes from Whitefish and Columbia Falls and I love their outdoor fireplace.

Hello, gorgeous.

Hello, gorgeous.

You can also peruse more Montana spring travel deals here. Happy traveling!

xo,
TT

PS: You can also read more spring travel tales in Montana here, here and here.

A Montana Road Trip: Polson to Whitefish

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Montana is beautiful during late winter and early spring. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I took a road trip from Missoula to Polson (you can read more about that—and see photos from that stunning drive—here) on a picture-perfect day? Well, the truth of the matter is that I kept on going and the second half of that day took me from Polson to Whitefish. And it, my friends, was beautiful. Here’s a look at the views from Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Hello, Flathead Lake.

Hello, Flathead Lake.

Polson, Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains.

Polson, Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains.

The view from Dayton, on the west shore of Flathead Lake.

The view from Dayton, on the west shore of Flathead Lake.

The clouds that day were incredible.

The clouds that day were incredible.

When traveling through Montana, you're more than likely to encounter several barns along the way. In a way, they almost become part of the landscape while still having their own stories to tell.

When traveling through Montana, chances are you’re going to come across one of the state’s barns. My advice? Stop and take in the view. 

The final stop: the outdoor fire pit at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

The final stop: the outdoor fire pit at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake.

It was a good day.

xo,
TT

A Montana Day Trip: Missoula to Polson

Yesterday was one for the record books in Big Sky Country. While it’s early March here in Montana’s Glacier Country, it was one of the most stunning days I’ve spent exploring in a long time.

A spring-like peek at The Wilma in downtown Missoula.

A spring-like peek at The Wilma in downtown Missoula.

Because it was such a beautiful day, a girlfriend and I hit the road from Missoula to Polson. While this 70-mile-long road trip typically takes just over an hour, it took us THREE HOURS. And to be honest, it was worth every minute. Here’s a peek at the scenery that made us slow down, pull over and take in this incredible place that we call Montana.

Our first stop: Z5 Guest Ranch in Arlee.

Our first stop: Z5 Guest Ranch in Arlee.

Stop two: this view of the Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill.

Stop two: this view of the Mission Mountains from the top of Ravalli Hill.

Up next: my favorite dining room view in all of Montana at Ninepipes Lodge.

Up next: my favorite dining room view in all of Montana at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Hello, Ninepipes Wildlife Refuge.

Hello, Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge.

Pro Montana tip: if you see a backroad, take it.

Pro tip: if you see a backroad, take it.

A sure sign of spring in Montana: baby cows (also known as calves).

A sure sign of spring in Montana: baby cows (also known as calves).

Q: Am I the only one who wants to know what this barn has seen? A: _______

Question: Am I the only one who wants to know what this barn has seen?

The final stop: Polson and the view of Flathead Lake.

The final stop: Polson and this view of Flathead Lake.

Needless to say, it was a good day.

xo,
TT

#PictureMontana + Celebrate America’s Best Idea: National Parks

For those of you keeping score, I’m sure that by now you know that I LOVE Montana. It’s just that this place that I call home has such a special spot in my heart and I can’t image loving anywhere quite as much as I love Montana’s big blue sky, dramatic temperatures, salt-of-the-earth residents and magical moments. It’s safe to say that I’m totally obsessed and love sharing my Montana with all of you!

Taking in the view of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Photo: Mills Wilderness Adventures

Taking in the view of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Photo: Mills Wilderness Adventures

And, because I’m a lover (and not a fighter) of Montana and Glacier National Park, I’m really excited to be celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service this year. In fact, I’m so excited about the 100 year anniversary that I got together with some folks who love our national parks almost as much as me (just kidding: I think we’re currently tied in our love for the parks) to really kick off this summer in style. My partners in Montana-lovin’ crime: Expedia.

My pals over at Expedia love national parks so much that they’ve actually partnered with Brand USA to sponsor the movie National Parks Adventure, made by filmmaker Greg MacGillivray and narrated by Robert Redford. Sidenote: swoon. And the best news: the movie premieres February 12, 2016 and is (most likely) coming to a theater near you soon.

And while I’m excited about the movie (word on the street is that my boo Glacier National Park makes a cameo in the film), I’m really excited for what else Expedia is doing: they’re sending their team of viewfinders to the top 10 national parks in the United States. Um, pretty awesome right?

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon national parks. Photo: NPS flickr

Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Grand Canyon national parks. Photo: NPS flickr

But you know what’s even more awesome? Expedia is bringing their entire Viewfinder team to Montana this May and will be exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country on an epic #PictureMontana road trip. And y’all are invited to come along!

This girl is THIS excited for #PictureMontana!

This girl is THIS excited for #PictureMontana!

Starting May 13 and ending May 20, we’ll be hitting the road (and if you can believe, it, I get to road trip with them!) and exploring this corner of Montana with highlights that include Missoula, the Mission Mountains, Flathead Lake, Whitefish and Glacier National Park. Simply follow the hashtags #PictureMontana and #GlacierMT on instagram and twitter during the third week in May for a peek into Western Montana.

A few other things to note:
-Passion Passport and Expedia are giving away a trip to Glacier National Park!
-Mark your calendars and catch a showing of National Parks Adventure when it comes to an IMAX theater near you. PS: Montana, it’s playing in West Yellowstone on May 1.
-For more information about #PictureMontana, be sure to follow us at @GlacierMT on instagram and twitter and connect with us on facebook here.
-Join the celebration of our country’s national parks by using #FindYourPark to share your memories or favorite moments in national parks on social media.
-Join us on May 18, 2016, in West Glacier for a “Happy Birthday, National Park Service” party. We’ll be sure to share more details as we finalize party plans.

Looking forward to exploring Montana and celebrating our national parks with all of you!

xo,
TT

Exploring the Spaces Between the Places: West Glacier to East Glacier Park, Montana

There are certain travel corridors in Montana that I’m obsessed with: Highway 200,  the Seeley-Swan Valley and Highway 2  near Glacier National Park. And after last week’s adventure along a backcountry road (you can read more about that here), my traveling companies and I continued our spring road trip and headed toward a place that this messy-haired girl loves and adores like it’s a member of the family: Glacier National Park

The view of Many Glacier from Glacier National Park's webcam.

The view of Many Glacier from Glacier National Park’s webcam.

We planned to start our trip in West Glacier and end it in East Glacier Park. But this wasn’t just going to be simple drive from west to east. You see, that’s just not our style. On this trip, we also wanted to soak up the beauty and experiences on the Blackfeet Nation. Sidenote: if you’re not familiar, the Blackfeet Nation is the largest Indian reservation in Montana and is home to the Blackfeet Tribe.

As we had a full travel day, we opted to stay overnight in West Glacier at the Glacier Outdoor Center in one of their cabins. And, happily enough, this is the view we woke up to.

Good morning, mountain peaks in Glacier National Park.

Good morning, mountain peaks in Glacier National Park.

After soaking in the quiet stillness in West Glacier, we continued east to have breakfast at one of my other favorite spots: the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. (You can read more about my love for the Izaak here).  

When in doubt, order huckleberry pancakes.

When in doubt, order huckleberry pancakes.

Izaak Walton Inn

The view of the train tracks from Izaak Walton Inn.

If you follow me on instagram (@MontanaTia), then you will know I had to get a shoe shot in the lobby.

If you follow me on instagram (@MontanaTia), then you will know I had to get a shoe shot in the lobby.

After filling our tummies to the brim, we loaded up our rig and headed to East Glacier Park and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to meet up with our friend Alger Swingley for a day of sightseeing in and around Glacier National Park.

Here’s a look into our rain-filled, misty, beautiful and magical day exploring Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation.

One of the viewpoints on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

One of the viewpoints on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation.

Standing on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier.

Standing on the shore of Swiftcurrent Lake in Many Glacier.

One of the many gorgeous views in Many Glacier.

One of the many gorgeous views in Many Glacier.

Soaking up every moment.

Soaking up every moment.

This was one (of two!) moose we saw in Many Glacier.

This was one (of two!) moose we saw in Many Glacier.

This grizzly slowly meandered across the road behind us.

This grizzly slowly meandered across the road behind us.

The new interpretive overlook near St. Mary.

The new interpretive overlook near St. Mary.

Our accommodations: The StoneHouse at Duck Lake.

Our accommodations: The StoneHouse at Duck Lake.

These Blackfeet warriors can be found at the four entry points onto the Blackfeet Nation.

These Blackfeet warriors can be found at the four entry points onto the Blackfeet Nation.

We ended our day with tasty Mexican food at Serrano's in East Glacier Park.

We ended our day with tasty Mexican food at Serrano’s in East Glacier Park.

While I’ve lived in Montana my whole life, there’s something incredibly special about this corner of Big Sky Country. Maybe it has to do with the wind-swept prairies running into the rapidly rising peaks of the Rocky Mountains or maybe it’s the feeling of home I get when visiting Blackfeet Country and the east side of Glacier National Park. Whatever it is, I’m grateful for it.

And if you plan on visiting Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation this spring (or summer), here’s what I’d recommend…

Where to stay: There are lots of really lovely places to stay around Glacier National Park. I’d recommend The Stonehouse at Duck Lake (perfect for a getaway with friends), Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Browning (ideal for a family friendly stay – they’re open year-round and have a waterslide), St. Mary Lodge & Resort in St. Mary and Travelers Rest Lodge in East Glacier Park.

What to do: For a great tour on the Blackfeet Nation, book a guided jeep tour, rafting trip or fishing trip with Blackfeet Outfitters. Other recommendations: visit the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, make the short hike to Running Eagles Falls in Two Medicine and take a boat tour with Glacier Park Boats in Two Medicine, St. Mary and Many Glacier.

Where to eat: Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant in East Glacier Park (open daily at 5 p.m.), Johnson’s of St. Mary (their family style fried chicken meal on Sundays is the best) and Bison Creek Guest Ranch in East Glacier Park. Also, be sure to stop at the Rock and Roll Bakery in East Glacier Park (across the street from Serrano’s) for a huckleberry-filled grizzly roll…trust me on this one.

xo,
TT

Snapshots of Spring in Montana’s Glacier Country

This year, spring in Montana has pulled out all the stops and is absolutely gorgeous. But instead of taking my word for it, I’d rather show you just how beautiful it’s been. Here’s a glimpse into what the last several weeks have offered in Western Montana from a few local Montanans on instagram.

A bison at the National Bison Range.

A bison at the National Bison Range.

Fish Creek Road in Mineral County.

Fish Creek Road in Mineral County.

The view overlooking I-90 near Alberton.

The view overlooking I-90 near Alberton.

The Mission Mountains in spring.

The Mission Mountains in spring.

Early morning sunrise at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Early morning sunrise at Ninepipes Lodge in Charlo.

Sunset near Garrison Junction.

Sunset near Garrison Junction.

Riding horseback outside Kalispell.

Riding horseback outside Kalispell.

Happy, happy spring!

xo,
TT

PS: If you want to come play in Montana, check out my top picks for spring here.

23 Things to Do This Spring Under Montana’s Big Blue Sky

I’m just gonna say it: spring in Montana is absolutely gorgeous! Literally, I cannot get enough of our longer daylight hours, bluebird skies, evening rain storms and the fresh, fragrant air that comes with the arrival of this time of year.

Hello, Mission Mountains.

Hello, Mission Mountains.

Chances are, you’ve read the current list of 20 spring adventures in Western Montana’s Glacier Country (you can read more about those here) that included biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park and soaking in natural hot springs.

But I’ve got to tell you…that list was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to spring fun in Montana. And as there are so many more things to do and see when visiting Montana, I’ve put together a list of 23 things to do this spring in Big Sky Country, from Fort Peck in Montana’s northeast corner to Yellowstone National Park.

1. Watch wildlife in Montana’s Yellowstone National Park.
With spring comes the arrival of lots of babies in the park, including baby bison (also know as red dogs) and bear cubs. An important note to remember: mamas are very protective of their babies. Keep your distance when viewing wildlife and remember to bring a pair of binoculars with you so you can have up-close views from a safe distance. Read more tips and rules on wildlife viewing in Yellowstone National Park here.

A grizzly sow and her yearling walk along the boardwalk in Upper Geyser Basin. Photo courtesy of YNP.

A grizzly sow and her yearling walk along the boardwalk in Upper Geyser Basin. Photo courtesy of YNP flickr.

2. Tour Lewis and Clark Caverns. 
A visit to Lewis and Clark Caverns (between Whitehall and Three Forks) is the perfect spring adventure. When I was a little messy-haired blond missing my two front teeth (totally not exaggerating – I lost one and knocked the other one out with my wild shenanigans), my class took a field trip to the caverns and I still remember how awe-struck I was as we admired the stalactites and cruised down the beaver slide. The park itself is open year-round, while guided tours in the caverns start May 1.

3. Run the “Longest Dam Race” in Fort Peck. 
Run (or walk or bike) across the largest hydraulic built dam in the world at the Longest Dam Race on June 18, 2016 in Fort Peck, Montana. You can choose between a 10K, 5K or one-mile walk. An added bonus: you’ll be able to say “I ran the longest dam race in the world” and you’ll be telling the truth.

The spillway at Fort Peck Dam.

The spillway at Fort Peck Dam.

4. Visit one of Montana’s best-kept secrets: the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area.
Located in both Montana and Wyoming, the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area is home to 71-mile-long Bighorn Lake. Watched over by 1,000-foot tall cliffs, Bighorn Lake is ideal for boating, water skiing, fishing and laid-back fun. The Bighorn River is also one of the best fly-fishing rivers in the state.

Crusing

Cruising on Bighorn Lake.

5. Visit the Polebridge Mercantile.
Located in Montana’s North Fork and just outside of Glacier National Park is the small town of Polebridge, home to the historic Polebridge Mercantile. Take the North Fork Road from Columbia Falls to the mercantile to pick up bear claws and huckleberry macaroons.

I can practically smell the bear claws.

My personal favorites: huckleberry macaroons.

6. Visit Milk River Observation Point.
For a heart-pumping excursion and to breathe in northeast Montana’s fresh air, take a hike up to the Milk River Observation Point, located east of the Fort Peck Dam Spillway. Lewis and Clark history buffs are well-advised to visit this location, as it’s the very place the duo named the Milk River.

7. Bike in Yellowstone National Park. 
From now until late April, many of the roads in Yellowstone National Park are open for non-motorized traffic and are prime for spring biking. One of the most popular routes is the 28-mile round-trip ride between West Yellowstone and Madison Junction. Keep your eyes open for wildlife and be sure that you give the plenty of room.

Bikers on the west entrance road in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of YNP.

Bikers on the west entrance road in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of YNP flickr.

8. Tour the richest hill on earth—Butte, Montana. 
Hands down, Butte has one of the most interesting histories in Montana. Learn more about this mining boom town on an Old Butte Historic Walking Tour as you walk down alleys, through buildings and even venture underground to its once-hopping speakeasies.

9. Greening up in the badlands.
Truth time: eastern Montana is stunning! It’s a totally different landscape from the western side of the state, but has an other-worldly beauty. Two places to visit: the Terry Badlands and Makoshika State Park. Makoshika is Montana’s largest state park and is a fantastic place to learn about the dinosaurs that once lived here. Plus, the park’s hiking trails are awesome.

Overlooking the badlands at Makoshika State Park.

Overlooking the badlands at Makoshika State Park.

10. Ride the free river ferries. 
Fun fact: the Mighty Missouri River in Central Montana has three cable-operated ferries that take vehicles across the river. Hitting the water in April, the ferries cart locals and visitors alike (and their cars) back and forth across the river until early October. Catch a ferry in Carter, Virgelle and north of Winifred.

The Virgelle Ferry.

The Virgelle Ferry.

11. Ride the Route of the Hiawatha. 
Opening for the season on May 28, 2016, the Route of the Hiawatha takes bikers through 10 tunnels and across seven high steel trestles in the heart of the Bitterroot Mountains between Montana and Idaho.

12. See a life-sized Tyrannosaurus Rex. 
First things first, this is my five-year-old nephew’s (he doesn’t introduce himself as McCann the Dinosaur Man for nothing) dream come true. Located in northeast Montana, the Fort Peck Interpretive Center is home to two giant aquariums, as well as a life-size model of Peck’s Rex—a T-Rex skeleton that was discovered 20 miles southeast of Fort Peck in 1997.

Peck's Rex.

Peck’s Rex.

13. Drive the Beartooth Highway.
The Beartooth Highway is one of the most scenic drives in Montana and Wyoming. A couple of years ago, I made my maiden voyage over the road (you can read more about it here) and it was one of my favorite memories from 2014.

Hello you stunner!

Hello you stunner!

14. Cowboy up at the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.
Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale (held May 19 – 22, 2016) is one of Montana’s most fun and perfectly rowdy events. On the roster for this year’s world-famous festivities: bronc and bareback riding, a concert, bull riding, a street dance and a parade.

Miles City Bucking Horse Sale.

Ride ’em, cowboy!

15. Tour Tizer Gardens.
As Montana’s only fully certified botanical garden and arboretum, Jefferson City’s Tizer Gardens is home to thousands of plants, shrubs and trees. Be sure to stroll through the rose garden, take the wildflower walk and take in the fresh smells of spring along Prickly Pear Creek.

16. Say hello to newborn calves and lambs. 
Central Montana is home to numerous ranches…which means lots of calves and lambs. For a scenic route, travel north from Great Falls on I-15, take the Vaughn exit and drive west on U.S. Highway 200 through Sun River, Fort Shaw and Simms. Take a right onto Montana Highway 21 and travel to Augusta. You’ll see plenty of babies along the highway, with the Rocky Mountain Front serving as the backdrop. Sidenote: in Augusta, be sure to get a scoop (or two) of ice cream from Gail at Mel’s Diner.

Um, is there anything cuter than baby lamb twins?

Um, is there anything cuter than baby lamb twins?

17. Feed the ducks at Gibson Park in Great Falls. 
Grab your little ones and feed the ducks, geese and swans (great options are cracked corn, birdseed, oats and duck feed pellets) at the pond in Gibson Park. An added bonus: it’s a great place to stretch your legs and have your kids run off any extra energy from winter.

18. Take a hike in Montana’s urban wilderness.
Located 4 miles from downtown Missoula is the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness. With its easy access from Montana’s second largest city, the recreation area receives heavy use from residents and visitors alike and is a great place to get out and enjoy the many smells of spring. An added bonus: it’s a mixed use area and is ideal for trail running, biking and horseback riding.

Surrounded by trees is my kind of heaven.

Being surrounded by trees is my kind of heaven.

19. Whitewater raft on the Middle Fork of the Flathead, Stillwater and Gallatin rivers. 
Many of Montana’s rafting companies start offering rafting trips in May and June. To learn more about rafting in Western Montana, visit glaciermt.com. Or to learn more about whitewater rafting in Yellowstone Country, visit visityellowstonecountry.com.

Kayaking on the Gallatin River.

Kayaking on the Gallatin River.

20. Visit Libby Dam.
Located in northwest Montana, Libby Dam holds back the waters of Lake Koocanusa (a lake that spans between the U.S. and Canada) and helps control flooding on the Columbia River.

21. Fish at Fort Peck. 
If you’ve got a hankering to fish, Fort Peck Lake is the place to drop your line. The lake is home to record-size walleye, huge northern pike and plenty of lake trout.

A (massive) lake trout on Fort Peck.

A (massive) lake trout on Fort Peck.

22. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. 
Visit an important place in United State’s history at the site of Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in southeast Montana. Take the 4.5-mile-long road tour or walk along the self-guided Deep Ravine walking trail.

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A sculpture at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.

23. Say “cheers” at Garden City Brewfest.  
Taking place at Caras Park on Saturday, May 7, 2016, the Garden City Brewfest will feature more than 70 local Montana beers. Live music and food trucks (which happen to be one of my favorite things) will round out the event’s offerings.

What’s your top pick for spring in Montana? 

xo,
TT

PS: Special thanks to my pals in Yellowstone Country, SouthWest Montana, Central Montana, Missouri River Country and Southeast Montana for their help with this list. 

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