Tag Archives: The Canyon

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

Fall: Montana’s Bashful Season

Last week, I mourned the loss of summer. This week, I’m embracing fall in Montana’s Glacier Country. I can’t help it. You see, autumn in Montana has its own distinct feeling and personality that is perhaps best described as the perfect combination of a charming bashfulness, a dash of showmanship and of course, all things delicious.

Maybe it’s the mixture of apples, homemade scarecrows, cutesy small towns or the ravishingly beautiful waters set against changing fall colors that is so riveting. Or maybe it’s the fall fly-fishing, hay rides and uncrowded roads leading into our region’s hidden corners.

Scarecrow Festival in Stevensville - Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton/Montana Office of Tourism

Hello, pretty. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton/Montana Office of Tourism

Whatever it is, I dig it.

Happy autumn.
TT

PS: To read more on fall in Montana, check out this article from gonomad.com (published last year). And if you want to come see it for yourself, peruse vacation deals, created specifically for Montana’s bashful season.

Get Winter While the Getting’s Good

While we’ve had a touch of snow this week, we’ve also had something else that’s pretty great…sunshine and warmer weather! Which is creating a beautiful backdrop for hitting the slopes and trails of Western Montana.

Since winter is here for a few more weeks, we’ve decided to do a roundup of winter activities for your consideration. After all, you’ve got to get it while the getting is good.

1) Mush Those Pups. Dog sledding is a “kick in the pants” way to try a new winter activity and hop on a sled behind a team of well-trained dogs. Dog Sled Adventures near Olney offer great, exhilarating trips. Call them at 406.881.2275.

2) Hit The Slopes! Western Montana has six ski resorts ranging from mom & pop ski hills to a world-class resort. From Lost Trail Powder Mountain near Sula to Turner Mountain near Libby and Whitefish Mountain Resort in Whitefish, there is a ski area that wants to spend quality time with you.

Skiing at Snowbowl near Missoula. photo by larry turner

3) Rev Those Snowmobile Engines. Hands down, snowmobiling is one of my favorite winter activities. And our region has fun trails and great guides to take you on a snowmachine excursion. For guided snowmobiling in Seeley Lake, call Rich Ranch at 800.532.4350. Or rent a sled from Seeley Sports Rental, 406.677.3680. And new this year, Swan Mountain Snowmobiling offers guided trip to Desert Mountain. For more information, call 406.387.4203.

Riding the trails & enjoying the sites.

4) Pump Up Your Heart. Strap on those cross-country or skate skis and hit the groomed trails, found all around Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Try the 10km of trails at Glacier Outdoor Center in West Glacier or 33km of trails at The Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. And if you’re staying in Seeley Lake, take to the 15 miles of trails around Double Arrow Lodge.

Relaxing on the trails near Glacier National Park.

5) Scoop Up A Deal. Check out our vacation deals here.

Happy Winter!

TT

Bar Stool Races? Yes, Please.

Last weekend, I loaded my car, pulled on my snowboots, wrapped a scarf around my head and headed north. My destination: The Canyon.

The Canyon is the “Gateway to Glacier” and includes the communities of Columbia Falls, Hungry Horse, Coram, Martin City and West Glacier. Not only are these town small and charming, but they remind me of home…which I find completely lovely.

But I wasn’t just headed to The Canyon for the heck of it.

Last weekend was their 33rd Annual Cabin Fever Days. And while there were quite a few different activities happening, I had one thing and one thing only on my mind: bar stool races.

The mere name of this event made me want to know more. And, because I’m curious, see it for myself. And I will tell you, I was not disappointed. Check out the photos below…

This kid was by far the most graceful of any competitor.

The GreenMachine.

These guys were cool. As shown on their bus.

Rumor has it that this gentleman (who is very nice, by the way and didn’t crash once) has participated in every bar stool race since the event started.

Leader of the Pack. Vroom, vroom.

See why I loved it so much?

Local folks.

Not only were these gentlemen dressed festively, they kept the racers and event rolling smoothly.

Mountain men.

And with that, another Cabin Fever Days has come and gone. But if you want to see it for yourself (something I highly recommend), mark your calendar for February 10 – 12, 2012.

See you at the races…maybe even with my own bar stool.

TT