Tag Archives: Winter Fun

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 Biker’s Dream in Montana

You guys, last month I did something I’ve never done before. I went fat biking just outside of Whitefish, Montana. And it was awesome. If you’ve never heard of fat biking, not a worry! It’s basically just riding a normal bike, except one with over-sized tires and wider rims that make it easier to navigate softer terrain, like snow.

Hello handsome.

My handsome fat bike.

For this adventure, I headed out to Whitefish Bike Retreat with some friends of mine where we had the chance to check out the retreat, get fitted for our bikes and be sure we were properly bundled for biking outside. This was my first time to Whitefish Bike Retreat and I have to tell you, I was impressed!

The bunk lodge at Whitefish Bike Retreat.

The bunk lodge at Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Located adjacent to The Whitefish Trail, the retreat offers access to nearby trails, as well as on-site lodging that includes a bunk lodge with private rooms and bunk rooms (where you share a room with someone else), as well as a kitchen, bathroom and living room. Take a look.
Sidenote: in the summer, Whitefish Bike Retreat also offers camping

The retreat is located in a beautiful forested area a short drive from downtown Whitefish.

The retreat is located in a beautiful forested area a short drive from downtown Whitefish.

One of the bunk rooms.

One of the bunk rooms.

One of the private rooms.

One of the private rooms.

I LOVED how Cricket, the owner, decorated the space.

I LOVED how Cricket, the owner, decorated the space.

A cozy reading corner.

Bikes were incorporated into all elements of the bunk lodge. 

After getting acquainted with the space at Whitefish Bike Retreat, we headed out to the Beaver Lakes Trailhead to take our fat bikes for a spin.

My bike at the trailhead.

My bike at the trailhead.

Our gang of biker babes.

Our gang of biker babes.

Biking the trail.

Biking the trail.

Making our way up the road.

Making our way up the road.

Happy bikers.

Happy bikers.

If you want to fat bike in Western Montana, here’s a few things to note:
Whitefish and Missoula are two of the best destinations for fat biking in Glacier Country.
-While you can bring your own bike, you can also rent a fat bike from Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish, Montana, for $45/day.
-If you’re an avid mountain biker, I’d recommend staying at Whitefish Bike Retreat, especially if you’re traveling with friends.

Happy (fat) biking…here’s to seeing you on the trail!

xo,
TT

Take me for a Sleigh Ride (in Montana)

Being from the countryside of Montana, it’s probably no surprise that I’m a big fan of horses and now, seeing as I live in the “city,” I welcome any opportunity to take a horseback ride, wagon ride or sleigh ride. Earlier this month, I headed out to one of my favorite guest ranches (Bar W Guest Ranch near Whitefish) for a snowy sleigh ride behind Dutch and Duke, two beautiful Percheron horses.

Dutch and Duke.

Dutch and Duke.

Upon arriving at Bar W, my traveling buddies and I were greeted with hot chocolate, donuts and a cozy fire in their main lodge.

Donuts = my kind of welcome.

Donuts = my kind of welcome.

Ladies and gents, please meet the best hot chocolate I've had in a long time.

Ladies and gents, please meet the best hot chocolate I’ve had in a long time.

After fueling up my body with hot chocolate (that they let me take on the sleigh ride!), we headed outside to load up the sleigh, say hi to the boys and settle in for a cozy ride in Montana’s fresh mountain air.

Our wranglers? Two cute girls!

Our wranglers? Two cute girls!

These horses have the winter off.

These horses have the winter off.

Take me for a horse-drawn sleigh ride and I'll probably love you forever.

Take me for a horse-drawn sleigh ride and I’ll probably love you forever.

Our tree-lined path.

Our tree-lined path.

A peaceful morning at Bar W Guest Ranch.

A peaceful morning at Bar W Guest Ranch.

If you want to take a sleigh ride in Montana, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
-The sleigh rides at Bar W Guest Ranch are 45 minutes long; be sure you’re bundled up properly (long johns, cozy coat, gloves, boots, hat, etc.).
-Sleigh rides at Bar W are $55/person (kids 3 and under are free) and include hot beverages.
-If you’re visiting Western Montana during the summer months, Bar W also offers horse-drawn wagon rides, a chili dinner ride and full dinner ride. Learn more here.

xo,
TT

Brunch at West Glacier’s Belton Chalet

Truth time: I’ve never been a big brunch girl. To me, breakfast and lunch have always been two separate and distinct meals that weren’t meant to be combined. Plus, I’m the kind of person who can’t possibly eat lunch without already having eaten breakfast (weird, I know). All of this was true until I laid my eyes on the brunch menu at the Belton Chalet in West Glacier, Montana.

Located in West Glacier, the historic Belton Chalet is located just outside Glacier National Park's west entrance.

Located in West Glacier, the historic Belton Chalet is located just outside Glacier National Park’s west entrance.

Hello there, gorgeous.

Hello lover.

Last week, before setting out on a snowshoe excursion in Glacier National Park (you can read more about that herewith my girlfriends, we decided to stop at the Belton Chalet for brunch. And we were not disappointed. Between the four of us, we dined on the crispy tortilla tower (which was amazing), roasted apple bacon griddlecakes, tamales (the special that day) and jumbo cinnamon roll french toast.

Um, yum.

Um, yum.

They also have a bloody mary bar on Sunday mornings.

The Bloody Mary Bar is open for business on Sundays.

These adorable cottages, located on-site, are available for overnight stays year-round.

These adorable cottages, located on-site, are available for overnight stays year-round.

Needless to say, we left with full and totally satisfied.

If you plan to venture to Glacier National Park this winter and want to brunch at the Belton Chalet, here are a few things to note:
-The Belton is open for brunch on Sundays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. through March 21, 2016.
-Do yourself (and the world) a favor and order the jumbo cinnamon roll french toast. It’s that good.
-Their on-site cottages, Lewis and Clark, as well as the Adobe House are available for overnight accommodations year-round. Plus, they have a few winter getaway packages that include lodge rooms (check those out here). 
-If dinner is more your speed, the Belton is open Fridays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. – 8 p.m., now through March 21, 2016.

Happy brunching!
TT

A winter snowshoe in Montana’s Glacier National Park

Earlier this week, some of my favorite girls and I had a hankering to get outside. As we were brainstorming some ideas on where we could go and what we could do, we started thinking about our backyard playground: Glacier National Park. Of our group, I was the only one who had ever gone snowshoeing in the park (you can read more about that day—which included seeing a bald eagle pluck a fish out of the waters of Lake McDonald—here). And if we’re being honest, that was something that needed to change. So we loaded up the suburban and headed north to spend the day snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.

The obligatory group photo op at the west entrance.

The obligatory group photo op at the west entrance.

After we arrived, our first stop was Apgar. No matter how many times I’ve visited this special place in Montana (with this group and others), I always make sure to take the time to pop into Apgar Village and see the many moods of Lake McDonald.

The clouds created a dramatic scene.

The clouds created a dramatic scene.

The low clouds created a serene, somewhat charming view.

The low clouds created a serene, almost charming view.

En route to Lake McDonald Lodge, the starting point of our snowshoe trek.

En route to Lake McDonald Lodge, the starting point of our snowshoe trek.

After we parked at the lodge (sidenote: check out the most up-to-date road report for the Going-to-the-Sun Road here) and geared ourselves up, we made our way up the road and were quickly surrounded by snow-covered trees, glimpses of mountain peaks and snippets of a beautiful blue sky.

My happy place.

My happy place.

Growing up in the mountains, this scene is like food for my Montana-lovin' soul.

Growing up in the mountains, this scene is like food for my Montana-lovin’ soul.

My work boo (and favorite adventure partner).

My work boo (and one of my favorite adventure partners).

Blue sky is also my boo.

Blue sky is also my boo.

Exploring untouched snow.

Exploring untouched snow.

Taking in the view.

Taking in the view.

Looking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Looking up the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This family was the cutest.

This family was the cutest.

And sometimes, after a great day in the park, you just need to run (in slow motion) in your snowshoes.

xo,
TT

A Day Trip to Montana’s Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

I don’t know about all of you, but from time to time I feel the need to get away from it all. Away from the office, away from my desk, away from my couch and away from the modern-day distractions that are way too good at distracting me. And since one of my goals (I don’t really do resolutions) for 2016 is to have more adventures and to spend more time soaking up the special moments and experiences that surround me, New Year’s Day seemed like the perfect day to get away and start the year off on the right note.

Saying goodbye to 2015 + hello to 2016.

Saying goodbye to 2015 + hello to 2016.

To kick-start 2016, I headed to one of my favorite places: the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Stevensville (and literally 27 minutes from my house), the Lee Metcalf is one of my go-to places for an outside jaunt. And while I’ve visited the 2,800-acre refuge several times, there was something different about this visit. I’m not sure if it was the absolute stillness, the freezing January temperatures or the perfect sunset that cast its glow over the area’s mountains, but whatever it was I do know this: it was just what I needed.

Complete stillness at the refuge.

Complete stillness at the refuge.

Taking flight.

Birds taking flight.

Twilight reflects on the Bitterroot Mountains.

Twilight reflects on the Bitterroot Mountains.

A lingering ray of sunlight lit up the peak west of the refuge.

A lingering ray of sunlight lit up the peak west of the refuge.

Shades of pink + Montana = two of my favorite things.

Shades of pink + Montana = two of my favorite things.

I left that night feeling calm, fulfilled and ready to tackle a new year. And for that, I’m grateful. Here’s to having all the adventures we can, to knowing when to take the time to reset and to exploring the countless treasures that are found in our own backyards.

xo,
TT

7 Things to do during Winter in Montana if you don’t ski

Let’s face it: downhill skiing and snowboarding are two of Montana’s favorite winter pastimes. Heck, just in Western Montana’s Glacier Country alone there are six ski areas that have more than 7,000 acres of terrain.

Skiing with a view at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo courtesy Brian Schott

Skiing with a view at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: Brian Schott

But while that’s true, in no way do I want you to think that you have to ski when you come to Montana. Because you guys, even though our tree-lined powder-filled runs are awesome, there’s so much more to winter in Big Sky Country.

And in case skiing and snowboarding are not your cup of tea, I’ve rounded up 7 things to do in Western Montana for non-skiers and boarders.

1. Snowmobile on groomed trails. 
While I’m a snowboarder (sidenote: not a great one, although I can sometimes get off the chair lift without crashing now…baby steps, people) and love hitting the mountain for some runs, my true winter love is snowmobiling. To ride the amazing powder in the Swan Mountains, book a tour with Rich Ranch. Or if you’re basing your winter trip out of the Flathead Valley, take a guided tour with Swan Mountain Snowmobiling. Swan Mountain Snowmobiling does tours from a few different trailheads around the valley, but my personal favorite is Canyon Creek.

Snowmobiling north of Columbia Falls, Montana.

Snowmobiling north of Columbia Falls, Montana.

2. Travel at the speed of dog.
There’s nothing quite like dog sledding, especially when you’re cruising across a frozen lake. To try your own hand at yelling “mush,” try a dog sledding tour with Base Camp Bigfork in Bigfork or Dog Sled Adventures and Winter Woods Dog Sled Tours, both in Whitefish.

Dog sledding on Swan Lake.

Dog sledding on Swan Lake.

3. Soak in hot springs. 
My love of hot springs is no secret (read more about one of my favorite hot springs destinations here) and Western Montana’s Glacier Country has a few hot springs that are ideal to visit during the cold winter months. Located in Paradise (I promise that’s the town’s real name), Quinn’s Hot Springs sits along the Clark Fork River on the St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway and has a variety of lodging options, including lodge rooms and cabins. Located a bit north of Paradise is Symes Hot Springs Hotel & Mineral Baths in—yep, you guessed it—the community of Hot Springs.

Hello, Paradise.

Hello, Paradise.

4. Take a sleigh ride.
One of the coziest winter activities in Montana is a sleigh ride. Glide across the snow on a sleigh ride at Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake, Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish or Black Diamond Guest Ranch in De Borgia.

Take me for a sleigh ride.

A sleigh ride at Bar W Guest Ranch. 

5. Snowshoe in Glacier National Park. 
One of the biggest misconceptions about Montana’s Glacier National Park is that it’s closed during the winter. I’m happy to tell you that the park is open year-round and is a wonderful place to snowshoe. On weekends in late January, February and March, the National Park Service offers ranger-led guided snowshoe walks, while visitors are welcome to snowshoe anytime. Popular places include the shore of Lake McDonald (you can read more about my unforgettable snowshoe and close encounter with a bald eagle in the park here), the trails at Marias Pass and the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Snowshoeing near Marias Pass in Glacier National Park.

Snowshoeing near Marias Pass in Glacier National Park.

6. Ride a fat bike. 
A winter activity that’s growing in popularity, fat biking include riding a bike with oversized tires that make it easy for the rider to move across the snow. One of the best places in the Flathead Valley to tackle fat biking is at Whitefish Bike Retreat. Situated along the Whitefish Trail, the bike retreat also has lodging options. Meanwhile in the southern end of Glacier Country, Missoula Bicycle Works has a variety of fat bikes for rent with plenty of riding destinations, including Blue Mountain Recreation Area.

Fat biking along Whitefish Lake. Photo courtesy Jessica Downing

Fat biking along Whitefish Lake. Photo: Jessica Downing

7. Take a brewery tour. 
Western Montana’s brewery industry continues to grow and the region is now home to 22 breweries. Tap Room Tours offers guided brewery tours in Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley.

A behind-the-scenes peek into Montana's breweries.

A behind-the-scenes peek into Montana’s breweries.

Happy winter, you little snow bunnies!

xo,
TT

Winter in Whitefish, Montana

Earlier this month, I was able to spend some time with two of my favorite girls in one of my favorite mountain towns: Whitefish, Montana.

The view of Big Mountain from Central Avenue.

The downtown view of Big Mountain.

Hands down, Whitefish is one of the cutest and most charming towns in Western Montana. It sits on the edge of Whitefish Lake and at the base of Big Mountain, home of Whitefish Mountain Resort. (You can read more about taking the train to Whitefish here and get a glimpse of Whitefish during the summer here, courtesy of my friend Kristin’s blog). 

The main focus of this trip was winter adventure. Basically, we wanted to pack in as much fun as possible in a two-day time period. Our adventure list included: Glacier National Park, snowmobiling, snowboarding/skiing and exploring downtown.

And adventure we did. Take a look below…

Capturing the view of Glacier's snow-covered peaks from Lake McDonald.

Capturing the view of Glacier’s snow-covered peaks from Lake McDonald.

Jumping for joy after riding up to Kimerly Basin.

Jumping for joy after snowmobiling up to Kimmerly Basin with Swan Mountain Outfitters.

A perfect view.

A perfect view.

Looking out over the valley from the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Looking out over the valley from the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Debbie making turns down the backside.

Debbie making turns down the backside.

Um, that is not true. Just FYI.

Um, that is not true. Just FYI.

Perusing the shops at Stumptown Marketplace.

Perusing the shops at Stumptown Marketplace.

Locally made jewelry on display at Stumptown Marketplace.

Locally made jewelry on display at Stumptown Marketplace.

Love.

Love.

If you're in Whitefish, you NEED to eat here.

If you’re in Whitefish, make a reservation at Tupelo Grille. 

Cuddling up under a bison throw at Bar W Guest Ranch.

Cuddling up under a bison throw at Bar W Guest Ranch.

And if you need more convincing, I’ve rounded up some information to help you plan your winter adventure to Whitefish…

Why I love Whitefish in winter: It’s a fantastic base camp for a variety of winter adventures, like snowboarding or skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, snowmobiling with Swan Mountain Outfitters near Columbia Falls (only a 15-minute drive from Whitefish) and heading into Glacier National Park for a scenic drive or to snowshoe along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Where to stay: For a quiet stay just minutes from town, consider The Bar W Guest Ranch. During the winter, it operates as a giant, cozy bed-and-breakfast.

Where to eat: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whitefish has some of the best dining in Montana. Sidenote: You can read more about their food scene from writer Leslie Kelly here

Of note: Tupelo Grille (try the creme brulee with a huckleberry sauce), Ciao Mambo (order the nachos – they are delicious!), Stumptown Marketplace (pick up pastries from the Polebridge Mercantile or try an onion ring corn dog from Pig & Olive) and Montana Coffee Traders (great coffee and yummy breakfast).

And if you need a tour guide? Call me (or tweet me at @MontanaTia).

xo,
TT

A Perfect Winter Stay at Montana’s Izaak Walton Inn

In my travels around Montana, there are some places that I end up falling madly in love with. One such place: the Izaak Walton Inn. Named for English writer and fly-fisherman Izaak Walton and located just off Highway 2 between East Glacier Park and West Glacier, the inn is located in Essex—one of Montana’s tiniest towns.

Earlier this month, I had a bit of time to do some adventuring so I set off for Essex. My plans involved filling my tummy as full as possible in the Dining Car, listening to the trains roll past (the Izaak Walton Inn is also a whistle-stop location for Amtrak’s Empire Builder), soaking in the hot tub and snowshoeing in Glacier National Park.

Hello, Glacier National Park.

Peeking into Glacier National Park.

One of the stunning views along Highway 2.

One of the stunning views along Highway 2.

Hello, handsome.

Hello, handsome.

The lobby is just as it should be: quaint and cozy, with a wood-burning fireplace.

The lobby is just as it should be: quaint and cozy, with a wood-burning fireplace.

The railroad rolls through Essex.

The railroad rolls through Essex.

The view of the inn from across the tracks.

The view of the inn from across the tracks.

While in Essex, I was able to tour some of the other lodging accommodations at the inn. In addition to the lodge rooms, they have cabins (that are absolutely adorable), cabooses, luxury cabooses and a luxury locomotive. And to be honest, they’re all as cute as can be.

The appropriately named red caboose.

The appropriately named red caboose.

The bedroom in the luxury locomotive.

The bedroom in the luxury locomotive.

The living room in the luxury caboose.

The living room in the luxury caboose.

After dinner in the Dining Car Restaurant (sidenote: if you haven’t had dinner at the Izaak Walton, put it on your list right now. Chef Adam uses many locally sourced Montana ingredients in his dishes and his food is so good!) and a good night’s sleep, me and my traveling partners ventured into Glacier National Park for some snowshoeing. We set out from the trailhead at Marias Pass and had a fun day playing in the park.

Walking through a forest of lodgepole pines.

Walking through a forest of lodgepole pines.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, a visit to Glacier National Park requires a selfie.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, a visit to Glacier National Park requires a selfie.

Halfway through our hike, we were met with a blue sky and sunshine.

Halfway through our hike, we were met with blue sky and sunshine.

Taking in the view of Little Dog Mountain in Glacier National Park.

Taking in the view of Little Dog Mountain in Glacier National Park.

It was a good weekend.

xo,
TT

 

A Winter Weekend in Montana’s Glacier National Park

There are a few things that I know—without a shadow of a doubt—to be true. One such truth is that Glacier National Park is magic. While most visitors to the park come during the summer season, Glacier National Park is open year-round and winter provides a completely different (and serenely peaceful) experience in the Crown of the Continent. This past weekend, I was able to sneak in a getaway to one of the most beautiful places in the world and it did not disappoint.

Take a look…

Lake McDonald on a perfectly morning.

Lake McDonald on a perfect winter morning.

A frost-covered dock + some of the most photographed peaks in Montana.

A frost-covered dock + some of the most photographed peaks in Montana.

A picture perfect view.

A picture perfect view.

Glacier National Park requires a group selfie.

Glacier National Park requires a group selfie.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open for traffic to Lake McDonald Lodge (11.5 miles from West Glacier).

The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open for traffic to Lake McDonald Lodge (11.5 miles from West Glacier).

And since I had such an amazing weekend exploring Glacier National Park, I wanted to make it easy for you to enjoy the park this winter. So, I’ve rounded up my top recommendations for winter fun.

Take a Drive
On the west side, cruise up to Lake McDonald Lodge from West Glacier. It’s one of the only times of year that you’ll see just a handful of cars on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Additional recommended drives include Highway 2 between West Glacier and East Glacier Park, as well as the North Fork Road between Columbia Falls and Polebridge.

Cross-country Ski, Snowshoe or Walk 
With the Camas Road and much of the Going-to-the-Sun Road being closed to vehicular traffic, both of those roads are ideal for walking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The park also has numerous trails for enjoying its winter wonderland.

Fill Your Tummy
For one of the best brunches in Montana, fuel your body at The Belton Chalet in West Glacier. Chef Melissa whips up an array of brunch options on Sunday mornings. And if you’re looking for a prime lunch or dinner spot, dine at The Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. Side note: It’s imperative that you save room for the huckleberry cobbler. Trust me. 

Spend the Night
To really be able to soak up the beauty of Glacier National Park in the winter, it’s best to spend at least one night. Recommended accommodations include the Historic Tamarack Lodge in Hungry Horse, The Belton Chalet in West Glacier (lodge rooms are open every Saturday night) and the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex.

Happy exploring!
TT

PS: Be sure to hashtag your photos on twitter and instagram with #GlacierMT so I can keep up with your adventures!