things to do outdoors
Grab your carabiners and head out into some of the country’s best climbing spots. With dramatic rock faces, rugged crags, crack climbing and bouldering playgrounds, Western Montana offers single and multi-pitch destinations for beginners and seasoned climbers. Climb on and conquer the crux in Glacier Country. Play it safe and use one of our experienced guides if you’re new to the sport.
Fly nonstop to Missoula from San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose. Get some space and breathe in the fresh mountain air. Montana is calling.
Located right outside of Hamilton, this canyon is one of the most beautiful climbing destinations in the area. Known for its serious characteristics, this is the place to go for an adventurous climbing route. The canyon offers longer routes (in the range of 1,000 – 1,200 feet) that are eight – 10 pitches in length. In winter, there will frequently be ice at the beginning of the routes, offering a fun mix climb as you make your way up the ice toward the upper rock pitches.
Located in the Bitterroot Valley, Kootenai offers a variety of climbing routes, ranging from steep, sport routes to traditional climbing lines. Offering paths for every level of climber, this area presents the widest range of grades and is a fine place to learn the ropes. Plus, no climbs are longer than two pitches. If you are new to climbing in the Bitterroot, keep in mind that the rocks can be variable and crack systems are frequently smaller than they seem from the ground. Be prepared by carrying a variety of equipment and be sure to wear a helmet.
A number of climbing opportunities are available off Highway 12 near Lolo Hot Springs. The Heap, Crystal Theater/Babcock Spires, Elk Rock, and Tor Rock rise up out of the Lolo National Forest near the Idaho border, awaiting sport climbers of all skill levels.
Located in the Bitterroot Valley, approximately 15 minutes south of Hamilton, this area offers crag climbing and bouldering. Lost Horse is known for its diverse terrain, great rock quality and numerous climbing options in a small area. It offers routes as long as six pitches, although most routes run at an average of two – three pitches.
On U.S. Highway 2 between Columbia Falls and Hungry Horse lies Berne Park, an easily accessible bouldering playground that offers more than two dozen beginning and intermediate routes.
Kila Crags, only 8 miles west of Kalispell off US-2, is a popular sport climbing destination. Many of the sport routes are beginner and intermediate-friendly. Sun-warmed, south-facing walls make this area a good place to climb on spring and fall days.
Less than 20 miles from Eureka and boasting 500 climbing routes, Stone Hill is northwest Montana’s largest climbing area. Scale the quartzite rock in this climber’s wonderland and be rewarded with outstanding views of nearby Lake Koocanusa, a 90-mile-long reservoir that stretches into Canada, and lush ponderosa pine forest.
Near Olney, a half hour northwest of Whitefish, Point of Rocks offers a combination of hundreds of sport climbs, trad climbs and bouldering on argillite rock. Short hikes link crags hidden in gently rolling hills, characteristics which may appeal to nature lovers and solitude seekers. As this area is located on state lands, an inexpensive state lands permit is required to climb here.
A little further north off U.S. Highway 93, the Stillwater River cuts through the green argillite walls of Stillwater Canyon east of Stryker. The canyon boasts more than 30 top rope, sport and trad climbing routes. The cool air coming off the water combined with the shade provided by the surrounding Koocanusa National Forest means that temperatures stay comfortable even in July and August.
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