Author Archives: Racene

RVing Western Montana – Who, What, When, Where and Why

For travelers who love to road trip and camp, RV camping (aka RVing) may be the perfect way to hit the road in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Our warm season is just right for an RV holiday—be it a long weekend or the entire summer. Travel light or load up the bicycles and kayaks and set off on an epic adventure. Magnificent scenery and a road full of memories in the making await.

Who? Client groups of all sizes will enjoy RVing—from one person to a family or group of friends. The only requirement is that everyone enjoys spending time together and is able to be a team player. If your group is new to RVing, there are some great articles from the pros on surviving life in an RV.

What? Choosing the right recreational vehicle for your clients will ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Whether pulling a camper trailer behind a vehicle or utilizing a motorhome, travelers should make choices based on their travel needs and destinations. In Montana, campgrounds and parks have restrictions on the length of vehicles allowed. It’s advised to develop a well-thought-out itinerary based on the type of RV being used. Here is a sample itinerary for consideration.

RVing services are abundant along every corridor.

When? While many enjoy RVing year-round, Montana’s warm season (May – October) is the most favorable time for this kind of adventure, with clear roads, comfortable weather conditions and a wide variety of public and private campgrounds. Outdoor recreation is most accessible to travelers with camper trailers and motorhomes.

Enjoying a campfire in the beautiful Mission Valley.

Where? From exclusive Montana RV destinations, to boondocking (RVing without any hookups water, electric or sewer) and basic-service public and private campgrounds, there are some pretty great Western Montana RV camping locations to be found.

Enjoying a break along Highway 200 south of Plains, Montana.

Why? There’s plenty to see and do in Montana’s warm season. Whether you’re organizing activities for the recreationist, the history buff or the cultural enthusiast, each and every community has something to add to the adventure. If soaking in the views is more of a draw, traversing our scenic byways is breathtakingly beautiful.

Overlook on Polson hill south of Flathead Lake.

BONUS: How? Getting here is easy, with direct access via major U.S. points of entry by plane, train or automobile. Your clients can rent their recreational vehicles en route or when they arrive in the region. Once here, getting around is the fun part. It’s time to start exploring the area and creating Montana memories. And, rest assured, the warm and friendly locals will happily provide directions anytime they’re necessary.

For more on creating the perfect Montana RV camping itinerary for your clients, contact our Tourism Sales Manager, Debbie Picard.

The road is calling,

RF

TOP 5 WINTER EXPERIENCES IN WESTERN MONTANA

Located in the northern Rocky Mountains, it’s no wonder Western Montana’s Glacier Country is known as a winter destination with great recreation activities. Among Montana’s snow-covered landscapes, your FIT clients can have a different adventure every day of the week as they enjoy 300+ inches (7.6 meters) of snow that fall on our mountain ranges and create powder-filled playgrounds in our valleys, making the region ideal for winter-focused experiences.

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To help with creating custom itineraries for your FIT market, here are the top 5 winter experiences in Western Montana.

1. Snowmobiling. With hundreds of miles of groomed trails for riders of all abilities, snowmobiling is one of Montana’s favorite winter pastimes. There are scenic and well-groomed trails for travelers who prefer a more relaxed experience to mountainsides and rock cliffs for the more skilled and extreme adventure seekers. Experienced guides can also help ensure your clients experience the best of Montana’s snowmobile trails and offerings. Additional resources include local snowmobile clubs and snowmobile dealers,

snowmobiling

2. Downhill skiing and snowboarding. The most popular winter activity in Western Montana is skiing and snowboarding at the region’s six ski areas that include small family-owned ski hills to a world-class resort. No matter which one your clients choose, they will enjoy affordable lift tickets, thousands of acres of terrain, fresh powder and, best of all, no lift lines. In addition to our maintained downhill offerings, Western Montana also has incredible backcountry terrain that is accessible via skinning, snowmobile or snowcat.

skiing

3. Cross-country skiing. Situated among various mountain ranges, your clients will find multiple groomed trails systems throughout the region that are ideal for cross-country, Nordic and skate skiing. Due to our location in the Rocky Mountain West, Glacier Country is known for its reliable snow and has a well-maintained trail system that is fun and challenging for both skate and classic skiers of all ages. Most of the ski trail systems have no user fees but will accept donations.

XCountry Skiing in Glacier Country

4. Snowshoeing. Making a comeback with smaller, lighter and easy-to-use equipment, snowshoeing is an easily-accessible activity in Western Montana. Popular snowshoeing locations include Glacier National Park, where free ranger-led snowshoe walks are offered on weekends during the winter months. In addition, many of Montana’s national forests have trails that are prime for snowshoeing adventures, with snowshoe rentals available in most communities.

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5. Horse-drawn sleigh rides. Perhaps one of the most tranquil ways to experience winter in Montana is on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through a snow-covered forest.  Several properties offer sleigh rides during the winter months to help their guests experience a quieter side of Montana, one that includes a journey across an open meadow, complete with stunning views and hot chocolate beside a cozy fire.

A cowboy on the Bar W Guest Ranch prepares horses for a winter sleigh ride.

A cowboy on the Bar W Guest Ranch prepares horses for a winter sleigh ride.

For more information on Montana’s top 5 winter offerings, check out more winter itineraries and suggestions here. Or, if you would like more information on how to create a custom winter in Montana itinerary for your clients, contact our Tourism Sales Manager, Debbie Picard.

Come join the fun,

RF

8 PLACES TO DISCOVER MONTANA HISTORY

For many of our FIT and group tours, discovering Montana’s diverse and centuries-old history is part of the reason they come to Big Sky Country. With a history and heritage that extends many millennia—beginning with the American Indians, Montana’s First Nations—to the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1803, Western Montana’s Glacier Country has a rich and colorful history and heritage that lives on through physical and oral presentations found in all eight counties of the region.

Montanans love to share stories about our state, our communities and those who preceded us. Museums and historical sites are dotted all across the region—some well-known and some that will surprise and delight history enthusiasts far and wide. The following are a few places to suggest to group tour and FIT clients who enjoy stories of Montana and the American West, both past and present.

Glacier County Historical Museum (Cut Bank) Stroll through exhibits and historic structures depicting the history of Glacier County and the surrounding area including Maltby homestead, Marias School, oil derrick, oil worker’s house and the Great Northern Railroad depot. This museum is a great place to experience the early days of Cut Bank in a living history setting. Great for groups of all sizes.

  • Open Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day – Tuesday through Saturday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: free – donations are welcome
The entrance to the historic Savenac Nursery in Haugan, Montana. Photo: U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

The entrance to the historic Savenac Nursery in Haugan, Montana. Photo: U.S. Forest Service Northern Region

Savenac Historic Tree Nursery Visitor Center (Haugan) Founded in 1907 as a U.S. Forest Service tree nursery, this facility eventually became an important part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program which laid the groundwork for the United States of America’s national park system. The CCC was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and provided unskilled manual labor jobs related to the conservation and development of natural resources in rural lands owned by federal, state and local governments. Today the tree nursery serves as a visitor center and offers a self-guided interpretive tour highlighting the history of the site, nursery operations and the fires of 1910. Groups of all sizes will enjoy this historic location.

  • Open daily from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Admission fees: free
Old Jail Museum of Sanders County. Photo: Jen Kreiner

Old Jail Museum of Sanders County. Photo: Jen Kreiner

Old Jail Museum (Thompson Falls) This 100-year-old jail features a variety of local history about famous explorer and city namesake David Thompson, construction of the Thompson Falls Dam, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps and the fires of 1910. This museum is a true hidden gem and is accessible for groups of all sizes.

  • Open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $5 per family, children admitted free. Group rates available.
Life-size American Indian encampment display.

Life-size American Indian encampment display.

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana (Charlo) This 11,000+-square-foot museum graciously depicts the history and culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation and early Montana. It features artifacts, historical photographs, a magnificent beadwork collection, armaments and a life-size diorama room filled with mounted wildlife and an Indian camp from around 1880. This must-see museum will captivate your clients traveling in small and large groups. Based on how in-depth your group would like to go into Montana’s history, a customized tour can range from one to three hours.

  • Open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – Monday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $5 for adults, $4.50 for seniors, $4 for students, $2.50 for children ages 6 to 12 years of age and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are also available.
Main entrance to the sprawling grounds of Fort Missoula.

Main entrance to the sprawling grounds of Fort Missoula.

Historical Museum at Fort Missoula (Missoula) Fort Missoula has over 250 years of history beginning in 1877 as an U.S. Army fort used by the 7th Infantry and the 25thh Infantry Bicycle Corps. It was then used as a military training center during World War I followed by being the Northwest Regional Headquarters for the Civilian Conservation Corps. Later it was an alien detention center and prison for military personnel. Decommissioned for official military government use in 1947, Fort Missoula is now owned and operated by federal and county government. The museum has seen a resurgence of interest and now serves as a significant testament to the history and heritage of the Missoula Valley.

  • Open daily Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day – Monday through Saturday – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: Tuesday through Sunday – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Admission fees: $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, $2 for students, $10 per family and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are available.
Trailhead to the walking trail at Traveler's Rest State Park.

Trailhead to the walking trail at Traveler’s Rest State Park.

Travelers’ Rest State Park (Lolo) This state park is the only archaeologically-verified campsite with physical evidence of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the nation. Centuries before Lewis and Clark, this site was used by Montana’s First Nations, including the Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Nez Perce. The 51-acre park is also an idyllic spot for a short stroll and has a rich bird habitat, with more than 115 species recorded within the park boundaries. Interpretative programs are offered daily in the summer with special events promoted throughout the year.

  • Open daily year-round
  • Admission fees: $4 per person (walk-in, bicycle, bus passenger) and $6 per vehicle
  • Group use permits and fees apply
St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. Photo: St. Mary’s Mission

St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville. Photo: St. Mary’s Mission

Historic St. Mary’s Mission (Stevensville) 48 years before Montana became a state, the St. Mary’s Mission was established in 1841 by Father Pierre DeSmet by request of the Salish Indians seeking Black Robes as teachers. This historical site includes the original structures of the 1866 Chapel and Father Ravalli’s log cabin and pharmacy which contains furnishings handmade by Father Ravalli, Montana’s first medical doctor. The mission is one of Montana’s best-kept secrets and a wonderful experience for groups of all sizes.

  • Open April 15 through October 15 – Tuesday through Friday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Admission fees: $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for students and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Reserved group rates (10 or more) are available.
Southern style mansion of copper king Marcus Daly.

Southern style mansion of copper king Marcus Daly.

Daly Mansion and Margaret Daly Memorial Arboretum (Hamilton) Completed in 1910 by famed Missoula architect A.J. Gibson, the Daly Mansion is the historic family home of the famous American industrialist and founder of Hamilton, Marcus Daly. It is a 24,000-square-foot Georgian Revival home that sits on 41 acres of expansive lawns, gardens and an arboretum that boasts one of the widest and rarest variety of trees in the state of Montana. The exhibits showcase the story of Daly and his rise from working-class immigrant to copper magnate along with the local, regional and international history tied to his extended family.

  • Museum is open daily mid-May through first week of October – 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • Grounds are open daily mid-May through first week of October – 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Offseason: by appointment
  • Admission fees: $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children and no cost for children under 6 when accompanied by an adult. Group rates are available.

If you would like more information on options for a history and heritage filled itinerary through Western Montana or need help planning an itinerary, contact Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager, for assistance.

Enjoy your stroll through Western Montana history,
RF

FOODIE FUN IN WESTERN MONTANA – FOOD TRUCKS, BAKERIES AND ICE CREAM

Authentic and delicious food is becoming more and more prevalent in people’s minds when they think about Montana. With a diverse range of culinary offerings and experiences, it’s easier than ever to find locally sourced, homemade, gluten-free and vegetarian cuisine.

To help you plan a unique and perfectly-catered FIT itinerary for your clientele, here are some unusual and fun culinary experiences that are available in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Food Trucks – growing in popularity, food trucks can be found all over Montana. For clients who would like to experience this growing trend, food trucks are often found at special events like rodeos, fairs, festivals and farmers markets (held weekly in many towns within the region during the warm season) throughout Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Missoula is home to many portable food vendors and often found along with music and entertainment. Every Wednesday (June – August) from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., your clients can stroll through vibrant downtown Missoula with a stop at Caras Park for Out to Lunch, where they can enjoy some of the best food trucks in the region. Another great weekly event is Missoula’s Downtown ToNight, which happens every Thursday evening (June – August) from 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at Caras Park. Caras Park is located in the heart of downtown and is nestled between the Wilma Theater, the Missoula Carrousel and the Clark Fork River.

Location: Caras Park, 123 Carousel Drive, Missoula

Rain or shine, there is always music, fun and food trucks at Missoula’s Downtown ToNight

Rain or shine, there is always music, fun and food trucks at Missoula’s Downtown ToNight

El Cazador street tacos are the perfect summer lunch or dinner

El Cazador street tacos are the perfect summer lunch or dinner

Wood-fired pizza from the Clove Cart

Wood-fired pizza from the Clove Cart

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Tia’s Tamales are tasty and served from a retro trailer

Sweet treats – Fresh, rich, sweet and creamy are great words describe treats from our local bakeries and ice cream shops. Using locally sourced ingredients, these businesses are a foodie’s dream. Homemade sweet indulgences can be found throughout the Glacier County region but here are a couple stops for any food lover’s trip itinerary.

Bernices

Bernice’s Bakery, Missoula’s oldest bakery, is known as a neighborhood hangout and serves cupcakes and cookies (available in all shapes and favors) with a cup of fresh hot coffee. You’ll also see locals hanging out and catching up on the happenings about town.

Location: 190 South 3rd West, Missoula, 406.728.1358

 

Windmill

If your clients are traveling from Missoula north to Polson, Whitefish or Glacier National Park, be sure to recommend a Western Montana favorite: Windmill Village Bakery. Nancy serves up fresh and hot doughnuts, as well as cookies, huckleberry muffins and a variety of pies.

Location: 26715 U.S. Highway 93, Ravalli, 406.745.2270

*Sidenote: the Windmill is open seasonally, from spring through fall. For exact dates, visit their facebook page.

 

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Wheat Montana Bakery cinnamon rolls are big, delicious and made with Montana flour directly from Wheat Montana Farms outside of Bozeman. With three bakery locations in Western Montana serving decadent treats, recommend your clients stretch their legs by stop and grab something to go.

Locations: 2520 South 3rd Street West, Missoula, 406.327.0900; 8800 Truck Stop Road, Missoula, 406.728.8182; 405 South Main Street, Kalispell, 406.257.6530

 

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If your FIT itinerary has your clients driving through Montana’s Bitterroot Valley—a region I highly recommend exploring, especially for its history, scenery and small towns—be sure to include a stop at Valley Drug and Variety Store in Stevensville. A true old-fashioned western soda fountain drugstore, they serve Montana’s Wilcoxson’s Ice Cream and is a worthy stop when traveling through this region of Montana.

Locations: 301 Main Street, Stevensville, 406.777.5591

 

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Big Dipper Ice Cream is a star in the state with fast moving lines often 10 – 20 people deep (completely worth the wait) at the Missoula shop. Luckily, they also have an ice cream truck that scoops up their assorted flavors at various locations around Missoula. Plus, if you’re dining at local restaurants around Montana, chances are you’ll see Big Dipper Ice Cream on the dessert menu.

Location: 631 South Higgins, Missoula, 406.543.5722

 

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Bursting onto the scene a few years ago, Sweet Peaks Ice Cream is quickly becoming a Montana favorite with locations in Whitefish, Kalispell, Bigfork and Missoula.

Locations: 420 North Higgins, Missoula, 406.549.0028; 604 Electric Avenue, Bigfork, 406.257.0841; 343 Main Street, Kalispell, 406.257.1102; 419 1/2 Third Street, Whitefish, 406.862.4668

 

Photo by Tia Troy

(Photo credit: Tia Troy)

The Polebridge Mercantile, known for their huckleberry macaroons, has two locations: the original location is in the small community of Polebridge just outside Glacier National Park in an area known as the North Fork, while the second location is the Polebridge Bakery at Stumptown Market in downtown Whitefish.

Locations: Polebridge Mercantile: western edge of Glacier National Park about 35 miles north of Columbia Falls on Highway 486 which turns into North Fork Road; Polebridge Bakery: 12 Spokane Avenue, Whitefish, 406.858.0264

If you would like more information on delicious and fun culinary options for an itinerary through Western Montana or need help planning an itinerary, contact Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager for assistance.

See you in the ice cream line,
RF

3 Ways to Watch Montana Wildlife

Western Montana’s Glacier Country is comprised of millions of acres of public land that is home to 83 species of mammals and 393 species of birds. For nature photographers, bird watchers or for those who simply enjoy watching wildlife in their natural environment, our scenic and beautiful region will not disappoint group travel tours and foreign independent travelers.

Looking north to the Mission Valley from Missoula

Looking north to the Mission Valley from Missoula

Curious black bear (Photo credit: Tim Rains - NPS)

Curious black bear (Photo credit: Tim Rains – NPS)

For those new to Big Sky Country, these three ways of watching Montana wildlife are sure to provide your clients with memorable wildlife-viewing experiences.

1) Glacier National Park
Nestled in the area known as the Crown of the Continent, this gem is one of America’s top 10 favorite national parks. Glacier National Park is one of the most diverse and intact ecosystems in the world and its diversity creates great year-round Montana travel opportunities to view watchable wildlife like grizzly bears, black bears, moose, elk, mule deer, whitetail deer, bighorn sheep and mountain goat living in their natural habitat.

Hidden Lake Lookout in Glacier National Park (Photo credit: Nicholas Parker)

Hidden Lake Lookout in Glacier National Park (Photo credit: Nicholas Parker)

Tips for your clients: Safety is important when watching wildlife—for you and for the animals. Remind your clients to never approach wildlife and instead suggest that they use a binoculars or a telephoto lens. Animal lovers often want to get closer, however, this puts people in danger and can habituate animals to humans and leads to aggressive and unsafe situations. See more tips on safely viewing wildlife here.

Take a good pair of binoculars with you (Photo credit: Jacob W. Frank – NPS)

Take a good pair of binoculars with you (Photo credit: Jacob W. Frank – NPS)

Viewing hot spots:

  • Goat Lick: On U.S. Highway 2 between West Glacier and East Glacier Park, this natural mineral lick attracts mountain goats in early summer.
  • Logan Pass: Located at the top of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, bighorn sheep and mountain goats frequent this area. When planning a trip to Glacier National Park, keep in mind that the road opens in mid-June and closes in late-September, weather dependent. For the latest road updates, visit www.glaciermt.com/gtsr.
  • Many Glacier Valley: Between the small town of Babb on the east side of Glacier National Park and Many Glacier Lodge at Swiftcurrent Lake, elk, deer, grizzly bear, black bear, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats travel this corridor as they cross the road from the mountains to Lake Sherburne. This road is open as weather permits.
A favorite hangout for wildlife near Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park (Photo credit: Nicholas Parker)

A favorite hangout for wildlife near Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park
(Photo credit: Nicholas Parker)

Access and fees: Glacier National Park has various park pass opportunities from predetermined fee-free days to single vehicle passes and group tour commercial passes. Vehicle size restrictions do apply in some areas. For more details: visit Glacier National Park’s fee page.

If your itinerary includes visiting several federal land areas, the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass (America the Beautiful Pass) allows travelers entry into more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This $80 annual non-transferable pass is available to everyone and can be purchased online, obtained in person at a federal recreation site or by calling 1-888-ASK USGS (1-888-275-8747), Ext. 3 (hours of operation are: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. MST).

2) National Wildlife Refuges
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operates the National Wildlife Refuge system which is a network of habitats that benefits wildlife and provide outdoor experiences for wildlife observation, including birding, photography and interpretation. Glacier Country has several refuges that offer unparalleled watchable wildlife opportunities.

National Bison Range (located between Dixon and Ravalli) There are two main drives for visitors: Red Sleep Mountain Drive—the longer and steeper of the two—is open from mid-May to early October while  the Winter Drive is open year-round. The visitor center is a great starting point with displays, restrooms and bookstore that is typically open daily from mid-May to early October but has limited hours during the winter season. For large groups, be sure to schedule your arrival ahead of time with refuge personnel.

Wildlife: bison, black bear, bald eagles, meadowlark, elk, whitetail deer, mule deer, coyote, antelope, mountain lion and muskrat.

New vehicles restrictions as of 2015: Due to the steepness of roads and tightness of switchbacks, no vehicles over 30 feet in length are allowed on Red Sleep Mountain Drive or Prairie Drive. They may access the paved roads to the day use area and visitor center as well as the shorter West Loop. Also, for safety reasons, motorcycles and bicycles are not allowed to travel on the graveled scenic drives. They may access the visitor center and day use areas along paved roads.

Bison grazing on the National Bison Range (Photo credit: Stefanie Nordberg)

Bison grazing on the National Bison Range (Photo credit: Stefanie Nordberg)

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge (Stevensville) Located in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge provides four distinct opportunities for wildlife observation and photography: the wildlife viewing area, the refuge headquarters and visitor center, the Kenai Nature Trail and along Wildfowl Lane, the county road that runs through the refuge. These viewing areas and trails are accessible for all abilities, making this scenic refuge a great place to add to itineraries for all generations and group sizes. Be sure to tell your clients that dawn and dusk are peak times to see wildlife when they are most active, as well as experience colorful sunrises and sunsets. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday (October – April) and open seven days a week (May – September). Small and large vehicle parking is available.

Wildlife: herons, waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, flycatchers, swallows, butterflies, dragonflies, whitetail deer, yellow-pine chipmunk, northern pocket gopher, meadow vole, porcupine, striped skunk, muskrat and beaver.

For a sneak peak, visit the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge Flickr site.

Dusk at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Dusk at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges (Pablo) Nestled in the Mission Valley, both the Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges provide outstanding opportunities for wildlife observation, photography and recreation which make these stops good for year-round itineraries. Spring, summer and fall always have an abundance of birds either flying through or nesting but winter is the only time to view snowy owls. This geographical region, specifically these two refuges, serves as their winter habitat. During the warmer seasons, the snowy owl flies toward the polar north.

Wildlife: loons, ducks, bald eagles, snow geese, tundra swans, hawks and snowy owls.

For maps of viewing areas, parking and trails, download the public use brochure.

Swan River National Wildlife Refuge (south of Bigfork) The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge lies along the southern end of Swan Lake with the Swan Mountains to the east and the Mission Mountains to the west. The Swan and Mission Mountain Ranges provide important habitat for deer, elk, moose and bear which can occasionally be seen on the refuge in the spring and summer. Right off Highway 83, there is an accessible information kiosk with interpretive signage and viewing platform within a short distance of the parking area. While this refuge is open throughout the year, the months of April – November are the best times to add this location to wildlife focused itineraries as the variety and quantity of animals is much higher.

Wildlife: waterfowl, black bear, bald eagles, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, grizzly bear, muskrat, sandhill cranes and blue herons.

For maps of viewing areas, parking and trails, download the public use brochure.

Tips for your clients: Wildlife like cooler weather. While they can be seen throughout the day, morning and evenings are the best times to see them, particularly dawn to mid-morning and  5 p.m. to dusk, especially during July, August and September. Montana’s morning and evening light is also best for taking photographs.

Access and fees: National wildlife refuges have various fees based on group size. Commercial passes may apply. Vehicle size restrictions for group tour buses apply in some areas. For more details, be sure to visit the refuge websites listed above.

3) Montana State Parks
Montana State Parks has two nature-based parks in Western Montana where wildlife viewing are unique experiences well-worth the trek (or boat-ride). Group fees apply for groups of 30 or more.

Wild Horse Island State Park is the largest island on the west side of Flathead lake and offers visitors an old growth Ponderosa pine forest, great hiking trails and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities that may include bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles and falcons, as well as a herd of wild horses.

Open year-round, this park is only accessible by boat or kayak. Kwa Taq Nuk Resort in Polson and Far West Tours in Lakeside offer boat tours to Wild Horse Island. The island is a great site to add to itineraries between May and October, but keep in mind that some guided tours are only available between June and September due to water levels.

Lone Pine State Park, home to whitetail deer, songbirds, bald eagles and falcons, sits on 270 acres atop a mountain vista overlooking providing a stunning view of the Flathead Valley and has 7.5 miles of trails available for recreation. This park is perfect for individual or group itineraries as is offers services and amenities for all generations and abilities: ADA accessible, organized children’s activities, equipment rental, established fire pits and picnic shelter.

Open year-round, this park is 4.6 miles west of Kalispell and features a newly remodeled visitor center with interpretive displays and gift shop.

A primitive and adventurous way to view wildlife is to visit one of Montana State Park’s many wildlife management areas. Where nature-based parks have a visitor focus, wildlife management areas focus on wildlife habitat conservation for a myriad of species including lynx, mountain lion, elk, mule and whitetail deer, black bear, grizzly bear, mountain lion, bald eagles, waterfowl and moose. One thing to keep in mind: while these areas are open year-round, they have no services.

Momma deer and her fawn

Momma deer and her fawn

Tips for your clients: If you see wildlife along a road and want to safely view them, be aware of surrounding traffic when you slow down and only use designated pullouts or broad road-side shoulders. Do not block traffic by stopping in the middle of the road. If you are within 100 yards (300 feet) of the animals, stay in the vehicle or use it as a barrier to watch from and keep small children and pets inside the vehicle.

Read animal’s behavior just like one would read a person’s body language–twitchy, nervous or aggressive behavior is a sign you are too close and should back away. The objective is to watch wild animals in their natural environment, rather than to see how they react to people within it. Use field guides to help with identification and understanding the animal’s behavior.

Access and fees: Montana State Parks have various fees based on group size. Commercial passes may apply. Vehicle size restrictions for group tour buses apply in some areas. For more details, be sure to visit the park websites listed above.

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Contact Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager for assistance planning the perfect watchable wildlife itinerary.

Happy wildlife watching,

RF

 

4 Ways to Experience Western Montana’s Breweries

While Montana is known for its stunning scenery, it’s also becoming a popular craft beer destination. More than 20 breweries in Glacier Country are serving up Montana-inspired beer by the names of Cold Smoke ®, Yaak Attack, Dry Fly, Face Plant, Moose Drool and Clothing Optional, visitors to our region are certain to discover plenty of palette-pleasing malted beverages that perfectly capture Montana’s many flavors and diverse offerings. Plus, each brewery in Big Sky Country is committed to using Montana-grown ingredients like malted grains, as well as huckleberries and honey.

GCT_Kettlehouse Tasting Room

A visit to brewery taprooms and brew pubs are a great way for individuals and groups to taste the flavors of Montana, as well as mingle with the locals. And in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, there are four distinct and fun ways to experience breweries.

1) Guided brewery bus tours

Brewery bus tours are a fun, affordable and safe way to experience multiple breweries and pubs in one day. This is a great way for a few people or a group up to 12 to ride in comfort on a guided bus tour to Montana breweries to taste award-winning beer. Tap Room Tours, located in Missoula, has scheduled and custom tours (group rates available) throughout Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley. These guided bus tours allow riders to take in the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley while making stops at breweries in the valley’s charming small towns of Lolo, Stevensville, Hamilton and Darby.

Some tours also include distilleries, providing attendees the option to taste locally made whiskey, gin and vodka.

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2) Group bicycle tours

For your clients who are looking to do something fun and out of the ordinary, group bicycle tours are the perfect activity. Thirst Gear operates a 15-person bicycle where the riders provide the pedal power that leads the bike-like vehicle to the best breweries and watering holes in downtown Missoula. Custom tours are available.

Pedal powered beer tour.

Pedal powered beer tour.

3) Brewfests

A favorite activity for locals and visitors alike is attending a festival or brewfest. During Western Montana’s warm season, it is not hard to find special events celebrating seasons, holidays and locally grown or homemade food/beverages, artisan wares and crafts. These events are highly recommended, as they often serve a selection of craft brews. Brewfests, in particular, have many breweries serving on-site, allowing your clients to hop from tent to tent and taste a variety of Montana beer along the way.

Visitors can find festivals and brewfests year-round in Western Montana: Winter Brewfest (Missoula), Tamarack Festival and Brewfest (Seeley Lake), Bitterroot Brewfest (Hamilton), Bigfork Brewfest (Bigfork), Montana Brewers Fall Festival (Kalispell) and Summer S.N.O.W. Bus Brewfest (Whitefish).

Microbrews, music and fun.

Microbrews, music and fun.

Visit Glacier Country’s event calendar for more information.

4) Self-guided brewery tour

For clientele that want to meander and explore along the way, self-guided tours are the way to go. The Montana Brewers Association Trail Map is a great online tool and lets users add stops to an itinerary as a resource. Clients and FIT travelers can open the map on their mobile device or print their route and take it along with them.

An anchor of downtown Whitefish - Great Northern Brewery.

An anchor of downtown Whitefish – Great Northern Brewery.

To add to the fun, we recommend buying a Montana Brewery Passport that’s available at the each of Montana’s craft breweries or can be purchased online, making it an interesting way to track which one visitors experience by having the passport stamped.

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Always remind your clients to be safe – drink responsibly and have a designated driver for a self-guided tour.

Notable information:

If you are not a beer enthusiast but you really like the atmosphere, breweries in Montana have delicious homemade non-alcoholic beverages like flavored soda, ginger ale and root beer. My favorite is Kalispell Brewing Company root beer.

Huckleberry soda at Lolo Peak Brewery.

Huckleberry soda at Lolo Peak Brewery.

Flights (also known as samplers) are small samples of several beers and are very popular if you are unsure which beverage to order.

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Many breweries love to share their story and offer guided tours to groups.

Montana’s breweries are legally allowed to be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and each consumer is limited to 48 ounces in a single day.

Visit our webpage or contact Debbie Picard, Tourism Sales Manager, for a complete list of breweries in the Glacier Country region to help plan your itinerary.

Cheers to beer!

RF

Winter in Montana’s Glacier National Park = A Snowy Paradise

Winter in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is an extraordinary time in a very special place. Like many areas throughout the great Rocky Mountains, we are surrounded by public lands that are abundant in recreational opportunities. In Montana, we have something no one else has–Glacier National Park. Contrary to popular belief, Montana’s Glacier National Park is open year-round and is one of my favorite places to visit and recreate during the winter.

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Fun winter day in Glacier National Park.

With fewer visitors to Glacier National Park in the winter, the pace slows down but the spectacular beauty continues to awe and inspire.

Winter views at Lake McDonald.

Winter views at Lake McDonald.

Beautiful no matter how you see it.

Beautiful no matter how you see it.

The most popular cold weather activities are cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. During January, February and March, the National Park Service offers ranger-led guided snowshoe walks where rangers are able to share some of the wonders of winter in Glacier National Park with participants. Wildlife viewing, nature photography, walking and camping are all things visitors can do on a brisk clear blue sky day.

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Camping at Apgar Campground.

Visiting Glacier National Park:

  • Always check with park headquarters to find out if there are any special events, necessary permits, closures or advisories
  • Remind clientele to be aware of their surroundings and follow safety practices for wildlife, weather and terrain

What to wear? The best clothing advice for recreating in Montana is to wear layers of breathable, moisture-resistant clothing that can be added or removed as the weather changes. Top off the layers with a winter coat, snow pants, hat, gloves and warm boots.

Proper clothing choices make all weather conditions enjoyable.

Proper clothing choices make all weather conditions enjoyable.

Where to stay, eat and drink? Winter is a quiet season in and around the immediate vicinity of Glacier National Park. The quaint cozy accommodations and eateries along U.S. Highway 2 will keep your clients warm and happy with friendly locals eager to help.

The community of East Glacier Park is located along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park and offers a laid back opportunity to live like a local.

Recommendations:

Lodging:

Guide services:

The western and southern communities are Columbia Falls, Coram, Essex, Hungry Horse, Martin City and West Glacier.

Recommendations:

Lodging near Glacier National Park:

  • Izaak Walton Inn, Essex: The Izaak Walton has a variety of lodging accommodations, including inn rooms, train cabooses and cabins. The cabooses have bathrooms (including showers), kitchens and decks that provide views of the surrounding forest and mountain peaks.
  • Meadow Lake Resort, Columbia Falls: Full-service year-round lodging including inn rooms, condominiums, vacation homes, evening dining and relaxing spa services. Their on-site outdoor hot tub also provides stunning views of Montana’s star-filled night sky.
  • North Forty Resort, Columbia Falls: This 40-acre family owned resort offers log cabins with handcrafted log furnishings, gas fireplaces and full kitchens.
  • Reclusive Moose Cabins, Columbia Falls: These cozy cabins share a community fire pit area in the evening where on a clear night, the big Montana sky is perfect for stargazing at its best.
  • Abbot Valley Homestead, Martin City: A unique and quaint lodging option, these renovated Abbott Valley homestead cabins are located across the working family farm.
  • Historic Tamarack Lodge, West Glacier: The lodge, originally built in 1907 and updated in 2003, maintains the original oversized natural stone fireplace and lodge pole pine architecture, providing a warm and cozy place to spend a cold winter evening.

Dining and libations:

Guide services:

  • Glacier Adventure Guides, Columbia Falls: These experienced guides offer short and multi-day backcountry skiing, cross-country and snowshoe services.
  • Izaak Walton Inn, Essex: The inn offers cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals for their 33 kilometers of groomed cross-country and skate skiing trails. In addition, they provide guide services for novice and advanced recreationists with tours that go into Glacier National Park.

If your clients are willing to stay a little further away from the park, the village of Bigfork, city of Kalispell and resort town of Whitefish are great options and are all within 30 to 45 minutes of Glacier National Park’s west entrance.

What to drive? Winter means snowy roads so be sure to suggest all-wheel or four-wheel drive transportation in the form of a medium to large size SUV/crossover vehicle. Rental car companies can be found at the Glacier Park International Airport, Whitefish and Kalispell, with each company carrying a wide variety of vehicles.

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SUVs are my favorite form of transportation year-round.

Insider tips:

  • Be sure to add Apgar Campground to the itinerary. This is the largest campground in the park and is open year-round. It also has a public dock that provides unbelievable views of Lake McDonald and the mountain peaks of Garden Wall, Mount Cannon and Mount Brown.
  • The variety of accommodations include rustic lodges and cabins, vacation homes, Swiss-style chalets and renovated railroad cars.
  •  Affordability of winter accommodations in the canyon corridor is very reasonable and some have outdoor recreational equipment for guests to rent. These services are often bundled together in vacation deals with other services like meals and spa treatments.

Welcome to our winter wonderland,

RF

Top 5 FIT Attractions – Montana’s U.S. Highway 93

Driving through Western Montana’s Glacier Country is one of my favorite activities. Montana’s Rocky Mountains, green rolling valleys, rivers and lakes, coupled with our charming small towns, make every turn in the road an experience to remember. In fact, the scenery here is so beautiful that driving for pleasure is the second most desired activity for visitors coming to Montana, according to the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research. For both domestic and international visitors, U.S. Highway 93 is a highly recommended route.

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The view at the St. Ignatius Hill Rest Area, between the towns of Arlee and St. Ignatius, is beautiful. It borders the National Bison Range to the west.

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Western Montana sunsets always take my breath away.

Weaving its way through Arizona, Nevada, Idaho and Montana, U.S. Highway 93 enters Montana at Lost Trail Pass, traveling north into the Bitterroot Valley before arriving in Missoula —Montana’s second largest city. From Missoula, it continues north through the Flathead Indian Reservation and follows the western shore of Flathead Lake before taking travelers through Kalispell, Whitefish and Eureka where it ends at the Canadian border.

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For your clients who are interested in foreign independent travel (FIT) options in Montana, there are wonderful authentic experiences to be found along this route.

Here are 5 of my top things to do along Montana’s U.S. Highway 93:

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1) Lake Como Recreation Area

Located just off Highway 93 near Darby, Lake Como is a great place for your clients to stretch their legs and drink in the gorgeous views of the Bitterroot Valley. This beautiful mountain lake features a beach, swimming area and trailhead that has a ¼-mile paved interpretive trail and a 7-mile-long trail open for hiking and mountain biking.

Insider tip: Lake Como is one of the most stunning locations along Highway 93. If possible, time it to catch the sunrise light up the nearby mountain peaks.

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A beautiful sunrise view looking west from the Lake Como campground.

2) Travelers’ Rest State Park

Sitting just off Highway 93 in Lolo, Travelers’ Rest State Park is the perfect location to walk in the footsteps of Montana’s cultural and natural history. This historic site was used for centuries by native peoples and served as an intricate network of travel, trade and culture. The Bitterroot Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Spokane tribes traveled throughout this region to gather supplies and resources needed to survive the long Rocky Mountain winters.

In addition to serving for centuries as a gathering place for American Indians, this state park is the only archaeologically verified campsite of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, Travelers’ Rest is a notable location along the Lewis & Clark Trail and was visited twice by the Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery.

Insider tip: During spring, summer and fall, visitors are well-advised to bring binoculars or a zoom camera as the park is a rich bird habitat that’s home to more than 115 recorded species. During winter, catch an installment of the park’s Winter Storytelling Series where America Indian storytellers bring their history and culture to life.

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The Travelers’ Rest Visitor Center and Museum on a sunny afternoon.

3) Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana

Located next to the Ninepipes National Wildlife Refuge between St. Ignatius and Ronan, Ninepipes Museum is a stop your international clientele will never forget. A hidden gem, the museum has beautiful 360-degree Mission Valley views that will make them want to stay forever.

Named after Chief Joseph Ninepipes, a Bitterroot Salish chief, the museum was built to help visitors discover and memorialize the history and culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation and early Montana. It contains photos, artifacts and antiques representing more than a century of life in Montana.

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Set as the landscape of Ninepipes Museum is the majestic Mission Mountains.

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One of many galleries in the museum where you experience a taste of the rich history of the Mission Valley.

Insider tip: After touring the museum, walk across the parking lot to Ninepipes Lodge for breakfast, lunch or dinner in their dining room. The views are spectacular.

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No caption needed. The view from the dining room at Ninepipes Lodge.

4) Polson Hill Lookout

Hands down, this location and view takes my breath away every time I see it and I’m sure your clients will have the same feeling. This lookout is located at the top of Polson Hill (just south of Polson) on the east side of U.S. Highway 93. The overlook features a paved walkway to two interpretive sites–one covered and one not. The view looking north out over Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, is stunning with the blue green hues of the glacial water from Glacier National Park and the majestic peaks of Montana’s great Rocky Mountains.

Insider tip: If you’re looking to bolster your itinerary, suggest that your clients stop and pick up a sweet treat to enjoy while drinking in the views from the lookout. The Windmill Village, located at 26715 U.S. Highway 93 in Ravalli (south of stop #3), is my favorite Montana bakery where everything is homemade from family recipes. My favorite: the doughnuts. (The pies and cookies are a close second).

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Definitely one of my favorite views of Flathead Lake.

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From the moment I pull into the parking area, I can’t help but start snapping pictures of this view.

5) Conrad Mansion Museum

A charming and unique museum located in Kalispell, the Conrad Mansion is the most beautifully preserved pre-1900 mansion in Montana and has more than 90 percent of the original Charles Conrad family furnishings. Charles Conrad, a founder of Kalispell, arrived in the Flathead Valley in 1891 and established the Kalispell Townsite Company and Conrad National Bank. He built the beautiful shingle style Victorian home for his family in 1895 in what was then a wilderness. The mansion sits on the original town site and has spectacular views of the Flathead Valley and the Swan Mountain range.

Insider tip: During the Christmas Season, your clients will enjoy the beautifully decorated Mansion while learning about the Christmas traditions of the Conrad family. 100-year-old quilts are also on display during the Christmas tours only.

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This museum and its grounds are beautifully maintained.

For clients who are looking for a scenic route between Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, U.S. Highway 93 is one of the most scenic routes in Montana.

For more information on planning a FIT itinerary along the Montana section of U.S. Highway 93, contact our Tourism Sales Manager, Debbie Picard.

See you on the road,

RF

Top 5 American Indian FIT Experiences – Montana’s Blackfeet Nation

Western Montana’s Glacier Country is home to the Blackfeet Nation – one of Montana’s seven American Indian reservations. Nestled along the eastern edge of Glacier National Park and with the Canadian border to the north, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is rich in culture, abundant in beauty and welcoming to visitors from across the world.

Welcome to Blackfeet Nation

For your clients who are interested in foreign independent travel (FIT), there are ample opportunities for authentic experiences from the perspective of the First Nations.

Here are 5 of my favorite things to do in Montana’s Blackfeet Country:

1. Blackfeet Outfitters

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A scenic guided tour with Blackfeet Outfitters’ owner, Alger Swingley.

For clients interested in outdoor adventure on some of the most beautiful American Indian lands in the world, Blackfeet Outfitters offers guided tours on 1.5 million acres of the reservation. By taking a tour with Blackfeet Outfitters, attendees are able to explore areas of the reservation that are not accessible to regular visitors. Blackfeet Outfitters offers guided 4×4 tours, fishing and rafting.

Overlook Area

One of my new favorite rest stops is the St. Mary Scenic Overlook on MT Hwy 89.

Insider Tip:

  • Guided tours are a great way to ensure all activities are following tribal recreation laws and can give participants a first-person view and perspective on the traditions of the Blackfeet people. Tribal recreation permits are required for all visitors and can be purchased at various stores, including:
    • Mary’s Leaning Tree Cafe (Babb, MT)
    • Montana’s Duck Lake Lodge, (Babb, MT)
    • Glacier Family Foods (Browning, MT)
    • Kipps Guest Ranch (Browning, MT)
    • Teeples IGA Grocery Store (Browning, MT)
    • K & D Implements (Cardsdale, Alberta, CA)
    • Smiths Bed & Breakfast (Columbia Falls, MT)
    • Ben Franklin (Cut Bank, MT)
    • Bear Track Convenience Store (East Glacier, MT)
    • Scheels All Sports (Great Falls, MT)
    • Bing ‘N Bobs Sporting Goods (Havre, MT)
    • Heart Butte Trading Post (Heart Butte, MT)
    • Snappy’s Sport Center (Kalispell, MT)
    • Sportsmen Ski Haus, (Kalispell, MT)
    • Ronan Sports & Western Wear (Ronan, MT)
    • Lakestream Fly Shop (Whitefish, MT)
    • Stumptown Anglers (Whitefish, MT)
    • Glacier Raft Company, (West Glacier, MT)
  • Blackfeet Outfitters operates out of Babb, Montana. For unique and scenic lodging, check out The Stonehouse at Duck Lake. The panoramic views of Glacier National Park and the open vistas of the Cut Bank are stunning.

2. Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery

Heritage Center Image Front Sign

Heritage Center Image Front

The center is a great place to hear traditional stories and shop for Blackfeet artisan creations, such as jewelry and paintings.

A stop at the Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery will not disappoint clientele who enjoy learning about Montana’s Blackfeet history. The facility is an authentic cultural center and art gallery located in Browning, Montana. It is open daily in the summer and is handicap accessible. Plus, admission is free.

Insider Tip:

  • Suggest your clients call ahead to the center to find out when tribal storytellers will be at the center. Listening to a Blackfeet elder share a story passed down through many generations will bring to life tribal traditions and culture.

3. Museum of the Plains Indian

Museum of Plains Indian

The Museum of the Plains Indian, administered by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the U.S. Department of the Interior, exhibits the creative achievements of North American artists and craftspeople. A permanent exhibit displays artifacts of the Northern Plains Indians and two special galleries feature changing presentations. The museum is open year-round and has two distinct seasons of operation:

  • Summer: June 1 – September 30 (admission charge; open Tuesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Winter: October 1 – May 30 (free admission but closed weekends; 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)

Insider Tip:

  • Encourage your clients to visit the gift shop to discover and shop for Blackfeet-crafted mementos of their trip. Most of the items in the gift shop are made by tribal artists and Blackfeet painters are commonly on-site until 3 p.m.
  • The museum is located right next to the newest hotel property on the Blackfeet Reservation, the Holiday Inn Express.

4. Glacier Gateway Outfitters

Glacier Outfitting

This trail ride will allow visitors to observe a landscape setting that has not changed in over 200 years.

Owned and operated by Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame inductee, Truman “Mouse” Hall and his family, this authentic old-fashioned horse adventure takes riders on trails and terrain on the Blackfeet Nation near Glacier National Park. Blackfeet guides will lead guests along maintained trails of mountainous terrain and tell stories of the land and uses of native plants as you ride. This is a unique Montana American Indian cowboy experience.

Insider Tip:

  • Having proper riding attire such as long pants and shoes that cover your entire foot will make the trail ride more enjoyable.
  • Don’t forget bug spray, bottled water and your camera!

5. Sun Tours

Sun Tour

Tours depart from the east and west side of Glacier National Park.

For a tour over Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road from a Blackfeet perspective, Sun Tours is not to be missed. These guided tours discuss Glacier National Park’s natural features and points of interest as they are relevant to the Blackfeet Nation, past and present. All guides are enrolled members and residents of the Blackfeet Nation and are knowledgeable of Blackfeet tribal history and culture.

For more information on planning a FIT itinerary to the Blackfeet Nation, contact our Tourism Sales Manager, Debbie Picard.

Blackfeet Country welcomes all,

RF

RVing – A scenic way to explore Western Montana

Summer and fall in Western Montana’s Glacier Country are wonderful seasons to experience a warm weather adventure – specifically in Montana’s great outdoors. RVing is a popular pastime in the United States and as an RV traveler myself who spends plenty of time traveling Montana in my Class C RV, it’s a mode of travel I highly recommend.

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Leaving Missoula with my RV loaded and ready for a weekend adventure.

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Many area gas stations have places for RVs to fuel up, prep and empty waste water.

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My Class C RV allows me to take my home with me wherever I venture.

For clients who like to camp but prefer modern conveniences, recreational vehicles (RVs) are the perfect way to drive, park, camp and discover the Montana’s outdoor offerings. Foreign independent travelers (FIT) can easily fly into one of our two international airports (Missoula International Airport and Glacier Park International Airport), rent a RV and begin their journey.

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Highway pullouts often have plenty of space for me take a break, stretch my legs and even prepare a quick bite to eat in my galley kitchen before I move on down the road.

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Polson Hill is a beautiful scenic point overlooking Flathead Lake.

Airports:

RV rental companies:

Campsite locations and reservations:

  • Private campgrounds are a reliable way to ensure your clients have the perfect spot along every stop of their adventure. Glacier Country Tourism has a complete list of private and public campgrounds in the region, providing a quick reference for you to plan the perfect itinerary.
  • State and federal land campgrounds are a great option for spontaneous RV enthusiasts. Federal public land camping includes Glacier National Park and sites managed by U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service. State public land camping refers to sites managed by Montana State Parks. To make planning a Montana RV trip easier, there is one website to help plan itineraries on federal land and one website for Montana State Parks. Most federal public land campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis while up to 75 percent of state parks can be paid for and reserved for up to nine months in advance.
  • Tribal land campgrounds are owned and managed by tribal governments on both the Flathead and Blackfeet reservations to which they are located. Services and availability vary.
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It is not hard to drink in the beautiful blue skies and fresh mountain air when exploring Western Montana

Insider tips:

How to choose the perfect RV campsites for your itinerary:

  • Public land campgrounds are great if your client wants to park and camp in America’s great outdoors. They often are located in picturesque areas or along lakes and rivers. Campsites in these areas often do not have RV hook-ups for water and electricity so travelers will need to rely on power and water resources located in the RV.
  • Private campgrounds have more modern and complete facilities including water, electricity, Wi-Fi, level parking sites, laundry facilities, showers, picnic tables, etc. Some even have playground equipment, pools and recreation buildings with games to enjoy.
  • Tribal campgrounds are another option to consider for RV camping and services vary by campground.
  • Research specific parks ahead of time to ensure they have campsites to accommodate the size of RV being driven. Plus, this will guarantee your clients have a space once they arrive.

Recommendations for you and your clients to consider:

  • RVs do not require a special driver’s license but drivers should be comfortable driving large vehicles.
  • Glacier Country Tourism has a great RV itinerary for you to consider. Our Tourism Sales Manager can help you build one to offer just the right experience.
  • Rental RVs come in several sizes. The smaller the recreational vehicle, the easier it is to drive and navigate. Larger vehicles have more interior space and amenities your clients may appreciate.
  • Consider the type of camp facilities and hook-ups your clients may find most convenient.
  • Camping in the great outdoors means sharing that environment with wildlife. As with any outside recreation activity, be sure your clients follow safety precautions by being aware and respectful of wildlife.
  • Make sure your clients pay close attention during the RV orientation so they are comfortable with the operation and maintenance of the vehicle.
  • When renting an RV, be sure the company you work with has the appropriate bath, bedroom and kitchen accessories and that they are included with the RV rental to ensure only that only a quick stop at the grocery store is needed prior to beginning their Montana adventure.

Our campfire awaits,

RF