Category Archives: FIT

WINTER FUN IN WESTERN MONTANA WITH GLACIER ADVENTURE GUIDES

Western Montana’s high season for visitors is summer, and our most recent brought record-breaking numbers to Glacier National Park and the surrounding region. We get it—summer splendor in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is an unmatched and unforgettable experience. We do, however, have a little secret to share with you: Winter here is spectacular. If your clients are winter enthusiasts who like to partake in the wonder and awe of unspoiled nature (without the crowds) and commune in a setting unlike any other in the lower 48, we’ve got just the place. Visiting Western Montana in the winter feels a little like you have the whole region—and an entire national park—all to yourself. The best way to experience some of this wonder of winter in Western Montana is with the help of a guide. Glacier Adventure Guides, one of our local outfitters and winter fun providers, has something for everyone year-round, but in the winter they offer up quite the memory-making adventure.

Winter wildlife. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing tours are offered in Glacier National Park and the surrounding wilderness areas. For beginner and intermediate skill levels alike, tours travel along ice-capped streams and incredible frozen waterfalls. Journey to a designated location for lunch and warm drinks. Catch a glimpse of the winter wildlife and relish in a place of solitude and majesty.

A day of cross-country skiing.

 

Ice Climbing
As the premiere ice climbing guides in the Flathead Valley, Glacier Adventure Guides offers an adventure for new and experienced climbers. Based on your ability level, Glacier Adventure Guides will take you out to explore the best ice around. Strap on some crampons, grab an ice axe and your guide will help you have a fun, safe time finding a line to ice climbing success.

Climbing success. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Snowshoeing
One of our most popular (and easiest) winter adventures is snowshoeing. Whether it’s a group tour, affinity group or family outing, Glacier National Park provides a magical experience. Snowshoe among the cedars and western larch, around frozen lakes and crystalized waterfalls to a scenic lunch destination, followed by hot drinks and group photos. Each trip is tailored to your group’s skill and fitness levels.

Snowshoeing fun in Glacier National Park.

Winter Camping
For the client who wants something a little more extreme, try a customizable multiday winter camping trip into Glacier National Park. Travel in by snowshoe or cross-country ski and see the frozen beauty of the park. Sleep in tents on travel days and then build an igloo upon arrival at the campsite. Take day tours of the area based on the itinerary set by your guide. All guides are certified in mountain travel and rescue, along with avalanche training and wilderness first aid.

Winter camping. Photo: Glacier Adventure Guides

Benefits of going with a guide:

  •           Gear available for rent
  •           Winter travel and camping techniques explained
  •           Cross-country techniques can be refined (kick turns, pole use, etc.)
  •           Snowshoeing techniques explained
  •           Avalanche awareness
  •           Trip and route planning
  •           Safety with experienced guides
  •           Leave-no-trace principles explained

For more information on group fun in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country Tour Operators website. Or, if you need help with itinerary planning in Western Montana, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Bundle up in Montana,

DP

AGRITOURISM OFFERINGS IN WESTERN MONTANA

Niche markets are embraced here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, and we welcome visitors looking for new and fresh authentic experiences. We know that clients appreciate when tour operators have options that fit client interests. Agritourism is a niche market made for Montana. It takes the top two industries in the state—agriculture and tourism—and combines them into one of the fastest growing and flourishing markets around. Agritourism allows visitors to participate in a variety of agricultural activities, whether they’re churning cheese at a local cheese factory, herding cattle by horseback with real cowboys at a guest ranch or visiting a community farmers market. We’ve rounded up a few businesses that excel in agritourism offerings here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

The welcoming crew at Rich Ranch in Seeley Lake. Photo: Rich Ranch

Bitterroot Valley
Take a trip down the Bitterroot Valley and visit an emu ranch and learn how 90 percent of this prehistoric bird can be utilized for its oils, feathers, eggs and lean red meat at Wild Rose Emu Ranch. Tak a tour of one of the many dairies. At Huls Dairy learn about a state-of-the-art carousel and anaerobic digester that captures methane gas and produces energy for the dairy and the grid and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Enjoy a farm stay at ABC acres, and learn about the permaculture farmstead where regenerative agriculture is practiced with cows, pigs, goats and chickens. At Hidden Legend Winery, stop in for a tour and taste the mead—an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey.

Grazing cattle at ABC Acres in Hamilton.

Guest accommodations at ABC Acres.

Mission Valley
If your travels take you between Missoula and Kalispell, a must visit is Cheff Guest Ranch—nestled at the base of the Mission Mountains—guests can buck bales of hay, mend a fence or move stock on the ranch’s 15,000+ acres. A little farther north in Polson, stop in at Flathead Lake Cheese Company, a small creamery that creates artisan cheeses using fresh, locally sourced milk pasteurized with solar thermal heat.

Visit the tasting room at Flathead Lake Cheese Co.

Flathead Valley
Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the western U.S., even creating its own weather at times. While the west side of the lake is more arid, the east side is lush and green, and it’s the perfect climate for cultivating Flathead cherries and other produce offered at local roadside stands. Many orchards including The Orchard at Flathead Lake, invite visitors (by appointment) to walk the grounds. Stop in Lakeside at Purple Mountain Lavender and learn about making lavender oils and sachets. At Purple Frog Farms in Whitefish, learn the art of crop-sharing by lending a hand at pulling weeds from the hearty soil, and join in on a farm-to-table lunch or dinner.

Purple Frog Farms in Whitefish. Photo: Purple Frog Farms

Gorgeous lavender fields at Purple Mountain Lavender. Photo: Purple Mountain Lavender

Glacier Country Region

A tour of the region would not be complete without a visit to the magnificent Glacier National Park. Another must; take time to stop into the local farmers markets throughout the region for the freshest produce, meats, cheeses, breads and flowers. Many of our communities boast local craft breweries, cideries and distilleries utilizing Montana grains, hops, produce and local flavors.

Fresh produce at local farmers markets throughout the region.

Find additional suggestions for your agritourism itinerary here. For more information on where to stay throughout Western Montana, visit our tour operator website. If you need additional tour itinerary assistance, feel free to drop me a line—I’m always here to help.

Welcome to Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

DP

Top 6 Best Fall Hikes in Western Montana’s Glacier Country

Autumn has arrived in Western Montana and one of our favorite things to do during this magical time is hike. Home to thousands of miles of hiking trails that take visitors through more scenic beauty than imaginable, Western Montana’s Glacier Country is prime hiking country. Our hiking trails range from easy day hikes to multi-day backcountry treks which allow visitors the experience to see untouched beauty, breathe in fresh mountain air and explore our stunning mountain lakes and waterfalls.

If you’re not sure where to start for finding some amazing, easy and stunning day hikes, don’t worry, we’ve compiled our top 6 best fall hikes. These hikes are sure to provide your clients with an unforgettable Montana moment.

Blodgett Canyon

Blodgett Canyon is known for its incredible overlook and relatively easy hike to the summit. Photo courtesy of Hunter Day Photography (hunterday.photo/montana)

This stunning hike is located in the Bitterroot Mountains and is only a total of 3 miles round-trip. The trailhead is to the right of the parking area and easily accessible. Several benches are placed along the hike up. Stop and take in the incredible views, but keep going—you’re in for a treat at the top!

Mount Sentinel

Hikers are able to hike the “M” trail and oversee all of Missoula.

Hike “the M” for a breathtaking view of the Missoula Valley. Named for the large whitewashed rock “M” placed on the mountainside in 1908, this trail starts at the eastern edge of The University of Montana campus. This steep, zigzag path includes 11 switchbacks-with gains 620 feet of elevation in under a mile- is a little difficult but the views make it all the worthwhile.

Morrell Falls

Morrell Falls National Recreation Trail leads to the stunning Morrell Falls.

If you’re looking for a quick hike to a stunning waterfall, than look no further than Morrell Falls. Located at the base of the Swan Mountain Range, Morrell Falls is a jaw dropping waterfall at the end of a great hike with amazing views. Be sure to bring your camera for this one, you’ll want to capture all of the beauty.

Ross Creek Cedars

You will stand in awe of these cedars. Photo courtesy of Donnie Sexton.

Located in the Kootenai National Forest is a grove of western red cedars. Stroll along the trail for a truly awe-inspiring experience. Walk among the over 400-year-old western red cedars and enjoy all of information along this interpretive walking tour.

Holland Falls Nature Trail

The view of Holland Falls will be sure to take your breath away.

This popular and breathtaking hike follows along the shoreline of Holland Lake and gradually climbs to the base of the falls. The trail starts at the end of the parking area and continues straight for 1.6 miles. It’s great for groups in the Glacier National Park area that are looking for an easy hike with unforgettable views.

Avalanche Lake

Avalanche Lake is at the end of the 2 mile hike and the view is absolute perfection.

The trailhead is located a few miles east of Lake McDonald Lodge along the Going-to-the-Sun Road. It is a serene and breathtaking trail that winds through lush forest, along a pristine stream and inland through a northwest rain forest to a stunning alpine lake boasting sheer cliffs and waterfalls.

 Pro tips:

  1. It’s always a good idea to wear layers and comfortable, broken-in hiking shoes or boots. The weather can be a little fickle in the fall, and can change quickly. It’s best to be prepared with a rain jacket, just in case.
  2. Be bear aware! Make noise and carry bear spray. You’re in bear country, and no matter how wild you think you might be, we can assure you the wildlife have you beat. (It’s also never a good idea to try to feed the wildlife).
  3. Make room in your pack for water, snacks and a camera. It’s good to stay hydrated, and good to have a camera ready to capture your Montana moments.
  4. Always stay on the trail. Wandering Montana’s splendor is easy to do, but it’s important not to lose your way. We promise you won’t miss out on anything.
  5. Ask the locals. Montana is full of secrets and who better to ask than a Montanan?

If hiking is something your clients love to do, then they are in for a treat in Western Montana. We hope they are ready for an unforgettable experience, we promise they won’t be disappointed.

Happy Trials!
NG

GUEST POST: 4 WAYS TO CELEBRATE FALL AT TRIPLE CREEK RANCH

Located right here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country sits Triple Creek Ranch an all-inclusive guest ranch voted as the Best Hotel in the World by readers of Travel & Leisure, 2014. Fall is the perfect time to visit Triple Creek Ranch, where we offer some exciting complimentary programs that extend the value of our all-inclusive rates. If you can’t make it for 2017, be sure to put it on your calendar for 2018.

One of the many sculptures that greet you at Triple Creek Ranch.

Klicks for Chicks (October 11 – 16, 2017)
As the aspens turn gold and cover tremendous swaths of the mountainside with their shimmery glow, we know it is time to welcome our cowgirls for the annual Klicks for Chicks event. Join a high-spirited posse of gals for days in the saddle traversing the Montana wilderness that meet a fitting end with hearty fare, good-natured camaraderie and the plush comfort of a downy bed. For every “klick” (kilometer) ridden by every cowgirl, the ranch donates a dollar to Summit for Parkinson’s.

Klicks for chicks cowgirls.

Artist Workshop Weekend (October 19 – 23, 2017)
How better to spend a lovely autumn afternoon than learning how to paint or sculpt in a relaxed setting – tucked away on a Montana mountainside with friends and splendid inspiration? We provide the art supplies and our artist partners provide instruction. Featured artists for the fall workshop are Brent Cotton, Carol Hagan and Greg Kelsey.

Learn from featured artists at Artist Workshop Weekend 

Autumn Birding in the Bitterroot (October 26 – 30, 2017)
The Bitterroot Valley is a birder’s paradise. Wide ranges of species reside or migrate through this richly varied terrain. Celebrated birder Greg Miller will lead guests on daily outings over the mountains, through the woods, across the prairies, and along the rivers in search of favorite birds, wherever they may be. Greg’s specialties include identifying birds by their songs, and his charismatic personality was genially portrayed in the book and movie The Big Year. October days in Montana often offer brilliant blue skies and warm sunshine, perfect conditions for optimal birding!

The Bitterroot Valley is a birder’s paradise.

Tamber Bey Vintner Thanksgiving (November 22 – 26, 2017)
Acclaimed Napa Valley winery Tamber Bey showcases its vintner craftsmanship at Sundance Ranch, the world-class equestrian facility in Calistoga that is home to the winery. Vintners Barry and Jennifer Waitte will feel right at home when they join us to welcome guests for our Thanksgiving celebration. The familiar, rich array of Ranch activities will be available, along with holiday-themed cooking classes and wine tastings.

Holiday-themed cooking classes and wine tasting.

About Triple Creek Ranch
Experience the legendary hospitality and enchanting beauty of the World’s Best Hotel (Travel + Leisure, 2014) set in the heart of the Montana Rockies. Triple Creek Ranch offers an all-inclusive luxury guest ranch experience of refined rustic elegance and five star service amidst the romance of a forested mountain retreat.

Private log cabins feature wood-burning fireplaces, original Western art from the owners’ private collection, king beds, and a private or nearby hot tub. Nightly cabin rates are all-inclusive: all meals, house wine, spirits and beer, on-ranch activities. Guests ages 16 and older are welcome, ensuring that adult travelers enjoy a relaxed and romantic setting with incomparable scenery, an endless menu of outdoor activities and the option of adding on exhilarating off-ranch Western adventures. Featured Montana activities include sapphire panning, horseback riding and ORVIS guided fly-fishing.

Revel in a retreat from the everyday and relax in world-class accommodations, experience the thrill of the Montana wilderness from the back of a horse, dine on the freshest contemporary cuisine and sample the world’s finest wines while our seasoned staff attends to every desire.

Come visit soon,
Jennifer

Jennifer O’Donohue is the Marketing and Sales Director for Triple Creek Ranch, a Relais & Chateaux property.

www.triplecreekranch.com
info@triplecreekranch.com
(406) 821-4600

GUEST POST: 6 AUTHENTIC “WILD WEST” ADVENTURES WITH SWAN MOUNTAIN OUTFITTERS

There you go again, daydreaming about sending your clients on their next getaway to Western Montana’s Glacier Country. How about adding a bucket-list adventure to their itinerary in the great outdoors, plus a little pampering? Swan Mountain Outfitters serves up just that. We’re a full-service, year-round guided outdoor activity company offering a variety of must-try “Wild West” adventures. From one-hour family tours to guided five-day back-country wilderness trips, Swan Mountain Outfitters helps create the Montana experience of your dreams. Come unplug and unwind with us in the beautiful Montana landscape.

HORSEBACK TRIPS
Swan Mountain Outfitters is the largest horseback outfitter in the State of Montana, and we operate the only trail-ride service within Glacier National Park. Our guides and horses are trained to accommodate total beginners to expert riders. Plus, diverse trail-ride options appease the masses, making this a perfect activity for families.

Experience Montana from the saddle with one or two-hour trips, half-day or full-day adventures, Montana cowboy cookout/trail-ride combos or overnight horseback rides and Montana fishing excursions. Several trip options all allow you to see the Montana portrayed in the movies—panoramic vistas of grand mountain ranges and sparkling waters.

Guides and wranglers arrange all trip details and preparations. Trip Tip: If you really love the back-country and want to go the extra miles, check out our multi-day Bob Marshall Wilderness pack trips.

A guest enjoys the scenery from the saddle during a trail ride in Glacier National Park.

LLAMA TREKKING
Llama trekking is an all-around lovable affair and eco-therapy for the soul. Our llama treks enable guests to hike into the mountains or forest without having to carry gear, making hiking with kids and groups logistically easier and more enjoyable. Plus, llamas can travel to back-country places that our horses are not able to go.

These “camels of the clouds” trekking tours allow for a variety of time-frames within different trip options. You can choose a half-day or full-day trek, as well as multi-day backpacking trips to pristine alpine lakes. One of our favorite trip offerings is a three-hour evening “Wine and Cheese Llama Trek.”

Trekking with llamas is one of the most unique hiking trips you will ever take.

GLACIER MOPED RENTALS
Mopeds are just plain fun. Imagine cruising around in the open air, with all your senses engaged, while viewing the glacial creeks and towering peaks of Glacier National Park. Moped rentals are a big hit among adventure travelers who have done it all and want a new way to travel. If you’re independent by nature, you will revel in the freedom of a self-guided moped tour and are sure to return with tons of scenic photos from the beauty you’ll find along our tour routes.

Many of our guests take full-day moped trips around the park, while others might indulge in a quick two-hour spin around the area. Glacier Moped Rentals is the only rental option of its kind in the Glacier National Park area.

A new spin on a drive around Glacier National Park.

CROWN OF THE CONTINENT DISCOVERY CENTER
It’s the perfect pit-stop, and the local flair you’ll find here is worth it. The Crown of the Continent Discovery Center offers a variety of Montana made food, drinks, gifts and souvenirs, as well as kids’ activities and educational opportunities. Several maps and interactive displays are placed throughout the Made in Montana gift shop.

With ample parking for large vehicles, public restrooms, family activities and food and drink, all your basic road needs are met here and then some. Our in-house authentic Mexican restaurant receives rave reviews and our to-go lunches satiate the on-the-move traveler. The petting zoo offers more family fun, and an ice cream parlor boasts local favorites like Montana huckleberry. Chill on the covered porch with a Montana-made cocktail or a latte when you’re ready to kick back and relax.

Cool off in the bar with a Montana craft beer, a locally made ice cream or an iced latte.

MONTANA FISHING
At Swan Mountain Outfitters, we simply love fishing in Montana, and we know where the fish live. That’s why we’ve made fishing a big part of our life’s work.

Swan Mountain’s fishing spots get you into places few anglers know about, and we are the only outfitter permitted to guide in some trip locations. Enjoy more serenity and elbow-room on the water compared to other popular spots in the Flathead Valley, which might translate to more fish, and the ultimate authentic Montana fishing experience.

You have options, from all-day river float and fishing trips, to walk-and-wade and overnight guided horseback and fishing combination trips.

Montana is for fishing, plain and simple.

SWAN MOUNTAIN SNOWMOBILING
When winter approaches, we trade-in our trusty steeds for snow machines. Montana is known for its “cold smoke” powder, with record snowfall reaching over 400 inches at high elevations in 2017. Thus, we make the most of our winters by revving up the snowmobiles and teaching our guests how to have some winter fun, Montana style. The adrenaline rush keeps us going from December to April.

Permits in multiple areas throughout the Flathead Valley allow us to offer more groomed trail miles than any other snowmobile guide service in the region. Top-of-the line machines keep you riding in comfort and are easy to operate, even for total beginners. Our guides are entertaining and will teach you what you need to know to ride snowmobiles on our groomed trails.

So, you’re a winter lover, or you just want to find a way to make winter more fun.

Help make your client’s Montana dreams a reality in any season with a little help from Swan Mountain Outfitters.

See you on the trail,
Katie

The author, Katie LeBlanc

About the author: Katie LeBlanc pursues outdoor recreation as a daily lifestyle necessity, and has many stories from personal travel expeditions. As marketing coordinator for Swan Mountain Outfitters, Katie is joyfully employed by a company that shares her love and appreciation for travel adventure and recreation. She lives, works, and plays in one of the many paradise destinations of the world, Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

CANADIAN ROCKIES AND AMERICAN ROCKIES TWO NATION VACATION LOOP TOUR

This year, Montana’s Glacier Country would like to congratulate our neighbors to the north in Canada as they celebrate their 150th birthday. Parks Canada is inviting visitors and locals to celebrate with them by offering free admission to all of their national parks and historic sites with a Discovery Pass for 2017. We’ve put together a seven day loop tour that incorporates northwest Montana along with some of these historic and iconic sites in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, making a great two nation vacation. Here are the highlights if you’d like to come along.

Day 1: NW Montana and Eureka
Fly into Glacier Park International (FCA) in Kalispell. Car rentals are available from the airport. Highway 93 passes through the charming town of Whitefish, where you can grab a quick bite at one of the local eateries on Central Ave. Next stop off Highway 93 is the quaint town of Eureka which sits on the banks of the Tobacco River. Eureka’s small-town hospitality is evident with the welcome signs and flag-lined streets. Stop in at the Tobacco Valley Historical Village—a collection of restored buildings from the 1880s to the early 1900s. Have a picnic at Riverside Park, which hosts a farmers market every Wednesday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. in the summer months.

Charming downtown Eureka.

Northwest Montana from The Wilderness Club in Eureka.

Day 2: British Columbia, Canada
After crossing the border into British Columbia stop in the town of Fort Steele Heritage Town. Fort Steele was an outpost for the North-West Mounted Police who came to bring law to the itinerant gold seekers from America’s wilder West. Here, over 60 buildings have been restored since the site was designated a Provincial Heritage Site in 1961. Visit the heritage tradesman and women who were essential to daily life including blacksmith, leather workers, dressmakers, tinsmiths and gold panners. See livestock demonstrations, including daily care and feeding of the Clydesdale’s that provided the horse-power back in the day.

Fort Steele Heritage Town.

Continue your travels north through the beautiful sprawling pasturelands of the valley with the jagged Canadian Rockies to the east eventually coming into Canal Flats. Be sure to stop at Canal Flats Overlook for a breathtaking view of the Kootenay River Valley and Columbia Lake. This lake is the originating source of the Columbia River, that eventually flows south through the Columbia River Gorge between Washington and Oregon and empties into the Pacific Ocean at Astoria, Oregon.

Stop in at one of British Columbia’s legendary attractions, Fairmont Hot Springs, Canada’s largest natural hot springs. There are accommodation options from RV to hotel lodging. Further on up the highway is the ultra-charming village of Radium Hot Springs that greets visitors with a welcome sign that reads “The Mountains Shall Bring Peace to the People.”

Overnight in Radium Hot Springs.

Day 3: Kootenay National Park/Banff National Park
The west gate of Kootenay National Park is located just outside of town. Sinclair Canyon serves as the entry into Kootenay National Park with striking cliffs of colored rocks on either side. Make sure you allow some time this morning to soak in the natural soothing waters of Radium Hot Springs while being surrounded by dramatic cliffs. And don’t worry if you forgot the towels or swimsuits, they are available for rent along with lockers.

Due to all of the wildlife, binoculars and cameras are highly recommended.

The hiking possibilities start immediately after your soak so take your lunch, bear spray, binoculars and enjoy your day in Kootenay National Park. Don’t forget to stop at the many viewpoints that overlook the Kootenay Valley or at the Continental Divide separating the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds. Leaving Kootenay National Park takes you straight into Banff National Park for an evening at Lake Louise.

Stop at overlooks for amazing views.

Overnight in Lake Louise.

Day 4: Lake Louise/Banff

Make this an early morning for the very best views of Lake Louise before the crowds begin to form (before 9 am or after 7 pm). The Victoria Glacier on Mount Victoria forms a dramatic backdrop at the head of Lake Louise for the most photographed location in the Canadian Rockies.

Magnificent Lake Louise.

Take the famed hike to Lake Agnes Tea House, open June 4 – October 10, located 3.5 km (2.1 miles) from the Lake Louise parking lot. The tea house—open since 1905—is set on the shores of Lake Agnes. Together with Mirror Lake and Lake Louise, these lakes are often called the “Lakes in the Clouds”. Choose from more than 100 varieties of teas, along with hearty homemade soup and sandwiches on freshly baked bread.

If not for an overnight, be sure to step into the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise to see the elegant yet relaxed atmosphere of the 552 room luxury resort. The 125-year-old resort also boasts the finest dining around. Choose from The Walliser Stube or fine dining at The Fairview or Lago Italian Kitchen, or enjoy the tradition of afternoon tea with views of Lake Louise.

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

Leave enough time to visit the ultra-charming town of Banff. Walk along Banff Avenue and visit boutiques, galleries, museums and eateries along with chateau-style hotels and curio shops.

Strolling downtown Banff.

Overnight in Banff.

Day 5: Waterton Lakes National Park
Today is another recommended early start and a bit of a travel day as you make your way through Alberta on Highway A1 east towards Calgary the largest city in Alberta. Stop and see the cosmopolitan city. Memorial Drive along the Bow River offers views of metropolitan activities from bikers to runners and walkers.

Calgary is the largest city in Alberta.

As you head south look for the interpretive center, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site. This archaeological site built right into the cliffs preserves the remarkable history of the Plains People. Due to the native peoples understanding of the bison behavior and regional topography they hunted bison by stampeding them off cliffs.

The visitor center is set into the hillside at Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump.

Continue on to Waterton Lakes National Park and part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park where Montana’s Glacier National Park and Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park meet at the border between the United States and Canada. Designated the first International Peace Park in 1932 to commemorate the bonds of peace and friendship between the two nations.

Local residents of Waterton.

There is plenty of activity options in Waterton Lakes National Park but a “must do” is a cruise from Canada across the border into the United States on Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co. Listen to experienced local guides give informative and entertaining commentary for the 2-hour cruise. July through mid-September the boat will stop at Goat Haunt—the northern gateway to the wilderness of Glacier National Park.

Cruising Waterton Lake.

While there are options for your overnight stay, we recommend a room at a true historic icon, the Prince of Wales Hotel. As one of the most photographed hotels in the world, the Prince of Wales hotel sits on a bluff with stunning views of Waterton Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park and Glacier National Park.

The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel.

Overnight in Waterton.

Day 6: Glacier National Park (east side)
There are two border crossings into the U.S. from Waterton Lakes National Park. The most convenient is Chief Mountain border crossing on AB 6 crossing over onto Montana Highway 17. However, it is a seasonal crossing only open May 15 – September 30, from 9 AM – 6 PM. Dates and times may vary. Several miles east utilizing AB 2 and U.S. Highway 89 is the Piegan/Carway border crossing open daily, 7AM – 11PM year-round.

Just beyond Babb is the road to Many Glacier Hotel. Stop in to visit the historic lodge that just received a multi-million dollar renovation including a restored spiral staircase. This would be a good day to combine a boat tour on Swiftcurrent Lake and a day hike to Grinnell Glacier, catching another boat back after the hike.

Mount Grinnell at Swiftcurrent Lake across from Many Glacier Hotel.

Stop at the St. Mary Visitor Center to gather daily information on park activities, open trails, wildlife watch areas. The east side of the park offers wonderful day hiking opportunities and interpretive boat tours on Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake and Swiftcurrent Lake with Glacier Park Boat Company.

If time allows take a trip into Browning, the largest city on the 1.5 million-acre Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Exhibits of cultural artifacts at the Museum of the Plains Indian are among the finest in the West. The Blackfeet Heritage Center and Art Gallery and the Lodgepole Gallery and Tipi Village feature traditional and contemporary arts and crafts.

Glacier National Park’s east side.

Travel the park’s southern boundary along Highway 2. Visit Essex, home to the historic Izaak Walton Inn that once housed workers for the Great Northern Railroad. Visit the small town of West Glacier before heading towards the west entrance of Glacier National Park.

Overnight at Izaak Walton Inn, Lake McDonald Lodge or Belton Chalet.

Day 7: Glacier National Park (west side)
You’d be hard pressed to find a more scenic drive in the lower continental United States than the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park. A wilderness of lakes, towering peaks and remnants of glaciers is readily accessible. Hop aboard a red bus tour of the 50-mile-long Going-to-the-Sun Road. The red bus drivers, known as Jammers, are your tour guides and provide information about the park’s flora and fauna, history, geology and glaciology.  Another tour option is Sun Tours, which tells the perspective from the Blackfeet Indian and the emphasis Glacier National Park has had on Blackfeet Nation throughout the centuries. NOTE: The Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses a high mountain pass and due to weather is only open from the end of June to the middle of October (weather permitting). Driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road is restricted for private vehicles longer than 21 feet or wider than 8 feet.

Red bus tours in Glacier National Park.

If time allows take a scenic boat tour on Lake McDonald or a guided horseback trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters or hike the most popular trails on the west side, Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake trail. Make a reservation at the historic Belton Chalet (built in 1910) for a gourmet dinner in the lovely dining room.

Overnight in West Glacier or Kalispell before departing your two nation vacation.

Find the full Two Nation Vacation itinerary here. For more information on where to stay throughout Western Montana, visit our tour operator website. If you need additional tour itinerary assistance, feel free to drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

DP

MONTANA’S BITTERROOT VALLEY IS THE PERFECT OUTDOOR PLAYGROUND

One of our hidden gems and relatively undiscovered destinations in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, is the beautiful Bitterroot Valley. A visit to this scenic valley will find the Sapphire Mountain range to the east and the Bitterroot Mountain range to the west with the Bitterroot River flowing through the middle of the valley. If your clients are looking for that perfect balance of outdoor recreation, culture and history—not to mention some of the most charming lodging options in Montana—then I suggest an itinerary that includes some time for them to stay and play in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

The Bitterroot River flows through the valley.

Sunset over the Bitterroot Mountains.

Darby
For travelers looking to explore a truly western town, begin with the charming town of Darby. The towns wood-facade buildings provide a real western feel as you stroll through downtown and their signature event—Darby Logger Days—pays tribute to the town’s logging roots. Recommended stops include the Darby Pioneer Memorial Museum or make the short drive north and west to Lake Como for a plethora of recreational options that include water sport activities, hiking or mountain biking around the lake on well-maintained trails. Take a drive along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River for great fishing and a visit to Painted Rocks State Park where green, yellow and orange lichen cover the rock walls and granite cliffs. For some of the best winter skiing in Western Montana, visit Lost Trail Powder Mountain at the top of Lost Trail Pass on the border of Montana and Idaho. The lodging options in Darby range from quaint to luxury: in town lodging includes Travellers Rest Cabins and RV Park, while additional properties in picturesque settings and a little father out of town include Alta Ranch and Rye Creek Lodge. For those clients looking for a luxury guest ranch, enjoy the rustic elegance—and amazing culinary offerings—at the all-inclusive Triple Creek Ranch.

Singing cowboy at Triple Creek Ranch. Photo: Triple Creek Ranch

A beautiful day at Lake Como.

Hamilton
The largest town in the Bitterroot Valley is home to a buzzing art scene with many galleries and shops full of work from local artisans. Catch live art with the Bitterroot Performing Arts Series, a Montana A Cappella Society Concert or the Hamilton Players live theater. Other great activities include sapphire mining for that perfect gem at Sapphire Studios in Hamilton, fly-fishing on one of Western Montana’s most pristine rivers—the Bitterroot River—or hiking the popular Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail for stunning views into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Lodging in Hamilton is comfortable and cozy at the Bitterroot River Inn & Conference Center or Hamilton’s TownHouse Inn.

Just outside of Hamilton is the Daly Mansion. The former summer home turned museum of Copper Baron and millionaire Marcus Daly, his wife Margaret and their four children has evolved from a two-story farmhouse into a 24,000-square-foot mansion with 25 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms on 50 stunning acres in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley.

Impressive views from Blodgett Canyon Overlook.

Once the summer home of Marcus Daly, now the Daly Mansion Museum.

Stevensville
Following the East Side Highway north is the community of Stevensville.  Take a quick detour for a little history at Fort Owen State Park—one of the most important commercial centers in the northwest for many years in the mid-1800s. Stevensville is home to the historic St. Mary’s Mission—the first permanent pioneer settlement in Montana. Walk through history and see first-hand the fascinating chapter of Montana’s beginning.

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

Florence
A little farther north on Highway 93 is the town of Florence. Travel east on the East Side Highway with a stop at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. A naturalist’s paradise, look for tundra swans, woodpeckers, bald eagles and white-tailed deer from the comfort of your vehicle or walk the 2.5-miles of nature trails near the Bitterroot River.

Birding at Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge.

Lolo
Located on the north end of the Bitterroot Valley on Highway 93 is Lolo, home to Travelers’ Rest State Park—the campsite where Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery rested and prepared for their journey to and from the Pacific Ocean over 200 years ago. It is home to the only archaeologically verified campsite of their journey and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Recreational options abound including biking, running or walking the Bitterroot Trail—a 50-mile-long paved path that runs from Missoula to Hamilton and is a fun way to see the valley. Just a short drive east outside of Lolo on Highway 12 is The Lodge at Lolo Hot Springs. Rejuvenate in the mineral hot springs after a day spent hiking or biking in the region.

Interpretive talks. Photo: Travelers’ Rest State Park

The Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce has more information on staying and playing in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. If you need help planning an itinerary, visit our tour operator page here, or drop me a line here. I am always here to help.

DP

5 UNEXPECTED SPRING EXPERIENCES IN WESTERN MONTANA’S BITTERROOT VALLEY

It’s that time of year we love: spring in Montana. One of our favorite seasons, spring offers FIT/Group clients an exceptional Western Montana experience. The days start to lengthen, the skies erupt with beautiful blue hues and visitation is lighter than in our busier summer months. Spring is one of the best, most underrated times to visit our region. To add to your spring itinerary, we’ve put together a list of a few of the best and most unexpected experiences to be had in our beautiful Bitterroot Valley.

Pedal the Valley: Bike the Bitterroot Trail

This paved 50-mile path connects Missoula and Hamilton, taking travelers through some of Western Montana’s most charming small towns and jaw-dropping scenery. Learn more about this historic trail at bitterroottrail.com.

Biking the scenic Bitterroot Trail. Photo: bitterroottrail.com

Sip Local Spirits: Visit a Brewery or Distillery

Within the last few years, the microbrew and distillery industries have exploded onto the scene in Montana. With more than 25 distilleries and breweries in Glacier Country, adding a brew or spirit tasting to your itinerary is simple and fun. The valley is home to some of those great breweries. Check out Lolo Peak Brewing Company in Lolo, Bandit Brewing Co. in Darby, Blacksmith Brewing Company and Wildwood Brewery in Stevensville, and Higherground Brewing and Bitterroot Brewing Company in Hamilton. Visit glaciermt.com/breweries.php to learn more.

Friends enjoy some brews at Blacksmith Brewing in Stevensville.

Birder’s Delight: Bird-Watching in the Bitterroot Valley

Spring is a fantastic time to check out migratory birds in our region, and Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is just the place to do it. A 30-minute drive south of Missoula and a few minutes from Stevensville, Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,800-acre refuge that’s home to a variety of wildlife and birds. Trails are easily accessible and the Bitterroot Mountain views offer a gorgeous backdrop. Visit glaciermt.com/wildlife-refuges.php to learn more about the refuges in Western Montana.

A group sees a baby bald eagle through the scope.

Local Flavor: Dining in Montana

When you think of Montana, you likely think of mountains and big blue skies, so it might be surprising to hear that our culinary scene is top-notch. The Bitterroot Valley is home to some of our delicious culinary offerings. We suggest heading to the Lolo Creek Steak House in Lolo or head farther south to Nap’s Grill or Red Rooster Artisan Bakery in Hamilton. Click here for more dining options, and let the mouthwatering commence.

The Bitterroot Valley is home to many delicious culinary offerings.

Market Season: Experience a Western Montana Farmers Market

If you find yourself in the Bitterroot Valley this spring and summer you must check out one of the many Farmers Markets in the area. These markets are great for a genuine Western Montana experience. You will find some amazing Montana-made goods, local produce, organic items, baked goods and fresh flowers, not to mention friendly locals and talented musicians. Check out the full list of community farmers markets in the Bitterroot Valley right here.

Hamilton’s Farmers Market is a must. Photo: asideofsweet.com

You can find more information on where to stay and play in the Bitterroot Valley here or if you are looking for more information about Western Montana, visit our tour operators website. If you need additional tour itinerary assistance, don’t hesitate to contact our Tourism Sales Manager, Debbie Picard.

Cheers!
NG

TOP 5 SUMMER HIGHLIGHTS AT WHITEFISH MOUNTAIN RESORT

One of the best offerings summer in Western Montana’s Glacier Country affords is the variety of ways to get your group into the great outdoors. Often the biggest challenge for group travel is finding one locale to satisfy the desires of each member of the group. When it comes to mountain experiences that speak to everyone’s desires, look no further than Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Rising above the town of Whitefish just west of Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort has been known for its skiing prowess and friendly staff for 70 years. Our aim is to provide an unmatched recreational experience in a relaxed environment free from everyday stress that allows people to connect with friends, family, locals and fellow travelers. The mountain is an easy 15-minute drive from the town of Whitefish, and offers activities and services amidst tranquility and beautiful scenery.

Although skiing is the main course here, summer offers a full buffet of activities served with the same personal service we’re known for in the winter. Many of our summer guests have not experienced mountain activities before and others are seasoned adventurers, so we’ve created a full menu of unique ways to experience the mountain at any comfort level. Additionally, we guarantee there is one experience everyone will enjoy, and that’s taking in the spectacular vistas our mountain offers.

Any group, regardless of age or activity level, will make unforgettable memories at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Here are five highlights of a summer getaway on the mountain:

1. Zip Line Tours For adventure seekers, zip lining offers quite the thrill. At Whitefish Mountain Resort, participants—referred to as “flyers”—soar above the slopes on a once-in-a-lifetime ride. The 2.5-hour tour encompasses more than a mile of airtime on seven different zip lines. Two flyers ride side by side up to 300 feet above the ground over ski runs, trees and ravines. If the exhilaration doesn’t take your breath away, the views certainly will.

Taking in the views from the zip line tours. Photo: Noah Clayton

2. Scenic Lift Rides For those looking to enjoy the scenery at a slower pace, ride our Scenic Lift to the mountain’s summit. Passengers can choose an open chair or an enclosed gondola, both of which offer breathtaking views on the 14-minute ride up. Once at the top, 360-degree views await, including the Northern Rockies, peaks of Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley. Choose to return by lift or take a scenic hike down the 3.8-mile Danny On Trail. 

Relax in the gondola on a scenic lift to the top of Big Mountain. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

3. Lunch With a View Once at the summit, whether arriving by the Scenic Lift or by hiking up the Danny On Trail, enjoy a delicious lunch and refreshing beverage at the Summit House. Huge windows allow guests to enjoy the stunning scenery. Montana’s only mountaintop restaurant (which was recently remodeled) features a summer menu with something for everyone: fresh salads and sandwiches, local game, classic grilled burgers and vegetarian fare.

Hike the miles of trails on the mountain. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

4. Adventure Park This “obstacle course in the trees” is perfect for anyone who likes a challenge. There are five different courses classified by degree of difficulty, starting with the lowest to the ground (between 3 and 18 feet) and the “easiest” obstacles of all the courses. Obstacles include suspended bridges, cable walkways, nets, ladders, trapezes, tube traverses, zip lines and balance beams. There are 12 to 13 obstacles per course. Guests navigate their chosen course at their own pace, and, when finished, can move on to another course with new challenges.

Aerial Adventure on Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo: Glacierworld.com

5. Hiking for Huckleberries Anyone looking to embark on a truly local adventure must try their hand at huckleberry picking. Huckleberries only grow in the forests of the northwestern United States and western Canada at 2,000+ feet above sea level. Our region here in northwest Montana just so happens to be a hotbed for the fruit, and our mountain is covered in huckleberry bushes. These delectable berries ripen at lower elevations first—typically in mid or late July—and continue to fruit at higher elevations into September.

The bounty of huckleberries. Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Since 1947, Whitefish Mountain Resort has welcomed visitors seeking a mountain that is uncrowded, beautiful and affordable. It is the perfect base camp for a summer visit to Montana’s majestic Flathead Valley—home to water sports, fly fishing, whitewater rafting, and, of course, Glacier National Park. For more information, call 877-SKI-FISH or visit skiwhitefish.com.

See you on the mountain,
Riley

The author, Riley Polumbus

About the Author: Riley’s passion for the outdoors and writing has paved the way for her career in resort marketing. She moved to the Flathead Valley in March of 2011 to join the marketing team at Whitefish Mountain Resort and live closer to family. Riley enjoys telemark skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, mountain biking and hiking with her golden retrievers, Max and Maizy.

 

5 PERFECT HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS IN WESTERN MONTANA

Trends come and go with honeymoon destinations, but the fact remains that honeymooners want time together to experience authentic adventures and exceptional photo opportunities. Western Montana’s Glacier Country offers everything newlyweds are looking for, whether it’s 5-star luxury at an all-inclusive ranch or a beautiful, off-the-grid campsite under our star-filled big Montana sky. We’ve rounded up some of the top romantic destinations in Montana’s Glacier Country, and we’ll let your honeymoon clients decide which one fits the bill for their Montana honeymoon.

Montana sunsets are awe-inspiring.

Whitefish
For the couple that loves the idea of being in one of Montana’s most authentic mountain towns, Whitefish might be just the right honeymoon destination. If hitting the slopes is a passion, Whitefish Mountain Resort delivers with world-class skiing and snowboarding along with breathtaking views of Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park. In the summer or fall months, relax on Whitefish Lake or bike around the lake on the Whitefish Trail. Peruse downtown Whitefish with all of its cultural opportunities and its hint of metropolitan flair, including several Broadway-caliber theater companies, gourmet restaurants and boutique shopping along Central Avenue—downtown Whitefish’s quaint main street. One of the friendliest communities in Montana, Whitefish will make you feel right at home.

Romantic dinner on the shores of Whitefish Lake. Photo: Donnie Sexton

Seeley Swan Valley
Nestled between the Mission and Swan mountain ranges, the Seeley Swan Valley offers something for everyone year-round, with winter providing a little something extra for couples, whether you enjoy snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or ice fishing. Bundle up at Double Arrow Lodge for a sleigh ride and a hot chocolate. In the summer and fall, paddle the Clearwater Canoe Trail. The river meanders gently for 3.5 miles before flowing into Seeley Lake. Other activities include golfing, biking and hiking nearby trails in the Lolo National Forest or the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The Seeley Swan Valley is a truly romantic—and fairly undiscovered—getaway destination.

Cabins on Swan Lake make a perfect honeymoon retreat.

Bitterroot Valley
Couples looking for a little exploration and a true western experience complete with warm hospitality should look no further than Montana’s Bitterroot Valley, stretching along Highway 93 through the charming towns of Lolo, Florence, Victor, Hamilton and Darby. The wood-façade buildings in downtown Darby provide an authentic Old West feel. Don’t miss Darby’s signature event, Darby Logger Days, which pays tribute to the town’s logging roots. Recommended stops include the Darby Pioneer Memorial Museum and Lake Como (just a short drive west) for recreation options like water sports, hiking and mountain biking around the lake on well-maintained trails. Take a drive along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River for excellent fishing and a visit to Painted Rocks State Park where picturesque green, yellow and orange lichen covers the rock walls and granite cliffs. For some of the best winter skiing in Western Montana, visit Lost Trail Powder Mountain at the top of Lost Trail Pass on the border of Montana and Idaho.

Breathtaking views of the Bitterroot Mountains.

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is a honeymooner’s paradise, welcoming couples year-round. Summer is the busiest time, spring and fall see less visitors and winter is one of the quietest times to explore. The famous Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses a mountainside and doesn’t open in its entirety until plows have finished removing the snow up at Logan Pass, around the third weekend in June and closes again in October. However, the road is open to walkers, runners, hikers and bicyclists. Wildlife watching is always an exciting spring activity in the park, as the new offspring begin to emerge. Fall is a favorite, with vibrant changing colors against stunning mountains and crystal clear waters. Additional activities: Red bus tours and Sun Tours, hiking, horseback riding, boat cruising, stand-up paddleboading, all surrounded by stunning scenery.

A couple takes in the view of St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

The scenery is stunning from Two Medicine in Glacier National Park on a crisp fall day.

Luxury Guest Ranches
Western Montana is home to some of the most luxurious guest ranches in all of the U.S. Each one offers exceptional service tailor-made for your once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon. Spend time experiencing activities like horseback riding or ATVing at The Resort at Paws Up, hot air ballooning at The Ranch at Rock Creek or enjoying a romantic gourmet dinner by candlelight at Triple Creek Ranch. Lodging options can range from glamping tents to grand honeymoon homes featuring amenities like hot tubs and fully stocked kitchens. These guest resorts will take care of every detail, helping make unforgettable made-in-Montana memories.

Honeymooners love guest ranches in Montana.

For more information on romantic inns and lodges, quaint bed-and-breakfasts and unique lodging throughout Western Montana, visit our tour operator website. If you need additional tour itinerary assistance, feel free to drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Happy Honeymooning,

DP