Tag Archives: Glacier National Park

GUEST POST: 5 GREAT PLACES TO EXPLORE MONTANA BY BICYCLE

Western Montana’s Glacier Country has seen an increase in unique and niche markets that love the open roads, stunning scenery and local hospitality. Cycling is definitely one of them. If you are a tour operator offering cycling adventures we’ve asked the experts and our friends from Adventure Cycling Association, located right here in Missoula Montana, to share their top 5 destinations in Montana for adventure cycling.

Bikers enjoy the Bitterroot Mountains.

The Adventure Cycling Association’s route network has 3,500 miles of mapped bicycle routes in Montana, and more than 42,000 around the country. We encourage you to explore Montana by bicycle, where you can take in the smells, sights, locals, communities and culture at a pace that allows you to appreciate all Montana has to offer.

TransAmerica Bicycle Trail
With the incomparable Madison Range as a backdrop, cyclists explore the backroads, farmers markets and small towns of Big Sky Country using pedal power alone.

To purchase maps, digital data and route highlights, click here.

Northern Tier Route
A trio of riders explores a wild and remote section of the Northern Tier Bicycle Route from Libby to Whitefish.

To purchase maps, digital data and route highlights, click here. 

Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail
Thousands of cyclists travel in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark every year. Here’s a small piece of that route, featuring the stunning plateaus and winding river bottoms of north-central Montana.

The Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail was created to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps of Discovery’s 1804 – 1806 historic journey and offers cyclists the opportunity to follow the path of the intrepid explorers, captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. It includes seven map sections detailing the 1804 – 1805 westbound trip, roughly following the Missouri and Columbia rivers, and one map section showing Clark’s 1806 eastbound return along the Yellowstone River in Montana, totaling 3,562.5 miles.

To purchase maps, digital data and route highlights, click here.

Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
Crisscrossing the Continental Divide from Canada to Mexico, Adventure Cycling’s Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is the longest mapped off-pavement cycling route in the world. Along its 2,768-mile course, it cuts through some of Montana’s most wild and spectacular country. See it here through the eyes of two young travelers from faraway lands.

There is an excellent opportunity to view wildlife such as bear, deer, wild horses, pronghorn antelope, eagles, osprey, sandhill cranes and other animals and birds. The route is rich in history, with ghost towns, deserted mines, wagon routes and old Spanish land grants, and is near or passes through several national parks, including Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

To purchase maps, digital data and route highlights, click here.

Adventure Cycling Headquarters
Every summer we enjoy the parade of bicycle travelers who drop by our office here in Missoula, Montana. These cyclists come from all over the world. Last year we had over 1,400 visitors! Their variety of style, equipment, route and purpose is endless. In 1982, Greg Siple began recording our visitors on film and asking them to tell their stories, creating Adventure Cycling’s National Bicycle Touring Portrait Collection. The Open Road Gallery features selections from this collection in Adventure Cyclist magazine and on our website.

We invite you to visit the Adventure Cycling HQ, meet the staff, take a free tour, grab an ice cream from the visiting cyclists’ lounge and check out some of the portraits hanging on the walls that are featured in our Open Road Gallery collection.

Lisa McKinney is Adventure Cycling’s communications director.

GUEST POST: MONTANA’S NOT-SO-OFF SEASON

5 Reasons to Schedule Your Next Meeting in Western Montana’s Glacier Country

Ah, the spring melt! One day the snow drifts are so high we are unsure if spring will ever arrive, and the next day we are sad to see it melting so fast, and we’re left wanting for more turns on the ski hill. The changing of the seasons is something we Montanans often take for granted. It’s one of those things that just sort of happens. When I moved to San Francisco in my mid-twenties, I was so excited to experience the city, even though I knew I would miss the mountains of my hometown, Missoula. To my surprise, it wasn’t the mountains I missed the most, but the four distinct seasons.

Spring sunset over Missoula

I will admit, for the individual traveler, a Montana  summer with warm nights and daylight hanging on until well after 10 p.m., and a winter with epic vertical and no lift lines are both too enticing. However, as a meeting planner and destination professional, I realize Montana’s “off” seasons or what we refer to as shoulder season (spring and fall) are not only spectacular, but perfectly aligned with the desired months for conferences and meetings.  Determined to avoid the travel-heavy summer months and the winter holiday chaos, annual meeting and conference planners often schedule events in spring, early summer and fall. As a self-described Treasure State expert and longtime resident, I’d argue there are no better times to host your event in Western Montana than during these seemingly “off” months. Here are five reasons why:

The Vistas Are Always There
Montana is beautiful year-round. Many locals will refer to this time of year as mud season. Sure, the need for a car wash is real, but the peaks of Glacier National Park are still spectacular and the sunsets on Whitefish Lake are still postcard perfect. Even an early fall thunderstorm rolling across Flathead Lake will take your breath away. The scenery never gets old and never disappoints—that, I  can guarantee. Often we hear that the panoramic views and clear mountain air serve as inspiration for quality discussions and out-of-the-box thinking. Clear skies or not, Montana seems to spark creativity and innovation.

A picture perfect day at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

So Much to Do
My expertise is in Western Montana’s Glacier Country (as it’s called), so I will focus there. Imagine you have a half day to wow conference attendees with an array of activities. You’d love to consider Montana because, let’s face it, you’ve heard so many awesome things, but your conference is in late March. Surely, you think, that’s too early for Montana. Think again. Even in Western Montana, spring will start to show in late February. The days are getting longer and the nights are not as cold. This often results in bluebird days with spring emerging in town, but winter lingering in the mountains—a beautiful contrast. By late March, your list of potential activities could include hiking to the “M” overlooking Missoula, world-class spring skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, fly-fishing on the Blackfoot River (think A River Runs Through It), snowmobiling to Garnet Ghost Town, wildlife viewing at the National Bison Range, or snowshoeing in Glacier National Park (local secret: Glacier National Park has no crowds in the spring, fall and winter, but these are some of the most magical times to visit). Where else can you find this many diverse outdoor activities in late March? Heck, if you are up for it, you could raft the whitewater of the Lochsa River (full wetsuits, of course).

Antelope roam the National Bison Range north of Missoula.

We’ve Got You Covered
Event planners live and die by their backup plans. Montanans are no different, as being prepared is a way of life. We’ll move that trail ride inside for an arena ride, if lightning threatens. Is snow forecasted during your rafting trip? We’ll gear you up or offer a lake cruise in a heated tour boat instead. It’s raining on the ski hill—let’s do a local distillery or creamery tour instead. We’re flexible folks and, while we love being outdoors, the indoor activity options are truly endless and truly Montana. Country jitterbug lessons, anyone?

Under Budget
Many venues that are too expensive or too booked “in season” may be discounted and available.  Imagine treating your attendees to a Montana dude ranch or luxury lodge. The discounts don’t end with accommodations. Many airlines have specials on flights to major Montana cities in the spring and fall.  Also, as the summer and winter crowds begin to dwindle, many of the area vendors will run specials just to stay competitive. Even the convention and visitor bureaus offer incentives for conferences and meetings during the shoulder seasons. Take advantage of these deals and your Montana meeting will be the one nobody forgets.

Unique, Local Events
Montana is no longer the well-kept secret it used to be. That’s great news for local and unique cultural events that can accompany your conference or meeting. If April is your month, attendees could participate in the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula. September features the Dragon Boat races on Flathead Lake. How about a pow wow or rodeo in late May, or a concert at a local brewery or riverside amphitheater? As destination meetings struggle to stay relevant in our digital world, making an authentic connection with a place is essential to the success of your meeting and ensures your attendees will return year after year.

Glacier peaks watching over Flathead Lake.

Meetings Northwest and MNW Destinations
Do you need a sixth reason to plan your conference, meeting or event in Montana? Meetings Northwest and MNW Destinations is now here to help. We plan conferences all over the country, but we’ve added a full service Destination Management Company to our portfolio. We have offices in the Flathead Valley (covering Glacier National Park, Whitefish and Flathead Lake), Missoula and Bozeman (covering Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky). We specialize in helping companies and associations pull off the perfect Montana meeting.

For more information on Meetings Northwest or MNW Destinations contact Amy at alucke@meetingsnorthwest.com

Amy Lucke, Conference & Event Planning/Destination Management

About the author: Amy has been lucky to call Montana home for almost her entire life.  Growing up in Missoula fostered her love for hiking mountains and floating rivers.  Her best memories are summer days spent just north on Flathead Lake and one of the reasons she now calls the Flathead Valley home.

She simply loves sharing the secrets of Northwest Montana’s mountain towns, outdoor adventures and of course the magic of Glacier National Park.  She started in events as a recruiter and admissions representative for The University of Montana and has now worked for clients all over the country as an event planner with Meetings Northwest.  Her favorite events are the ones in her neck of the woods.

13 NONSTOP FLIGHTS TO WESTERN MONTANA’S GLACIER COUNTRY

Getting to Montana has never been easier. With the increase in passenger demand for the treasure state and some of the larger airlines now offering direct-flight access into Western Montana as a travel destination from their main hubs, the time is right to visit and see for yourself why they call it Big Sky Country.

Fly direct from Dallas and Chicago to MSO on American Airlines. Photo: American Airlines

Western Montana’s Glacier Country offers ease of accessibility via two bustling regional airports, Glacier Park International (FCA), located in Kalispell, and Missoula International (MSO), located in Missoula. Whether you are a meeting planner looking for a relatively undiscovered mountain destination or an association needing convention space near an international airport, we’ve got you covered in Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish. For tour operators with clients who have Glacier National Park on their bucket list, cut your clients’ time on a motor coach and consider flying into one of our regional airports before jumping on a coach to see the sites.

A picture perfect day at Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park.

Historic red bus tours in Glacier National Park.

Six major airlines (United, Delta, Alaska, American, Allegiant and Frontier) provide service between these airports, with a combined 13 nonstop flights (some seasonal) to major cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Oakland, Phoenix/Mesa, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle, offering flight schedules that make planning your next conference or tour in Western Montana’s Glacier Country a breeze.

Enjoy western hospitality. Photo: Triple Creek Ranch

Choose from unique to conventional meeting spaces.

If attendees or clients are not located in one of these direct flight markets, not to worry; it’s a short flight from most hubs on these major airlines. To learn how simple it is to get to Western Montana, find out more.

Come see the Milky Way in big sky country.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. For more information on tour itinerary options, visit our Glacier Country tour operator’s website. If you need additional information, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

See you in Montana,

DP

ONE DAY IN GLACIER NATIONAL PARK

As the Tourism Sales Manager for Western Montana’s Glacier Country, one of the questions that I get asked quite often is “I only have one day to spend in Glacier National Park, how should I spend the day?” While I highly recommend visitors take at least two or three days to really see the park, I know that they are usually on a tight itinerary so here are some of the top “must-dos” with limited time in Glacier National Park.

Wild Goose Island, Saint Mary Lake.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road
If you only have one day in Glacier National Park, you’re well-advised to spend it exploring the Going-to-the-Sun Road. If you are entering the park from the west entrance be sure to stop in West Glacier for gas, a souvenir and any snacks you might want for the day. (If entering from the east side, get your provisions at St. Mary before entering the park.) Once you’re inside the park, make a stop in Apgar Village, peruse the various offerings at the Montana House (open year-round) before taking in the view from the southern end of Lake McDonald (aka, the most photographed spot in the park). After dipping your toes in the lake, travel along the Going-to-the-Sun Road to St. Mary. Take advantage of the various pull-outs and scenic view points along the way. Recommended stops include Trail of the Cedars, Logan Pass Visitor Center, Jackson Glacier Overlook, Sunrift Gorge and Sun Point.

Lake McDonald splendor.

Take a Red Bus Tour or Sun Tour
If you don’t have your own car to drive or just want to receive a fun and informative history lesson, reserve a seat on a historic red bus tour. It’s a fantastic way to take in the sights and sounds of the park. The driver is your tour guide and is called a Jammer. Back in the 1930’s the drivers would have to jam the gears to get the reds to climb the hills on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. All the reds have been upgraded, but the drivers have kept the name and dress in historic clothing and can tell you all about the flora and fauna in Glacier National Park. The reds are operated by and can be reserved through Glacier National Park Lodges. If you reserve seats on the most popular morning tour called Western Alpine, you will be back in time for lunch at Lake McDonald Lodge. Another option and a truly memorable experience, is Sun Tours where you will get the Blackfeet Indian perspective on what Glacier National Park meant to the Blackfeet Nation, and the beautiful land known as The Backbone of the World.

Red bus tours in Glacier National Park.

Dining at Lake McDonald Lodge
After your return trip from your Going-to-the-Sun experience, visit Lake McDonald Lodge. Built in 1913, the 82-room historic lodge sits on the edge of Lake McDonald. The front of the lodge—which actually faces the water—was built this way to greet the tourist that would come via rail and then steamship up the lake back in the early 1900’s. Step inside the Swiss Chalet designed lodge and choose to eat at Russell’s Fireside Dining Room or Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria.

Lake McDonald Lodge.

Take a Historic Boat Ride
After lunch, grab a seat on the DeSmet (advance reservations highly recommended) with Glacier Park Boat Company. Climb aboard the historic vessel just steps below Lake McDonald Lodge. Cruise the pristine water and listen to the captain or one of the Park Rangers provide commentary on the scenic tour. Boat tours are offered on five lakes in Glacier National Park including St. Mary Lake, Lake Josephine, Swiftcurrent Lake and Two Medicine Lake.

Cruise among the peaks in Glacier National Park.

Take a Hike
Known as a hiker’s paradise, your time in Glacier National Park would not be complete without a hike into the forest. The park offers 730 miles of trails for every age and fitness level from the novice to the highly skilled back-country hiker. One of the most popular hikes is the mile-long Trail of the Cedars (which is ADA accessible) followed by the 4.5-mile round-trip hike to Avalanche Lake. If going with a guide is more your style, Glacier Guides offers well trained guides to lead the way and explain the geology, history and more.

Pro tip: If hiking in Glacier, always be bear aware and never hike alone, make noise, never leave food out, observe bears from a safe distance and carry bear spay as a precaution.

A portion of over 730 miles of hiking trails.

Additional Options For the more adventurous take a horseback trail ride with Swan Mountain Outfitters from their Apgar or Lake McDonald corrals. For a thrilling adventure in late spring and early summer—at the height of mountain runoff—take a whitewater rafting trip with one of the many outfitters in Glacier Country.

For more information 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 Exploring,
DP

TOP 5 REASONS TO CHOOSE WESTERN MONTANA FOR YOUR MOUNTAIN MEETING

Meeting planners know that inspiring destinations generate inspired ideas. Whether it’s the fresh mountain air, the outdoor activities or the soaring altitude, planners often say meetings held in the mountains are the most productive meetings. With that in mind, I would like to introduce our venues here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country that offer spectacular settings for your next meeting or event, whether it’s a larger conference in Missoula with mountain views in every directions or a board retreat at a mountainside lodge atop Big Mountain at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Sunrise at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Sunrise at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Here are the top 5 reasons to hold your next meeting in the Rocky Mountains of Western Montana.

1. Stunning Scenery. If you’re looking for snow-covered peaks, look no further than Glacier Country and our bevy of  mountain ranges including the Mission, Swan, Cabinet, Whitefish, Flathead, Purcell, Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, as well as the stunning peaks in Glacier National Park. In the spring, feast your eyes on blankets of mountainside wildflowers and the breathtaking bear grass that flowers every five to seven years. The fall offers an array of red, orange and yellow hues and Montana’s tamarack trees—also known as the western larch—are stunning in autumn. The majestic views of Big Sky Country in the summer are something to behold and we’re certain that stargazing at Montana’s star-filled night skies (with little to no light pollution) are something attendees will talk about long after the meeting is over.

Tamarack trees in autumn.

Tamarack trees in autumn.

Snow-capped peaks of the Mission Mountains.

Snow-capped peaks of the Mission Mountains.

2. Unique Lodging and Conference Options. The lodging and conference venues in Western Montana range from charming hot spring resorts to mountainside lodges and larger branded hotels and conference centers to rustic lakeside guest ranches. Western Montana’s Glacier Country is also home to three of Montana’s luxury guest ranches and a prime destination for corporate incentive meetings and retreats (read more about those here.

Rejuvenating pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs.

Rejuvenating pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs.

Mountainside lodging at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Mountainside lodging at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

3. Networking Opportunities. Because of the relaxed environment—the nature and scenery that surrounds them—attendees are able to relax and be more productive in thoughts and ideas. Without the big-city sights and sounds to draw their attention and time, people usually stay and network at the self-contained mountain destination. This allows for an increase in networking, bonding and a better exchange of idea that leaves your meeting attendees very satisfied with the mountain meeting experience. Volunteering has become a big part of meetings and is another way to bond and network, all while giving back to the community where the meeting is held.

Networking lakeside, Montana style.

Networking lakeside, Montana style.

Volunteering at a Montana state park while at a conference.

Volunteering at a Montana state park while at a conference.

4. Team-Building Opportunities. Few settings can match the mountains: the terrain found in Montana offers unimaginable variety all four seasons of the year. At Whitefish Mountain Resort, the summer months offer opportunities for teamwork and team bonding while having fun at the Aerial Adventure Park, an obstacle course that sits among the trees and off the ground at the resort.  Or paddle as a team as you maneuver your raft through the rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park or the Alberton Gorge near Missoula. At Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, team competitions take place with dummy steer roping, canoe racing and cocktail making.

Canoe racing competition on Flathead Lake.

Canoe racing competition on Flathead Lake.

Hiking to the M above Missoula for a team selfie.

5. Accessibility and Affordability. With two international airports in Western Montana—Missoula International Airport located in Missoula and Glacier Park International Airport located in Kalispell and only 20 minutes from both Whitefish and Glacier National Park—along with increased air service and decreasing ticket prices, getting here for that spectacular mountain meeting is easy. Historically, spring and fall have been the prime meeting and conference seasons which fits perfectly with Western Montana’s shoulder seasons, offering great rates and plenty of availability. Choose to stay in the charming mountain town of Whitefish (more on meeting in Whitefish here) or the regional shopping hub of Kalispell (more on meeting in Kalispell here) or the 2nd largest city and cultural hub of Montana, Missoula (more on meeting in Missoula here).

The charming mountain town of Whitefish, with world-class skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo Explore Whitefish

The charming mountain town of Whitefish, with world-class skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo Explore Whitefish

The bustling town of Kalispell, and the shopping hub of the Flathead Valley. Photo Donnie Sexton

The bustling town of Kalispell, and the shopping hub of the Flathead Valley. Photo Donnie Sexton

The cultural hub of Montana, Missoula is home to the University of Montana.

The cultural hub of Montana, Missoula is home to the University of Montana.

For more information on meeting facilities in Western Montana, visit our Glacier Country meetings website. Or, if you need help locating the perfect mountain destination for your meeting in Western Montana, drop me a line; I’m always here to help.

Meet in Montana,

DP

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

WESTERN MONTANA TALKS MEETINGS AT IMEX AMERICA

Western Montana’s Glacier Country along with our partners from Missoula, Kalispell and Whitefish just returned from exhibiting at IMEX America—the largest trade show in the U.S. for meetings, corporate incentive travel, conventions and events—in Las Vegas, Nevada. We spent three days talking with meeting planners from around the world about opportunities to meet in Montana. Conversations spanned topics from airlift into Montana to types of meeting venues along with activity offerings. For those meeting planners that did not attend IMEX or for those that didn’t make it by the Montana booth, here is a brief overview of what you will find if you meet in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Montana exhibits at IMEX America.

Corporate Incentive
At the top of many meeting planners lists were corporate incentive destination for their clients that offer sales incentive programs. Several had corporate clients that wanted experiential and activity driven destinations as an alternative to the white sandy beaches that they had been going to for years. Montana guest ranches seemed to be a great fit for those planners. Western Montana has guest ranches that range from all-inclusive luxury ranches to rustic and authentic dude ranches, including Flathead Lake Lodge, Ranch at Rock Creek, Resort at Paws Up and Triple Creek Ranch to name a few. Learn more about their offerings here.

Set your own unique meeting venue at Flathead Lake Lodge.

Association Meetings and Conventions
Planners at IMEX were pleasantly surprised to find that Western Montana has significant ballroom space at convention hotels located in our larger cities of Kalispell, Missoula and Whitefish. Missoula boasts the largest meeting space with 33,400 square feet at the University of Montana and 22,000 square feet at the largest convention hotel. Kalispell’s largest convention hotel offers 14,000 square feet of function space and Whitefish has two convention hotels with roughly 11,000 square feet of space at both properties.

Beautiful ballroom space in Kalispell.

Board Retreats
When it comes to retreats the lodging options in Montana are as unique and vast as the big blue sky. Choose from lakeside cabins, mountainside lodges, riverside hot springs resorts or quaint historic inns where you can hold your meeting in the morning and enjoy the great outdoors in the afternoon.

Sit fireside at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake in Whitefish.

Team-building and Outdoor Adventure Opportunities
Montana offers unimaginable variety all four seasons of the year for team-building and outdoor adventures. A few examples include Whitefish Mountain Resort where in the summer months Big Mountain offers opportunities for teamwork and team bonding at the Aerial Adventure Park, an obstacle course that sits among the trees. Other options include paddling as a team as you maneuver your raft through the rapids on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park or the Alberton Gorge near Missoula. At Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, team competitions take place with dummy steer roping, canoe racing and cocktail making.

Team-building fun on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River near Glacier National Park.

Getting to Montana
With two airports serving both the northern tier—Glacier Park International (FCA)—and southern tier—Missoula International (MSO)—of Western Montana’s Glacier Country, getting here is easier than you think. Both airports have direct flights on major carriers including United, Delta, Alaska and Allegiant that arrive regularly from major cities. Plus, it’s only 7 minutes from Missoula International Airport to downtown Missoula, while Whitefish and Kalispell are both located an easy 15 minutes from Glacier Park International Airport. Amtrak’s Empire Builder makes twice daily stops in Whitefish and other small communities in the northern tier of Glacier Country (Read more about that here). And our well-maintained highway system, anchored by Interstate 90 and Highway 93 makes driving in Glacier Country easy.

Now that you’re pondering which clients would love Montana, remember that we are here to help (feel free to drop me a line here) make your next meeting a success under Montana’s big blue sky.

We look forward to having you meet in Montana,
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: 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.