Tag Archives: Missoula

TOP 10 SPRING EXPERIENCES IN WESTERN MONTANA

Many of our visitors to Western Montana’s Glacier Country arrive in July and August, but I’d like to let you in on a little secret that you can share with your FIT/Group clients: spring is one of the best times to visit Montana. Baby animals emerge, dotting the pastures, and wildflowers pop up, blanketing the surrounding hillsides. The weather can have a flair for the dramatic, with bright blue skies one minute and snow the next, but that is what makes springtime in Montana uniquely pleasing. We’ve rounded up some of the top things to add to a spring itinerary under Western Montana’s big blue sky.

1) Golf
With the warming temperatures, many of the golf courses in Western Montana open by mid-April, welcoming players back to the greens. Some of our recommended courses include Buffalo Hill Golf Club in Kalispell, Canyon River Golf Club in Missoula and Whitefish Lake Golf Course in Whitefish.

Golf one of the many courses in Montana.

2) Tour the St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville
Opening for the season in mid-April, the Historic St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville marks an important place in Montana history as the first settlement. Be sure to take a guided tour of the complex and peruse the incredible American Indian photographs inside Chief Victor’s cabin.

The chapel at St. Mary’s Mission.

3) Soak in Natural Hot Springs
Spring is ideal for soaking in one of Montana’s many natural hot springs, and Western Montana has several sprinkled throughout the region. Try one of the hot springs in Lolo, Paradise or the aptly named town of Hot Springs.

Paradise found at Quinn’s Hot Springs.

4) Bike in Glacier National Park
Prior to the opening of the Going-to-the-Sun Road to vehicular traffic, it’s open to bikers and hikers. Biking in Glacier National Park is one of the most exhilarating things to do in Montana.
Side note: with the arrival of spring, wildlife are active in the park. Be sure to carry bear spray when hiking or biking in Glacier National Park.

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

5) Whitewater Raft the Middle Fork of the Flathead River
Many of Montana’s rafting companies start offering rafting trips in May and June when the spring runoff from the mountains is at its peak. If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping adventure, our outfitters and guides have you covered.

Adrenaline pumping whitewater adventures.

6) Fly-fish the Bitterroot, Blackfoot or Clark Fork rivers
This part of the country is well known for blue-ribbon trout streams and rivers. Enlist one of our expert fly-fishing guides to take you down one of those picturesque winding rivers in search of your next trophy catch.

In search of the elusive brown trout.

7) Visit Libby Dam and the Swinging Bridge over Kootenai Falls
Located in northwest Montana, Libby Dam holds back the waters of Lake Koocanusa (a lake that spans between the U.S. and Canada) and helps control flooding on the Columbia River. While in Northwest Montana, make it a point to take the short walk down from Highway 2, visiting the swinging bridge and capturing the view of the water tumbling over the falls.

Kootenai Falls near the swing bridge.

8) Go Birding at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
Enjoy watching the spring migration a few minutes from Stevensville at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge. This 2,800-acre refuge is home to a variety of wildlife and birds. The refuge also has accessible trails and offers gorgeous views of the Bitterroot Mountains.

A group sees a baby bald eagle through the scope.

9) Hike the “M” Trail Overlooking Missoula
One of the most popular hiking trails in Montana, this trail starts at the base of Mount Sentinel and works its way up to the M. A total length of .75 miles, the trail has 11 switchbacks, an elevation gain of 620 feet and an incredible view of the Missoula Valley below.

Victory celebration above the M overlooking the Missoula Valley.

10) Drive the National Bison Range
Situated at the base of the Mission Mountains, the National Bison Range is one of the most easily accessible and beautiful adventures in Western Montana. In early spring, visitors can travel along the west loop, while Red Sleep Drive (the 19-mile-long one-way drive that winds through the range) opens in early May. Be sure to keep an eye out for baby bison. Insider tip: bring your binoculars.

Antelope roam the National Bison Range north of Missoula.

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.

Happy spring!
DP

7 MUST-VISIT BED-AND-BREAKFASTS IN WESTERN MONTANA

Most people venture to Montana in search of spectacular scenery, breathtaking experiences and western hospitality. We also offer up some of the most unique lodging in the West. Here in Western Montana’s Glacier Country, that consists of a variety of mountainside lodges, family inns, working and luxury guest ranches and some of the most charming bed-and-breakfasts in the Treasure State. We’ve rounded up a few B&Bs in Glacier Country that your clients might enjoy, all with easy access to the unmatched recreation opportunities available under our signature big blue skies.

Time After Time Bed & Breakfast
Located in the charming town of Victor in the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, this four-bedroom bed-and-breakfast offers a truly authentic Montana experience. Host Trish offers a full gourmet breakfast, and lunch or dinner upon request as an add-on. In-room amenities include a private bath, spa robes, ice and water night tray, turn down service, satellite TV and complimentary Wi-Fi. Recreational activities abound in the Bitterroot Valley, with exceptional hiking and biking, as well as fly-fishing on the Bitterroot River. Historical attractions in the area include St. Mary Mission and the Daly Mansion and the Margaret Daly Memorial Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

The Dragonfly Cabin is welcoming.

Enjoy a gourmet breakfast.

Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast
Located in the heart of downtown Missoula, this beautiful four-bedroom 1903 Victorian Mansion has been restored with modern amenities, offering guests a home away from home. Guests are invited to enjoy a book in the parlor or library, a cup of tea by the fireplace in the grand entry, or a glass of wine in the meticulously manicured flower gardens. Mornings include waking to freshly brewed coffee and scones brought to guests’ rooms, followed by a full gourmet breakfast in the dining room prepared by hosts Tom and Nancy. Missoula—known as the Garden City and the cultural hub of Western Montana—has an array of restaurants, museums, galleries and boutique shopping, and endless recreational opportunities, like hiking to the M overlooking the Missoula Valley, or taking a short drive to explore Garnet Ghost Town, the National Bison Range or the Bitterroot Valley.

The grand entrance to the Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast.

Enjoy a cup of tea by the fire in the master suite.

Running Horse Inn Bed & Breakfast
This charming three-bedroom inn is located in Huson, Montana about 45 minutes west of Missoula off Interstate 90 in a beautiful valley setting. Guests choose from rooms with Wild West cowboy décor, Native American art or running horse inspired décor including a hand-hewn log bed and all rooms have a private bath. Mornings include a delicious breakfast and freshly brewed coffee provided by hostess Jan, and guests enjoy specialty drinks and appetizers in the afternoon. Nearby recreational activities include bird watching, nature walks, mountain biking, as well as fly-fishing and rafting on the Clark Fork River.

Enjoy a delicious breakfast at the Running Horse Inn.

Montana decor in every room.

Laughing Horse Lodge
Open May through October, the Laughing Horse Lodge is located in the Seeley-Swan Valley on Highway 83 at the southern end of Swan Lake. Guests choose from eight guest rooms decorated in true Montana style with log furniture, quilts and cowboy art, all with private entry and bathrooms. Mornings include freshly brewed coffee and a delicious hot breakfast in the dining room. Guests can enjoy the array of flowers in the central garden or the vegetable and herb garden used to make the lodge’s delectable meals. Wednesday through Sunday, guests can choose to have a farm-to-table dinner with host Kathleen as their personal chef, whose menus blend numerous ethnic influences. Reservations are required for this add-on. The Swan and Mission Mountain ranges offer hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. On-the-water recreation is also available, including kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding on the Swan River and Swan Lake.

Relax in the gardens of the Laughing Horse Lodge.

Private entrances amid the blossoms.

Hidden Moose Lodge
The Hidden Moose Lodge was designed to reflect Montana’s rustic beauty and rugged history. From the magnificent river rock fireplace—which is the focal point of the lodge—to the hearty Montana-sized breakfasts, this cozy 12-room lodge located in Whitefish welcomes visitors and makes them feel at home with hosts Kent and Kim. Additional amenities include complimentary evening beverages, an outdoor hot tub, Wi-Fi, a DVD library and a free winter ski shuttle to Whitefish Mountain Resort. Outdoor activities abound just outside the lodge doors, including Whitefish Lake and the Whitefish trail system for hiking and biking. Glacier National Park is a short 40-minute drive to the west entrance. Winter activities include skiing and snowboarding at the world-class Whitefish Mountain Resort. Downtown Whitefish is bustling year-round with quaint eateries and boutique shopping as well as a robust nightlife.

Guests relax around the stone fireplace at Hidden Moose Lodge.

The lodge among the trees.

The Garden Wall Inn
A small luxury bed-and-breakfast located in downtown Whitefish, The Garden Wall Inn’s hosts Rhonda and Chris provide exceptional service. Each guest room is decorated in 1920s décor, including the private bathrooms, but feature modern luxury like Egyptian cotton sheets and down comforters. Both chef-owners pride themselves on giving their guests farm-to-table culinary delights for breakfast and afternoon hors d’oeuvres. Guests start their mornings with freshly brewed coffee or tea delivered to their rooms as their wake-up call. From skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort to visiting Glacier National Park or staying in town to experience the local farmers market or downtown shopping, The Garden Wall Inn is close to it all.

Luxury awaits inside.

Coffee arrives as your wake up call.

Bison Creek Ranch
Tucked amidst the aspens and pines west of East Glacier Park and open May to October, this multigenerational family-owned and operated bed-and-breakfast offers three A-frame chalets and four rustic cabins along with a fantastic small restaurant that is open to the general public from 5 to 9 p.m. The cozy A-frames sleep up to six people and include small kitchens, living rooms, private baths and gorgeous views of the Rocky Mountains. Guests of Bison Creek Ranch enjoy a breakfast feast featuring huckleberry pancakes, omelets or crepes. Access to the east side of Glacier National Park is a big draw for this bed-and-breakfast. Visit Two Medicine Lake or Many Glacier and Swift Current Lake. Take the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road to the top of Logan Pass for spectacular views of Glacier National Park.

Views from Bison Creek Ranch.

Cozy cabins await.

Most of our smaller properties work directly with tour operators for the FIT market. If you have a smaller property that would interest your clients, please reach out to me and I can help facilitate the introduction to the international market, and a receptive tour operator that works with lodging in the Rocky Mountain region. For itinerary assistance, I am always here to help.

Visit soon,

DP

 

3 NOT-TO-BE-MISSED SPRING DESTINATIONS IN WESTERN MONTANA

Spring is always a welcome sight in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Don’t get me wrong, we are winter-loving snow enthusiasts, but when the powder starts melting and the birds start singing, well, WE LOVE THAT. Spring in Montana has a flair for the dramatic, with bright blue skies dotted with billowing clouds. Mountainsides filled with blooming wildflowers and emerging wildlife make it one of the loveliest seasons to visit, yet one that is relatively undiscovered. While we have lots of great spring destinations in Glacier Country, we’ve rounded up our top three to add to your spring itinerary.

The boat dock at Apgar Village in Glacier National Park.

Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is open year-round, and spring is one of the quietest times to explore, with less visitation than summer. The Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses the mountainside and doesn’t open in its entirety to vehicular traffic until the plows have finished removing the snow up at Logan Pass, around the 3rd weekend in June. However, the road is open earlier to walkers, runners, hikers and bicyclists. A favorite pastime for locals—that’s catching on with visitors—is biking the iconic road while it’s vehicle free. It’s a bit steep on the way up, but the views are breathtaking and the ride back down is swift and exhilarating.

Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Wildlife watching in Glacier National Park during the spring is always an exciting time, as new offspring can be spotted. (Be sure to keep a safe distance and never feed the animals.) Here are more tips on safely watching wildlife in the West.

Moose sighting in the spring.

Additional activities: red bus tours begin in late May with the Huckleberry Mountain Tour. Hiking is always a fun adventure this time of year. To find out which trails are clear of snow, visitors can call 406.888.7800.

Bigfork
Much like spring feels to summer, Bigfork is often overlooked as a place to visit over its larger and more well-known neighboring towns of Kalispell and Whitefish. However, Bigfork is one of the most charming towns you’ll discover in Western Montana. Sitting on the northeast shore of Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake in the Western U.S.—Bigfork hosts a variety of spring events, including Taste of Bigfork and the Bigfork Whitewater Festival at the end of May. Watch as kayakers paddle a class IV section of the “wild mile” on the Swan River. Take time to check out the art galleries, boutique shops and restaurants in downtown Bigfork along Electric Avenue.

Bigfork Whitewater Festival.

Downtown Bigfork, MT.

Missoula
Missoula’s ease of accessibility to the outdoors makes it a special spring destination. Less than an hour away is the National Bison Range and a host of wildlife viewing that takes place there every spring. Not only do bison roam the expansive 18,500-acre range, so do elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, coyote and bear, as well as multiple kinds of waterfowl.

Antelope roam the National Bison Range north of Missoula.

Missoula sits at the convergence of three rivers. The Blackfoot River and the Bitterroot River flow into the Clark Fork River, which flows through the heart of downtown Missoula. With the spring runoff, the rivers is high and the kayakers and surfers rejoice. Make sure to stop and watch them from Caras Park in downtown Missoula as they paddle on Brennan’s Wave.

Kayaker on Brennan’s Wave in downtown Missoula.

Join in on one of Missoula’s special spring events like the International Wildlife Film Festival or the Garden City Brewfest. Hike the M trail on Mount Sentinel for views of the sweeping valley below. Visit Fort Missoula to learn about the early settlement of the region or take a tour of the Missoula Smokejumper Visitor Center to get a glimpse of what life is like for the brave men and women who parachute into our national forests to fight wildfires. Missoula also has a thriving downtown with lively music and culinary scenes that will delight visitors of all ages.

Learn about professional Smokejumpers in Missoula.

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.

Happy spring,

DP