The Montana Flathead is an area from Whitefish to Big Fork. It’s a wide, flat valley on the western edge of the state that offers a variety of activities. A favorite escape for Calgarians, here are more than a dozen ideas to relax and unplug on your Montana vacation.
1. Drive the Going to the Sun Road
One of the most spectacularly scenic and daredevil drives you’ll ever take. The road soars through Glacier National Park to Logan Pass. It’s usually open June – September.
A cute little town on the western end of the Going to the Sun Road, Apgar is a collection of souvenir shops, cafes and ice cream stands. Bring a picnic lunch to relax on the shores of Macdonald Lake, your boat to get out on the water, or your tent to camp at one of the nearby sites.
3. Visit Target and Costco in Kalispell
We’re still 2 years away from having Target in Canada, so spending half a day wandering the bargain aisles of Tar-zhay is a good morning spent. Pop across the highway to Costco to pick up supplies for your stay, specifically booze. They sell wine and beer at Costco in the US and the deals are astounding.
4. Swim at City Beach
Whitefish Lake is cold. Very cold. If you need to cool off on a hot day, it’s a fine place to dip your toes in. There’s a boat launch here too and you’ll see dozens of JetSkis turning donuts. The beach itself is short, just a few hundred metres long, but it’s one of the only stretches of sand you’ll find along Whitefish Lake.
5. Zipline, Mountain Bike, Alpine Slide, Treetop Tour at Big Mountain
Like many mountain resorts, once the snow melts Big Mountain makes the transition to summer playground. You can take the chair to the top and ride a mountain bike or hike back down. You can wander the treetops or skim them on a zip line. We chose the alpine slide, a luge-like blast down the side of one of runs.
6. Walk Historic Whitefish
Many of the buildings on the main drag of downtown Whitefish are original. Each has a plaque on the side telling you the history of the building and a story about the original retailer. You can string them together for a nice stroll to learn some history while you shop at the new merchants.
7. Go fishing
The state responsible for A River Runs Through It has many signs along the main highways pointing to fishing spots. Whether it be fly fishing or just casting a hook and bobber from shore with your kid, magical and peaceful moments on the water are to be had all over the Flathead.
8. Pick Huckleberries
If you’re in the valley in August, you’ll want to find a huckleberry patch. The tiny little purple berries are a calling card of the area and found in everything from lotions to syrup. The bears love them too, so be careful where you stop to pick them in Glacier National Park. If you’re in the Flathead in the off season, there are many shops to pick up variations on the tasty treats.
9. Whitewater rafting, golfing, helicopter rides
Extreme activities line the valley with many chances to get wet in the Flathead or Hungry Horse river. Helicopter tour companies line the area just outside Glacier National Park for those to frightened to drive the Going To The Sun Road but would like a higher view and golf greens are tucked around the area too including Montana‘s only 36 hole track.
10. Watch the races at Montana Raceway Park
It’s a little bit of Southern Americana in the Northwest. You can hear the roar of engines as you make the commute between Kalispell and Whitefish and the tailgates are calling.
11. Ride your bike to the top of big mountain
It’s not quite L’Alpe D’Huez, Col du Tourmalet or Mont Ventoux, but the ride up Big Mountain is still a fave for area cyclists. There’s a separate paved cycling path along the east side of Whitefish Lake so you can stretch out your ride a bit.