Visiting Western Montana – Things to do in Glacier Country in the Winter Part 1
For the outdoor enthusiast
If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, Whitefish Mountain Resort was ranked No. 9 in the top U.S. Western Ski Resorts in 2016, according to Skinet.com. With the highest elevation at just 6,800 and a base elevation of 4,400, it’s easier to adjust to the altitude here than at other ski resorts. There are also 3,000 acres, 2,253 vertical feet, and 105 marked ski trails, many with views of Glacier National Park. One of the big advantages to planning a ski vacation to Whitefish is that accommodations are more affordable than many other ski towns and resorts (like Park City) and the lines are shorter. Opening day is December 7, 2016.
Glacier National Park
Known as the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park is one of America’s great wonders. Much of the park is closed in the winter, but you can see a few viewing points, such as Lake McDonald on the west side, depending on the weather. The intermittent snow squalls, fog, sun, and clouds create mystical silvery and blue skies and surreal scenery of the lake and mountains. You can also visit interior parts of the park on weekends to snowshoe or go cross-country skiing with a guide. For the more adventurous, go backcountry camping. Refer to the park’s website for more information on these activities and road closures.
It’s not often you get the chance to go dog sledding while guiding a team of your own Inuit sled dogs, but you can do it at Base Camp Bigfork with owner and guide Mark Schurke. Check that off your bucket list after hitting the trails and taking an exhilarating ride of a lifetime. If riding a snowmobile is your preferred method of transportation, then book a tour through Flathead Valley with Swan Mountain Snowmobiling.
Or for a more subdued and romantic ride through a winter wonderland, hop on board a sleigh at Bar W Guest Ranch, a dude ranch, in Whitefish. They provide the blankets to keep you bundled up tight and warm beverages and snacks indoors after your memorable horse-drawn ride through the snow.
Museums, Arts and Theater
There is an impressive and active arts and theater community in Western Montana. The MCT Center for the Performing Arts in Missoula is home to a talented group of adults performing plays and musicals throughout the year as well as their world-renowned Children’s Theater group. The Missoula Art Museum (MAM) highlights the works of Native American and local artists with ever-changing exhibits.
For a step back in time, visit Kalispell’s Conrad Mansion Museum. Built in 1895, this home is a well-preserved example of 19th century life for the upper class in Montana and former home of Charles E. Conrad, one of the founders of Kalispell.
If you’re into western and Native American history, set up an appointment to tour the Holt Heritage Museum and see the fascinating private collection and memorabilia of Bill and Ramona Holt in Lolo, Montana. Afterward, head across the road to visit Travelers Rest State Park, where Lewis & Clark Corps of Discovery visited twice.
How to get there
The two airports servicing this area are Missoula International Airport, 5 miles from the town of Missoula, and Glacier Park Airport, which is located between Kalispell and Columbia Falls. Many flights coming from the east are routed through Salt Lake City. It’s a short flight from Salt Lake City with beautiful views of the mountains along the way, so be sure to get a window seat so you don’t miss nature’s majestic beauty from above.
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Disclosure – We worked with Glacier Country Tourism on this trip. As always, the opinions expressed are our own.