Whitefish Montana | Small Town, Big Adventure
Travel to Whitefish Montana
Whitefish Montana, well known as the island of culture, is surrounded by pristine mountains and vast countryside’s filled with an abundance of wildlife. Where western living meets modern arts, the town is sure to inspire the most advantageous and leave one in awe. Not only is it one of the friendliest towns in the US but it is a paradise you will never forget.
The town is very down to earth and has a low-key atmosphere making it a very enjoyable and a warm place to travel to and visit. Although Whitefish maintains a low profile it is not uncommon to see a famous person walking down the street. Nonetheless, the community measures success not by financial prestige but by the numerous mountains you have climbed, fish you have caught or number of runs you have skied.
There is more wildlife in northern Montana than most any state in America. During a visit you may see bears, deer, moose, mountain lions, skunk, big horn sheep, bats, porcupines, wolves, and horses. Likewise, there are more than 260 species of birds in the area including owls, hawks, eagles, hummingbirds, geese, swans, nuthatches, woodpeckers and Old World warblers.
With picturesque valleys filled with flowers and bold glacier peaks, you will soon find that it could take a lifetime to explore the area. There are also various ecosystems such as tundra, prairie and forests of hemlock and red cedar. Nearby is the breathtaking Glacier National Park, but I doubt if you'll have time to explore the national park while you travel for Whitefish alone is filled with fascinating adventure and festival.
What's more, there are thousands of family-friendly things to do in Whitefish and the surrounding area. Destinations can include the local Whitefish Lake, museums, the summer and winter activities at the Whitefish Mountain Resort and of course local dude ranches.
Whitefish loves a good festival. In fact, I think this town is always searching for a new way to celebrate. A holiday festival includes the legendary Whitefish Winter Carnival that has been celebrated for over 52 years, the Great Northwest Oktoberfest that lasts two week-ends filled with authentic German music, food, and beer, and the Huckleberry Days that celebrates the native wild huckleberry with music, food and an art fair. Year round there are a variety of events like BBQ cook-offs, sled races, bike races, marathons, arts and crafts, farmers market and concerts. If you like a good festival then Whitefish is the place to travel.
Galleries & More
The streets of downtown Whitefish are lined with galleries, mercantile shops, casual and fine dining, gift boutiques, cultural exhibits, espresso bars and breweries. At first glance you might think you were in the Swiss Alps with the authentic architecture and festival atmosphere. In fact, you can almost picture cobblestone streets and candlelit street lamps. There are shops where you can find local pottery, metalwork, old west furniture and contemporary décor. If you are an art buff you can enjoy the Whitefish Gallery Nights that take place every first Thursday of each month from May to October.
When people think places to travel in Montana invariably the first thing that comes to mind are dude ranches with wild horses. Although Whitefish is a multi-cultural town they most definitely have some of the best dude ranches around. Some of the most popular dude ranches near Whitefish are Bar W Guest Ranch, Averill’s Flathead Lake Guest Ranch, Diamond R Guest Ranch and Gaynors Riverbed Ranch Inc.
Bar W Guest Ranch
2875 US Highway 93 West, Whitefish, MT 59937
Bar W Ranch is located on Spencer Lake which is a 3.5 miles travel from Whitefish. It is ideally situated at the base of Spencer Mountain between two pine-covered ridges. The dude ranch has access to over 3,000 acres for outdoor activities such as horseback-riding, lake fishing (pike, perch or bass), boating, riding lessons, camping, swimming and hiking. The ranch has a 6,200-square-foot lodge that is a combination of traditional western and classic elegance. There are cabin suites, indoor and outdoor arenas, stables, a barn, a gazebo on the lake, entertainment, riding lessons, advanced lessons for roping and penning, cowpoke lessons for beginners, square dancing and wagon rides.
Gaynor Ranch & Resort
406-862-3802 - Phone
866-862-6202 - Toll Free
The Ranch Cabins
1992 KM Ranch Road
Cabins in the Woods
6544 Farm to Market Road
The Gaynor Ranch offers old west hospitality at big ranch cabins or a remote cozy cabin in the forest. It is located 10 minutes travel from Whitefish in a quit pristine area of the woods. Each cabin has hardwood floors, amazing western décor, full kitchens and laundry facilities and down comforters for cold winter nights. Some of the many adventurous events include riding, roping, fishing, swimming in a nearby river, practicing bull riding, hiking, biking, wagon rides, floating the river, BBQ's on Sunday, sleeping in a teepee, western potlucks, and a professional massage after a full eventful day.
Glacier National Park
Located 43 minutes from Whitefish
26.9 mi on MT-40 E and US-2 E
Glacier Park, Inc.:(406) 892-2525 Website: glacierparkinc.com
National Park Service:(406) 888-7800 Website: nps.gov/glac
Before entering Glacier National Park an absolute must stop is in West Glacier at the historical Belton Chalet. It is the first Great Northern Railway hotel built in 1910. It welcomed guests arriving by train way before roads were built across the Continental Divide. The guests were pampered at this Swiss-style chalet with a flowering arbor, cozy stone fireplaces and elegant meals. Today the restored Belton Chalet offers fine dining, exquisite rooms, historic lodge lobby with open stone fireplace and reading area, a spa,live performances, wake up calls for the northern lights and unmatched Glacier National Park scenery.
You can travel to Glacier National Park in your car; take the local Red Bus Tour or ride the Amtrak. If you want to get off the beaten path it might be best to drive yourself. But even if you do not plan on hiking, one of the most incredible things to see is a drive on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The well named road is a 50 mile span of spectacular sites that winds in and out of the mountainsides.
Glacier National Park is known as the “Crown of the Continent”. It has over 700 miles of trail to explore, 1,000,000 acres of wooded area, alpine meadows, plus over 70 species of mammals and more than 260 species of birds. As well, there are numerous lakes that are breathtaking and have majestic mountain peaks right on the shore. Lakes that you can drive to are Lake McDonald, Bowman Lake, Two Medicine Lake, St. Mary Lake and Swiftcurrent Lake. The St. Mary’s Lake alone has 9 peaks that are visible from the shore.
Likewise, there are numerous lakes that require a bit of a hike to reach. However, to preserve the lakes there are certain park regulations. It is best to check with the Glacier Park office before launching a boat or a canoe. All airboats and personal watercrafts like jet skis are prohibited on all lakes in Glacier Park.
For the adventurer about 9.8 miles travel from the Saint Mary Entrance you will find the Sun Point Nature Trail. This trail follows the shoreline giving fabulous views and then ends at a pleasant waterfall named Baring Falls. Another fabulous falls is Virginia Falls located along Virginia creek. You can hear the roar of the waterfall way before your arrival, for it is fifty feet high and falls straight down.
If you want to go camping it is allowed only on designated park campgrounds, both front country and backcountry. Again, check with the Glacier Park office or website to make sure you are not violating any rules and regulations.
Aside from driving the spectacular Going-to-the-Sun Road and hiking one of the 700 miles of trail there are a wide array of activities to fit your needs such as white water rafting, fishing at several backcountry lakes (cutthroat trout, northern pike, whitefish, brook and rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, grayling and burbot), biking, camping, ranger-led activities, boating, stock use (horses, donkeys, mules, llama) and cross-country skiing.
If you plan on hiking make sure you are prepared for all types of weather, summer temperatures can range from the upper 80’s to a low of 20’. Furthermore, watch out for grizzly bears. While guns are not allowed, it is highly recommended by Glacier Park officials to never travel alone and groups of 3 or more are suggested. There are also other tricks that can be used such as not wearing sweet smelling perfume or sunscreen, always stay alert, and hike slowly.
Located 1 mile west of Whitefish on U.S. 93, then 1 mile north
The Whitefish Lake is located very close to town and offers a small park surrounded by an ancient forest, a nice campground, a sandy beach and boat launch. It is a quiet lake about a mile wide and seven miles long. There is camping for tents and RVs that include toiletries, shower facilities, grills, and picnic tables. There are also several guest homes and condominiums on the lake that have full amenities.
Some of the more popular activities include swimming, boating, fishing, and water-skiing. For fisherman or fisher-woman you can often find fish that exceed twenty pounds like large mountain whitefish, rainbow trout, bull trout and northern pike.
The Whitefish Trail
The Whitefish Trail consists of picturesque overlooks, twists and loops, logging roads and slippery solitary-footpath trails. It was created by amazing efforts from several sponsors; Whitefish Legacy Partners, Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, City of Whitefish, Montana State Parks, US Forest Service, recreation supporters and private conservation groups. The trail provides access to numerous sites like Spencer Mountain, Lion Mountain, Skyles Lake and Beaver Lake. This remarkable trail is ideal for all ages that enjoy hiking, biking, running and site seeing. Future extensions of the trail include Lazy and Swift Creeks, Haskill Basin and Whitefish Mountain Resort.
Stumptown Historical Society
544-598 Depot St
The Stumptown or Whitefish Historical Society was established in 1982 by individuals dedicated to preserving the history of Whitefish, Flathead Valley and Montana. Today there are numerous members from all parts of the USA and Canada. In 1990 the Historical Society attained the Whitefish Railway Depot from Burlington Northern Railroad. The Society and numerous volunteers spent three years restoring the Depot. On the ground floor of the 1927 building there are offices for Amtrak with a waiting room and also the Whitefish Museum. On the entire second floor is Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
500 Depot St, at the end of Central and Spokane avenues
The Whitefish Museum has a very wide selection of historic displays and artifacts that craftily illustrates the railroads and town’s mining history. There is an old railroad telegraph system and several century old pictures of what Whitefish used to look like. By the depot is an old Great Northern locomotive that has been restored to its original 1950’s form. The museum is open year round and has free admission. The history and architecture alone is well worth the travel to Whitefish.
O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center
1 Central Ave
The cultural arts center is the main location for productions from the Alpine Theatre Project and Whitefish Theatre Company. The main theater seats 326 on three sides and houses a variety of art shows, workshops, quilt displays, photography, concerts, film, dance and local fairs.
Established in 1978 and by 1988 it was so busy a full time artistic director was hired. Today the O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center provides an array of world-class performers containing classical, jazz, vaudeville, country and rock concerts.
If you plan to travel to Whitefish and wish to see a show, call ahead of time for a schedule of events for tickets sometimes sell out quickly.
Whitefish Mountain Resort
3840 Big Mountain Road
8 miles north of Whitefish
Located less than 10 minutes away depending on the weather, the Whitefish Mountain Resort is a favorite place to travel for many. The resort is one of the 10 largest ski resorts in the US. It offers 3,000 skiable acres, 94 runs, 13 lifts including, 3 high-speed quad chairlifts and 16 kilometers of cross-country ski trails. According to SKI Magazine, it quite often ranks in the top 20 North American ski resorts. Wintertime is filled with skiing, Nordic trail adventures, dog sled racing, sleigh rides and a free shuttle bus that runs daily between Whitefish and Glacier Village.
The village has a lot to offer, located at nearly 7,000 feet with views of Glacier National Park and the Flathead valley you can find espresso bars, casual cafes, fine dining with award-winning chefs, a world famous ski bar once voted "Canada's Favorite Bar”, a village market, gift shops, outfitting stores and unique day spas. Lodging is also available from small studios to large homes and realty.
In the summer the resort offers a remarkable selection of activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, riding the lifts for a scenic view and even a walking the treetops. The walk on the treetops extends 800 feet and has footbridges that link each tree. The highest point is 70 feet and is extremely safety oriented. There is also a great place for kids called Spider Monkey Mountain. Kids four and older are challenged to find their way through 4 webbed floors. Once at the top a child can either climb back down through the webbing or glide down the giant slide.
Great Northern Brewing Company
2 Central Avenue
The brewery has the annual capacity of 8,000 barrels utilizing the artisan traditional "Gravity Flow" method. Started by Minott Wessinger who is the great-great grandson of Henry Weinhard, the brewery offers premium quality lagers and ales in a variety of seasonal and year-round elegance.
Whitefish, Montana was chosen as the home for the brewery because of its pristine water, nearby national park, bold yet beautiful environment and for its fascinating history. Some of the brews include Double Hopped Golden Lager, Buckin' Horse Pilsner, Wild Huckleberry Wheat, Hellroaring Amber Lager and Going to the Sun IPA .
The Great Northern Brewing Company is a favored among locals and tourists for live music, spacious architecture and pool hall. The brewery also has summer tours Monday thru Friday, at 1 and 3 pm where all ages are welcome.
Whitefish Lake Golf Club
1200 US Highway 93 N
1 mile from the center of Whitefish
Pro Shop (406) 862-5960
Tee Times (406) 862-4000
The Whitefish Lake Golf Club delivers a challenging course with amazing lake views. It has fast tough greens that are in excellent condition. It also offers free lessons for kids’ ages 5 to 17, several accommodations such as a pro shop, an indoor kid friendly clubhouse for casual dining, open-air dining on the deck and relaxed fine dining where reservations are recommended.
North Course: Has 18 holes over 6,556 yards with a par of 72 (Public). Provides open views of Whitefish Lake and Big Mountain
South Course: Has 18 holes over 6,556 yards with a par of 72 (Public) Provides an open view of Big Mountain and the course slinks towards Lost Coon Lake.
National Bison Range
98 miles south of Whitefish
58355 Bison Range Rd
Moiese MT 59824
+1 406 644 2211
The National Bison Range is a little out of the way but well worth the travel. It is around 9,000 acres of grasslands and timber preserved for 300 or more bison, whitetail and mule deer, elk, pronghorns, bighorn sheep and black bear. The reserve is open all year and depending on the season the hours will vary. There is a Visitor Center that provides great education on the bison’s history. Of interest is also an exhibit that displays a three-dimensional map specifying where you can currently see the bison.
There is a self-guided drive on Red Sleep Mountain Road that takes around two hours to tour. There is also the Buffalo Prairie Drive that only takes 30 minutes. An important tip to remember is to respect the bison for they can be dangerous and impulsive. They appear to be very slow moving but a bison can run as fast as a horse. Never put yourself in a place where the bison can reach you. Likewise, do not run for they will usually charge.
Green Living in Whitefish Montana
Whitefish Montana is an amazing sustainable green town, it is one of the most Eco-friendly towns for their size. With a population as small as 6357 (2010 census) it has over 50 businesses that are listed as Montana Business Leaders for Clean Energy. From green homes to utilizing wind energy, Whitefish is definitely in the limelight for sustainable living. Check out the many businesses that have contributed to reducing their carbon footprint in the world: Green Living in Whitefish Montana
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