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.

Great Northwest Oktoberfest
Great Northwest Oktoberfest | Source

Many Festivals

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.

Bar W Guest Ranch
Bar W Guest Ranch | Source

Dude Ranches

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
(406) 863-9099

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.

Whitefish Lake
Whitefish Lake | Source

Whitefish Lake

Located 1 mile west of Whitefish on U.S. 93, then 1 mile north
(406) 862-3991

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 | Source

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
(406) 862-0067

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.


Whitefish Museum

500 Depot St, at the end of Central and Spokane avenues
(406) 862-0067

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.

 Glacier Symphony Orchestra
Glacier Symphony Orchestra | Source

O’Shaughnessy Cultural Arts Center

1 Central Ave
(406) 862-5371

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
(800) 858-4152

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
(406) 863-1000

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.

Downtown Whitefish
Downtown Whitefish | Source

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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Comments 36 comments

dwachira profile image

dwachira 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

I would like to visit Whitefish Montana one day, sounds like a great place to make a worthy vacation. I love any place with deep cultural values. The photos are great, voted up, interesting and shared.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thank you dwachira Yes, deep cultural values are very important. Thanks for the vote

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Oh my gosh...this sounds so beautiful! Are you on the Chamber of Commerce for Whitefish, Montana? If not...you should be! This hub of yours may inspire a visit from us sooner rather than later. I love nature and this place has that and so much more! Voted up, useful, interesting and will share with my followers. Thanks!

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thank you Peggy W. No, I am not on the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce. But I love it here. I just recently moved back after 15 or so years. I knew I wanted to retire hear so I took the plunge last October. I am always in awe and count my blessing everyday for living in "Gods' country.

Do plan a visit. It will be a vacation you will remember for a lifetime. A great way to travel here is by Amtrak so you can relax and enjoy the back-country. But regardless, it is well worth the trip.

Ty on the kudos, it is well appreciated.

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kumar24894 4 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

Hey , sounds similar to Kashmir, but more interesting than that place. It will be fascinating to watch Mountain Lions ( If they will not attack). It is my dream to watch the Dude Ranches playing with the wild horses. The scenery of White Lake is so beautiful, I love such scenery.

Thanks for the information. Sharing it !

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Kumara, it is a paradise here. Aside from dude ranches there are numerous horse ranches. We also have bear and moose that come right into town. There has been a mountain lion hanging around my house lately. I have found big game such as deer alongside the road. The nature of life I suppose. The animals do not bother you unless you provoke them or you run into a mama bear and her cub then look out. Noise and being aware in the woods are key to survival. I plan on going huckleberry picking next week and will make ample noise (not to load, it upsets the environment).

TY for the kudos, it is well appreciated. I will read your Hub on Rome.

rlbert00 profile image

rlbert00 4 years ago from USA

mecheshier...What a comprehensive look at Whitefish, I have been a huge fan of the entire Flathead Valley since members of my family purchased a home on the Flathead River just north of the lake. It is gorgeous there and your hub has provided me with some activities to pursue the next time we go up there. Nicely done.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

ribertoo. Thank you for the wonderful feedback. Yes, I love the Flathead valley and all it has to offer. It is a paradise.

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kumar24894 4 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

The mountain lion never attacked anyone there?

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Rarely, but it does happen.

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kumar24894 4 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

Okay !

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kumar24894 4 years ago from Fuck of HUBPAGES

Hey I have published the hub about Rome. It is still under publication but you can read it.


bn9900 profile image

bn9900 4 years ago from Alger WA

Wonderful Hub, love it. I love trains and history, and Whitefish is a culmination of the two. Whitefish was and is a railroad town. The Great Northern Railway built through Whitefish in 1890 and the station that is now partly a museum was built in 1927, replacing an older structure. The BNSF railway still has offices on the second level, and the Empire Builder still calls twice a day, and this station is the busiest station en route. The Great Northern donated one of the rarest locomotives an NW 5 #181 to be displayed. Very historical.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thank you bn9900. Whitefish is a culmination of so many things. Yes I knew the history of the railroad. My Hub was so long already, I didn't want to over-saturate my readers. I think a Hub on just the Great Northern Railway would be great. Thank you fro such wonderful feedback.

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Ginger Ruffles 4 years ago

Well I'm ready to pack my bags and come visit! Haven't been to Montana yet but you have certainly piqued my interest in doing so.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Ginger, I have traveled far and wide. You could spend a lifetime exploring this area. TY for the feedback.

bn9900 profile image

bn9900 4 years ago from Alger WA

Already beat you to it. I don't know if you can advertise you're own hubs on comments but I wrote a hub on the GN already.

TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

TIMETRAVELER2 4 years ago

I've been to Whitefish and must agree it's a lovely place! This was a beautifully done hub. Voted up.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

I am not sure either. But I did find your GN Hub and also commented on it. Lovely and very informative.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Yes indeed, it is wonderful. Thank you for the feedback and vote. :-)

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Cool. I shall read it.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

I tried to find it but the Hub was gone. You really should publish it!

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Milli Thornton 4 years ago

This looks and sounds incredible!

I grew up until age 12 in Great Falls, Montana but haven't been back to MT in decades. If I get a chance to go back, your Hub has convinced me to put Whitefish on my list of ultimate places to go in that state. From your run-down, there's so much to see and do there, it's like a one-stop shop for everything great about Montana.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Yes, it is like a one-stop shop and a small quaint town at that. I found Whitefish years ago but could not stay. I knew I would come back someday. Yeah, last Oct. was the big move. I couldn't be happier. You must pay a visit on your next trip to MT.

Thanks for the great feedback!

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Milli Thornton 4 years ago

Wow, you liked it so much you moved there. Judging from your Hub, if one couldn't be happy there, then one couldn't be happy anyway.

I'm not a city girl whatsoever so the idea of living in a small quaint town sounds pretty wonderful. Good for you!

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Yes Milla, like you, city life is not my thing. You are right. If one cannot be happy here in Whitefish then there is a problem.

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Travelwyse 4 years ago

Thanks for the great hub. I've been to Whitefish a few time - but it looks like I'll have to go back again! :)

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thanks Travelwyse. Yes Whitefish is definitely a great place to visit.

mperrottet profile image

mperrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

This is a great list of things to do in the Whitefish area, and I'm going to bookmark it for future reference. I visited Whitefish in 2010 while we were staying at a campground outside of Glacier National Park, but had no idea that there were so many interesting things to do in this area. Voted Up, interesting and useful!

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thank you mperrottet for such wonderful feedback. I am glad that you liked the article. Hope to see you soon in Whitefish.

SommerDalton profile image

SommerDalton 4 years ago

Very detailed and informative! Im very close to Whitefish and my husband and I just spent the day there on Monday:). Voted up and more!

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Thank you Sommer Dalton for the vote and wonderful feedback. Hope you enjoy your visit.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Very informative hub. I love traveling topic and through this hub I found beautiful place. Actually, I had never heard about Whitefish Montana. Nice presentation and very well written. You write all about Whitefish Montana completely. I hope I can visit this place one day. Voted up!


mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 4 years ago Author

Hi Prasetio

Thank you for your kind words and vote. Yes, Whitefish is a beautiful place. A must see. :-)

annart profile image

annart 2 years ago from SW England

What an amazing place with so much to do! I'd love to see all those wonderful birds in the wild, the Glacier Mountain Park and that lake. You've taken us on a fascinating journey and given us lots of useful detail. Great hub! Voted up ++. Ann

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 2 years ago Author

Hi Ann

Yes, I live in an amazing place. Thank you for such wonderful feedback and votes! I am so glad that you enjoyed the article. Mary

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