Road Trip: Kalispell

Lone Pine State Park by Chuck Haney
Flathead cycling by Donnie Sexton / Travel Montana

Road Trip: Kalispell

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Nickell, Joe

Summer adventure in every direction.

To the east: the soaring peaks of Glacier National Park. To the south: Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River. Everywhere around: historic charm, affordable adventure and soul-stirring beauty.

 In the middle of it all lies the vibrant mountain town of Kalispell. Located just a few miles from the entrance to Glacier, Kalispell serves as a launching point for striking out in search of adventure in every direction.

Kalispell is an ideal location to base lake excursions and summer mountain adventures. On the waters of Flathead Lake, pick from leisurely boat rides to more throttle-happy adventures. Far West Boat Tours, based in Lakeside, offers daily cruises on the historic Montana cruise ship, the Far West, for a relaxing and educational lake tour. Several businesses along the lake offer watercraft rentals, and Flathead Lake’s six state parks feature boat ramps and public beach access.

In case you haven’t heard, the fishing here is splendid. Just ask the thousands of people who chase lunker lake trout in the semi-annual Mack Days fishing tournaments; or the throngs of avid fishermen who pursue the plentiful Lake Superior whitefish, perch, and northern pike… to name just a few.

If a mountain playground is more your style, Whitefish Mountain Resort has plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy all-encompassing views of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park. Take the gondola to the summit of Big Mountain and hike or mountain bike down. For more treetop adventure, soar above the mountainside on the resort’s zipline, or stroll along the footbridges suspended between the forest giants in the Walk in the Treetops. 

Of course, the most famous attraction here is Glacier National Park. Located just a short drive from downtown Kalispell, the Park welcomes visitors to a landscape that seems plucked from pure fantasy. This is a backcountry hiker’s paradise—boasting more than 700 miles of well-maintained trails that range from breathtaking ridge-runs to leisurely creekside tracks. Guided horseback tours are also available.

Kalispell itself celebrates summer with a variety of events and festivals attracting locals and visitors. Every Thursday evening from June 27 through August 29, downtown Kalispell hosts Thursday!Fest, with live music and a food festival that includes a farmers’ market and a beer/wine garden, as well as local arts vendors. Ongoing throughout the summer is the twice-weekly Picnic in the Park concert series, taking place Tuesdays from 7-9pm, and Wednesdays from 11:30am to 1:30pm in Depot Park. 

The Event at Rebecca Farms is the biggest equestrian competition of its kind in the United States. Held July 25-28, The Event draws more than 450 competitors, 350 volunteers, and over 20,000 spectators each year. In addition to the competition, a trade fair runs throughout the weekend, offering a range of locally produced crafts and food concessions.

 The Montana Dragon Boat Festival is happening on September 7 and 8, and is expected to draw thousands of spectators to the shores of Flathead Lake for two days of exciting team races in Hong Kong-style, 46-foot dragon boats are distinguished by a dragonhead at the bow and a dragon tail at the stern.

The Huckleberry 100, also in September, draws cyclists from across the region to participate in a scenic, noncompetitive 100-mile route through the most prominent towns and scenic byways of the Flathead Valley.

Kalispell is the place to stock up on gear for your Montana adventures. Start your day in town by heading to the Visitor Center in the old train station in Depot Park to pick up a walking tour brochure. Make sure to ask for a wooden coin—good for $5 toward a purchase of $25 or more from one of the many local businesses you’ll find as you follow your itinerary.

Locally owned and competitively priced, Sportsman & Ski Haus offers everything you and your family will need to venture into the backcountry—or to spend a lazy day by the lake. Wheaton’s, located in downtown Kalispell, offers great deals on bikes and skateboards.

Visit discoverkalispell.com to start planning your trip today.

 

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