FOR A RURAL & RUSTIC RETREAT TRY

Montana

 


Northwest Montana is truly big sky country. It's the place to go if you want a mix of hiking, camping, shopping, and cooling down at a local craft brewery. You'll meet a mix of locals and out-of-towners and the town of Whitefish is well...one to experience. Read on for my lay of the land below.

 
 

 
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What do I want to do?

• HIKING: Everywhere in the park is fantastic for hiking! For my money, the Highline Hike is spectacular. I’d also recommend Avalanche Creek.  HikingGlacier.com was my go-to in planning what I wanted to do.
• DRINKINGCraft breweries abound in Glacier Country. The most well-known and worth a stop, are Great Northern Brewery and Kalispell Brewery in Whitefish and Kalispell, respectively. There’s also Glacier Distilling in Coram for those looking to taste some whiskey
• SHOPPING:  Downtown Whitefish has a (likely very purposefully done) quaint shopping area. It’s easy to get around, but keep in mind everything is a little pricey in Whitefish.

CAMPING: Campsites fill up quickly in Glacier! Fish Creek and Rising Sun campground are two of the better known ones that are still out-of-the-way enough to avoid the traffic. And Rising Sun even has showers on-site! Given the population of bears and other wildlife in the area, if you’re traveling alone, it is NOT recommended that you camp by yourself outside of official campground areas. 
MEETING FELLOW TRAVELERS: The bars and restaurants along Central Avenue in Whitefish attract both locals and out-of-towners looking to trade travel stories. 

 

Important Tips

BOOK IN ADVANCE
If you’re looking to stay in the park, either camping or at one of the lodges, book in advance. They fill up quickly! Some campsites are reserved day-of, but as you will need to get there early in the morning to claim, it's best to have at least one night reserved in advance. 

SHUTTLES TO TOWN
There are ways to get to/from the main towns and the park via shuttles, but check the schedules in advance. 

YOU WILL NEED BEAR SPRAY
If you’re hiking or camping in Glacier National Park, you will need bear spray. It can be purchased in Montana, or (and I highly recommend for short stays) you can rent it from Glacier Outfitters, which conveniently has a small store in Apgar Village.

DO NOT PURCHASE BEAR SPRAY BEFORE ARRIVING
Please note you CANNOT under any circumstances take bear spray on an airplane. Either in your carry-on or checked baggage. Do not buy in advance to take with you, it will get confiscated.

 
 

Racist Activities

Whitefish and the surrounding towns have been in the spotlight over the past year as it was home to Nazi activist Richard Spencer. While he’s no longer associated with the town, and the town overall hates the association, there is a (small) underbelly of people sympathetic to his views that exist in the area. More can be found about it here (featuring my Airbnb host as one of the counter-protesters!) as well as on my blog post about Whitefish.

 

Arrival

  • Glacier Kalispell International Airport is pretty compact. Getting in and out is incredibly easy, and car rentals are a breeze. 
  • There are also Amtrak stations in Whitefish and West Glacier if you’re arriving by train. It’s along the breathtaking Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle/Portland. The Whitefish station is conveniently right downtown. 
 
 

QUICK GUIDE

  • Language: English
  • LGBT-Friendly: Yes
  • Female-Friendly: Yes
  • Best Time of Year: Mid-summer for hiking, Winter for skiing
  • Price: Pricey (unless you're camping)
  • Duration: 4 days
  • Transportation: Rental car
  • Currency: US Dollar
  • Credit Card-Friendly: Yes
  • Wi-Fi Friendly: Yes

BEFORE YOU GO

Book in advance if you're looking to stay in the park (camping or at a lodge). They fill up quickly! More important tips below.

You will need BEAR SPRAY if you're hiking in Glacier National Park. It can be purchased or rented. It CANNOT under any circumstances be taken on an plane.

Purchase bear spray upon your arrival in Montana, NOT before.

Purchase bear spray upon your arrival in Montana, NOT before.

Tips for Solo Travel in Montana

MONTANANS ARE INCREDIBLY FRIENDLY AND OPEN
I had more and lengthier conversations with my waiters, bartenders, and grocery store workers than I’ve had anywhere else. At no point did anyone look taken aback that I was traveling alone. They just accepted that people sometimes need a few days to themselves. A sentiment I can get behind.

HIKING = GREAT CONVERSATION
Hiking in the park leads to a lot of conversations and friendships struck up on the trail or at the shuttle stops. Just be careful if you’re hiking on less-populated trails, as cell service is basically non-existent outside of town.

WHITEFISH IS TOURISTY YET FRIENDLY
As Whitefish is a pretty touristy town, with skiing in the winter and fishing, hiking, and sightseeing in the summer, most of the bars around town are pretty friendly and lead to a lot of struck-up conversations. 

NO RENTAL CAR, NO PROBLEM
If you don’t want to rent a car, there is a shuttle service that goes from Whitefish into the park and goes out from Whitefish out to the ski mountain in the winter!