From LA’s Montana Avenue to the wide-open spaces and snow-covered landscapes of Big Sky Country, it’s easy to get to Kalispell, Montana this winter. A mountain town that’s best described as unassuming, welcoming, and friendly, Kalispell is situated in a wide valley surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. And with 300+ inches of snowfall that blanket the area’s high elevations, Kalispell is a snow-lover’s dream destination.
The hub of northwest Montana, Kalispell is within easy reach of two downhill ski destinations – Blacktail Mountain Ski Area and Whitefish Mountain Resort. Both resorts welcome fresh snow throughout the season, as storms dump light powder on the Salish, Swan and Whitefish Mountain Ranges. For skiing and snowboarding, it doesn’t get much better than this corner of Montana. Plus, when you book a two-night stay at a Kalispell hotel through the Winter in Kalispell Ski Package, you’ll receive two adult lift tickets to your choice of Whitefish Mountain Resort or Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. And with a flight time of under 6 hours from LAX to Kalispell’s Glacier Park International Airport (FCA), you can be on the slopes in no time.
A few other ski-loving stats: Whitefish Mountain Resort – which sits north of Kalispell – is celebrating its 75th anniversary this winter, has 111 marked trails across 3,000 acres and boasts 360-degree views into Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley. Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, which is a scenic drive south of Kalispell, has panoramic views of Flathead Lake, with 29 trails across 1,000 acres. Blacktail Mountain is also part of the Indy Pass, which means pass holders get two free lift tickets to the ski area.
While skiing and snowboarding are high on the list for many winter vacationers, there are abundant off-the-slopes activities just waiting to be experienced in Kalispell.
Kalispell’s downtown corridor is a mix of cool history and modern-day vibrancy. Its Main Street and avenues are walkable and are the perfect place to stroll through a cozy slice of Montana. With a storybook-like charm, downtown is home to local businesses, boutiques, restaurants, galleries, breweries, and watering holes, all of which emanate the wild spirit of this place. Sip on a made-right-here beer at Bias Brewing, enjoy tapas-style dining at Alchemy Lounge, dig into local steak at Kalispell Mercantile and get an authentic pair of cowboy boots at Western Outdoors or the latest winter gear at The Toggery.
And if you’re ready to cozy up indoors, check out Kalispell’s past and present at Conrad Mansion Museum, Hockaday Museum of Art – which has an impressive collection of murals from Glacier National Park – and the Northwest Montana History Museum.
If you’re looking for outdoor recreation that doesn’t involve cruising down marked runs, Kalispell and its surrounding area have plenty to offer.
Just 10 minutes south of Kalispell is Flathead Lake. The largest natural freshwater lake in the West, Flathead Lake was carved out by the same ancient glaciers that made the peaks and ridgelines of Glacier National Park.
Hiding in plain sight, Flathead Lake is something you need to see to believe. Take a day trip and make a loop around the entirety of the lake. Along the way, be sure to stop at scenic pullouts to take in the view. Or if you want to get on the water – yes, even in winter – go on a guided kayak tour with Sea Me Paddle. With its milder climate, Flathead Lake rarely freezes in its entirety and paddling through Somers Bay and its chain of Juniper Islands is the perfect way to have a distinct experience on the lake. Keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles and osprey.
With ample amounts of snow, the area’s mountain ranges also have impressive terrain for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dog sledding. Northwest Montana has 200 miles of groomed trails and powder-filled play areas. And while you can rent your own snowmobile, the best way to see Montana from a sled is on a guided tour – both Northwest Montana Adventures and Swan Mountain Snowmobiling offer guided treks. For a pup-fueled adventure, travel at the speed of dog and glide through snow-covered landscapes with either Base Camp Bigfork or Dog Sled Adventures.
If you prefer to harness your own energy to explore? Step into snowshoes or cross-country skis and soak in the stillness of the season at area Nordic centers, ski trails, Lone Pine State Park or Herron Park.
And while Kalispell has lots to see and do, it’s also within easy reach of Glacier National Park. A beautiful 32-mile-long drive will take you to the park’s west entrance. From here, you can take in the alpenglow over the park’s Livingston Range at Lake McDonald or snowshoe along Fish Creek. If you’re looking for a guided adventure – like snowshoeing or tracking – inside Glacier National Park or the nearby Flathead National Forest, check out offerings from the Glacier Institute.
Kalispell also has a variety of lodging options, from historic hotels to cozy lodge-style accommodations and flagship hotels. No matter your winter vacation preferences, you’ll find a winter wonderland in Kalispell, Montana.