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To Plan A Trip

June 2024
1min read

Travel Montana (406-444-2654) and the Flathead Travel Service (1-800-223-9380) both are good places to get basic information on the area. Generally, Montana’s late-summer weather is so consistently beautiful it’s almost weird. Perhaps it’s meant to compensate for the area’s brutal winters, which can stretch from mid-September through mid-May. In fact, the Flathead Indians still tell the legend of the origins of the seasons, in which the warm-weather forces battled to win some control from their mighty cold-weather opponents. The story is found in The Last Best Place , a 1,160-page anthology of writings about the state that was published by the Montana Historical Society in 1988. The book provides an incomparable primer on the territory, as well as a good upper-body workout. You can order a copy from the society at 1-800243-9900. Another book worth reading is Ghost Hunting in Montana (HarperCollins West , 1994), by Barnaby Conrad III, the great-great-nephew of KalispelPs founder. It offers lively vignettes on the area’s various rituals and people.

For more practical information, try Norma Tirell’s Montana , of the “Discover America” series (Compass American Guides, 1991). Whitefish, the Magazine of Northwest Montana is an extremely handsome and well-written publication that’s put out twice a year (406-755-2219).

The valley has every conceivable kind of accommodation—from the historic grandeur and many amenities of Lake McDonald Lodge to a number of cozy bed-and-breakfasts and the reliable Super 8s that seem to show up on the outskirts of every American city. We stayed at Bigfork’s Marina Cay Resort, which is perched right at the edge of Flathead Lake.

Among the valley’s many summer festivals and activities are the Flathead Music Festival (held at the Conrad Mansion in late July), Bigfork’s Annual Festival of the Arts in August, and the Million Dollar Hole-in-One Shootout at Eagle Bend. The granddaddy festival of them all is the Northwest Montana Fair, held in Kalispell on the third week in August. The fair attracts people from all over the state to visit its arts and agricultural displays, try out its carnival rides, or watch one of the best rodeos in the West.

Information about Glacier is available through the park’s main office at 406-888-5441. Helicopter tours are handled by private companies, and we booked ours through Glacier Heli Tours, just outside the park’s west entrance. From May to October it can be reached at 1-800-879-9310; otherwise it’s at 1-800-926-7481.1 was truly impressed by the outfit, despite my moments of irrational fear. In the end the tour had the effect of a giant roller-coaster ride: The minute I got off it, I couldn’t wait to do it again.

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