6 Ways to Enjoy Summer and Recreate Responsibly

By Discover Kalispell on June 26, 2020

This summer, locals and visitors alike are spending more time outside and heck, we don’t blame them. Montana’s wide-open spaces are ideal for travelers looking to get away to fresh mountain air, western hospitality and places that almost seem perfectly designed for practicing social distancing. Plus, with 147,000 square miles in Montana and numerous outdoor offerings in Montana’s Flathead Valley, it’s easy to find plenty of wild places to create memories, spend quality time and enjoy public lands, all while recreating responsibly. 

To make the most of your time playing in Montana’s outdoor playground, here are 6 tips for recreating responsibly in and around Kalispell. 

1. Be respectful. We count ourselves lucky to have so many public spaces surrounding Kalispell and the Flathead Valley. When recreating on public lands, be sure to take care of them by staying on trails and packing out everything you bring in with you. If you plan to camp while you’re here, be sure to do so in an existing campsite or pick a site where vegetation is absent. 

If day trips are more your style, peruse our abundant lodging options at Kalispell hotels, motels, lodges and RV parks here. An important note: while Kalispell accommodations have always been clean, they’ve added more cleaning and sanitation practices to be sure all guests have a comfortable, healthy and relaxing stay. 

In addition, if you are sick (have a cough, cold, fever, etc.) or have been in contact with individuals who have been sick, stay home and plan to visit when you’re well. We promise that Kalispell and Montana will be here waiting when you feel better. 

2. Keep Montana wild. If you’re not familiar with Big Sky Country, our open spaces are home to an abundant population of diverse wildlife, including bears, mountain goats, mountain lions, elk, deer and more. And chances are, if you spend much time outside when you’re here, at some point you are going to have an encounter with our wildlife and we want it to be a positive one. Give wildlife their space, do not approach them and do not feed them. If you plan to hike, be sure to go with a friend, make noise on the trail (this means talking) and carry bear spray. 

3. Plan ahead. This summer is going to be different than summers of the past, with more people planning to spend time outside on their vacations. If you arrive at a trailhead and it’s overcrowded, keep going and hike another trail or take a dip in one of our rivers or Flathead Lake. We also recommend adjusting the time of day you plan to hike and explore. With long daylight hours in the summer, it’s easy to hit the trails and public lands before many people are even up for the day, which means you’ll also have the trails to yourself.

4. Give people space. When playing in Montana’s outdoors, you are going to run into locals and out-of-state visitors. If you can, give other people as much space as possible. Move off the trail to let stock (horses and mules) pass, yield to other hikers and be respectful of other users, as everyone is at different comfort levels in the outdoors. If you know you’ll be in an area with other people (the start of a trailhead, picking up groceries, etc.), wear a mask. 

5. Fully extinguish all fires. While we could beat around the bush on this, we’re just gonna say it -- we need you to fully put out any fires you have. While some wildfires are caused by natural forces (like lightning), others are caused by humans. And while fire is part of nature’s natural ecosystem, human-caused wildfires are not. If you opt to have a campfire, be sure to watch it, start it in a fire pit, never leave it unattended and make sure it’s completely out before leaving. Additional tips: always dispose of matches and cigarette buts in a closed container, don’t park a vehicle in dry grass and use caution in wooded areas.  Tips from Smokey the Bear

6. Be prepared. In Montana, both weather and terrain can change quickly. Be sure to have water, food/snacks, bug spray and a first aid kit. We recommend packing layers as well to ensure you are prepared as possible. For more information, check out our packing list.  

Additional resources for recreating responsibly can be found at Leave No Trace, the U.S. Forest Service the National Park Service and Be Outdoor Safe.

And remember, we look forward to seeing you in Kalispell and sharing the open spaces and public lands that make up our backyard. When you get here, be sure to stop into the Discover Kalispell Visitor Information Center (15 Depot Park) and pick up travel guides and maps, as well as get suggestions for things to do, places to go and insider tips from our staff. 

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