Faces of the Flathead
Meet the people who make a trip to Northwest Montana a treasured memory.
At the Kalispell CVB we often hear that even though we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world, it’s the people our visitors meet who make a trip to Northwest Montana so exceptional. Here we introduce you to just a few of the fascinating people who call Northwest Montana home and who epitomize our Western hospitality and the Montana entrepreneurial spirit.
Meet Maggie Doherty and Cole Schneider
Kalispell Brewing Company, Kalispell
If you love beer and you love to ski, then you’re likely to become fast friends with Maggie Doherty and Cole Schneider, proprietors of Kalispell Brewing Company. The married pair met in 2010 while training at Whitefish Mountain Resort for the U.S. National Telemark Championship. As teammates they quickly bonded over their love for skiing and for good beer. And then while planning their wedding in 2012 and pondering their future, Maggie and Cole bought a vacant building in downtown Kalispell. Two years later after fully renovating the historic Hendrickson Motor Company’s former home on Main Street, they opened Kalispell Brewing. Before Maggie and Cole arrived there had not been a brewing operation in the town since Kalispell Malting and Brewing Company closed its doors in 1955. Drawing from Cole’s brewing experience (he first started home-brewing while in college) and their combined European travels on the race circuit, Cole and Maggie brew their craft lagers in the German decoction tradition — a labor-intensive method that produces superior malt flavors. Their 10-barrel brewhouse is one of only four breweries in Montana practicing this time-old method.
While proud to create delicious beer, Maggie and Cole are equally proud of their efforts in restoring part of Kalispell’s historic downtown and in creating a gathering ground for the community.
Maggie and Cole’s insider tip for enjoying the Flathead Valley:
Explore the Foy’s to Blacktail trail system, just 10 minutes from Kalispell. The trails are great for mountain biking and hiking and are super family friendly. And the trail system is symbolic of the community effort in Kalispell to create multiuse public access. At the end of your hike or ride, enjoy a beer and mountain views from the deck of Kalispell Brewing.
Meet Ed DesRosier
Sun Tours, Glacier National Park
Early on in Ed DesRosier’s career he noticed a quest for cultural knowledge by visitors to Northwest Montana and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, his home that parallels Glacier National Park. Ed had spent his summers during college working at the Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning and his free time in the backcountry. Having grown up in a family and community with a core cultural connection and respect for the land, Ed was motivated to share more of his knowledge with visitors and fill a vacancy in the Glacier National Park experience for interpretive native culture. In 1992 Ed established Sun Tours as a concessionaire in Glacier, land known to the Blackfeet as the Backbone of the World. Through Sun Tours and its shared perspective of the Blackfeet, visitors have the opportunity to learn about the park’s rich history, its flora and fauna and its significance to all people. With his wife, Toni, by his side, Ed manages a fleet of nine vehicles, and his tour operators, all of whom are members of the local Indian community, run tours from mid-May through September on both sides of the park. While Ed is at the helm of Sun Tours, he is still very much in the field, and some especially lucky visitors may get Ed as their guide. Interpretive outings on Lower St. Mary Lake on Glacier’s east side are also available through Ed's Sun Water Boat Tour program.
Ed’s insider tip for enjoying Glacier National Park:
The park is big and wide, so spend more than just one day in Glacier. The east side is a hidden gem: explore Many Glacier, Two Medicine Valley and broaden your experience farther east into Blackfeet Country.
Meet Sara and Ryan Berweger
Flair Gifts & Cards, Kalispell
After spending the summer of 2005 in Glacier National Park, the first stop on a planned countrywide trip, Sara and Ryan Berweger never left. They had found their new home and decided they didn’t need to look anywhere else. The couple worked at the West Glacier Mercantile for the next 10 years. Inspired by other travels and shopping experiences at stores selling unique, locally made items, Sara and Ryan opened their own store in 2014 — naming it Flair Gifts & Cards. They liked the casual, friendly vibe of downtown Kalispell and wanted to be a part of its resurgence, so they set up shop on 2nd Street East in the historic Kalispell Mercantile (KM) building, later moving their store to 123 Main Street. Sara and Ryan handpick all their merchandise and the shop’s become the go-to place for small, cool gifts or items that are reasonably priced and offer something you can’t find anywhere else — including a very goofy selection of socks. They are passionate about carrying a wide array of Montana-made items, from huckleberry products made in Kalispell to T-shirts, jewelry and art. They sell whimsical animal prints by local artist Shelle Lindholm (featured in above photo) and photography by John Ashley, Glacier National Park wildlife biologist / professional photographer.
Flair Gifts & Cards is considered a destination itself, but visitors often come by just to see Ryan’s impressive 15 feet of flower boxes in front of the store. Ryan scours every local nursery for his installation of lime and orange flowers to match the store’s colors.
Sara and Ryan’s insider tip for enjoying the Flathead Valley:
Visit all the different downtown areas of the valley, the shops, the restaurants, the breweries. You’ll meet the locals and the proprietors and learn what’s new in the community and what’s inspired people. You may even be inspired yourself.
Meet Mike Howe
A Able and Mo Fisch charters, Flathead Lake and beyond
Mike Howe was a postmaster when he moved to the Flathead Valley in 1998, but even though his day job kept him inside he immediately fell in love with the valley’s outdoor pursuits. Mike found his passion in his hobbies — teaching hunter’s ed and bow hunting, fishing with his dad and organizing ice fishing tournaments, and so in 2009 when asked to join Mo Fisch Charters on Flathead Lake as a fishing guide, he jumped on the chance. And in 2011 when the opportunity appeared for Mike to buy A Able Charters on the lake and later Mo Fisch, he found himself no longer a postmaster but the owner of a growing charter fishing operation that was expanding throughout the lakes of Northwest Montana and eastern Montana.
Today Mike operates the largest freshwater lake outfit west of the Dakotas. Flathead Lake remains at the core of his operation, running both A Able in Bigfork and Mo Fisch in Lakeside. Mike considers Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, an “inland ocean” and the type of fishing he and his guides offer is unusual — using specialty deep water trolling for lake trout, down riggers and other techniques — and can only be compared to coastal or Great Lakes fishing.
To further meet the interests of the summer angler, Mike just added kayak fishing excursions to his fleet. And while summer may be when most people like to fish, Mike’s charter boats are fully equipped for Montana’s year-round weather. In fact, you may net your most successful catch on a cold day in February.
Mike’s insider tip for fishing Northwest Montana:
Montana may be better known for its fly-fishing than its lake fishing, but the variety of fishing and the species available in Northwest Montana make it one of the most diverse fishing destinations in the country. A dedicated angler can fish every day of the year and have a different experience each time.