Pack It Up: Must Haves for Your Kalispell, Montana Vacation
A mountain town set in Montana’s Flathead Valley, Kalispell is one of those places you need to experience for yourself. A trip to Kalispell is an ideal escape, as it serves up snow-kissed mountain peaks and fresh air, as well as a lively downtown filled with diverse culinary offerings, locally owned shops and boutiques, signature events, incredible museums and seemingly endless outdoor adventures.
A year-round, four-season destination that sits at an elevation of 2,956 feet, one of the best ways to enjoy your trip to Kalispell is to be sure your bag is packed for the time of year you’re visiting, playing and exploring under Montana’s big blue sky. One thing to keep in mind: dress codes in Montana are always casual; jeans are suitable no matter where you go.
As you start planning your trip, weather in Montana is distinct to each season. To help you be as prepared as possible, we’ve included packing recommendations for winter, spring, summer and fall.
Winter in Montana
In winter, Montana’s Flathead Valley and surrounding mountain ranges welcome hundreds of inches of snowfall, complemented by sunshine and epic powder days. Visiting Montana in winter means you need to be prepared for cold temperatures, snow and ice. Essentials for winter include snow boots, a winter coat/down jacket, snow pants, wool socks, sweaters, puffy vests, beanies, scarves, gloves, chapstick, sunglasses, lotion and SPF. Locals are big fans of layers in the winter, which allow for fluctuating temperatures.
Pro tip: If you plan on playing outside for long stretches of time, pick up hand and toe warmers to wear in your boots and gloves.
Spring in Montana
One of Montana’s most underrated seasons, spring can include late-season snowstorms, warm sunny days, rain and a welcome rebirth after the cold temperatures of winter. Combine that with wildlife watching opportunities, low-elevation hikes and snow-kissed mountains, and spring in Montana is nothing short of a great adventure. When exploring Kalispell in spring, you’re well-advised to pack an array of clothing and gear to keep you comfortable, no matter what the weather brings. Must have items include layers (think flannel shirts and long-sleeve transitional tops), puffy vests, jeans/long pants, raincoats, hats, a beanie and a light packable down jacket. Top off your suitcase with water-repellant shoes (and/or hiking boots), sunglasses, SPF and chapstick.
Pro tip: Flannel passes as a dress shirt around here and is oftentimes the last layer you need for either taking a stroll or heading out to dinner.
Summer in Montana
Montana’s most-loved season, summer can bring its own assortment of weather moods. While the temperatures are comfortable and tend to be in the 70s and 80s, summer nights can cool down, which leaves you needing a cozy layer. Necessary summer items include tank tops, long-sleeve shirts or light sweaters, a jacket, light fleece, baseball caps or sun hats, shorts, sandals, hiking boots, water shoes, bathing suits/swimming trunks, SPF lip balm, sunglasses and sunscreen. And if you’re planning on taking a horseback trail ride, be sure to bring closed-toe shoes with a heel (or cowboy boots) and long pants.
Pro tip: With high elevations and a dry climate, pack a reusable water bottle to keep you hydrated while you’re exploring northwest Montana.
Fall in Montana
Montana’s best-kept secret, fall typically has comfortable temperatures, long daylight hours and fewer people, while many of the amenities of summer are still available. When visiting Montana in fall, your suitcase should include flannel shirts, long-sleeve tops, T-shirts, long pants, raincoats, a light packable down jacket or fleece, hats and beanies, hiking boots, tennis shoes and transitional footwear.
Pro tip: While in many destinations beanies are reserved for winter, fall brings cooler temperatures to Montana’s Flathead Valley. You’ll see locals rocking beanies year-round, but especially during autumn. Throw one in your carry-on bag or scoop one up at a local Kalispell shop.
No matter what time of year you visit, round out your packing list with a daypack, camera, binoculars, a waterproof pouch for your phone/keys and a reusable water bottle. With our location in the Crown of the Continent region, Kalispell is doing our part to eliminate plastic water bottle waste. Bring a reusable water bottle and utilize the water refill stations throughout the valley. Water stations can be found in Kalispell at the Discover Kalispell Visitor Center (15 Depot Park), Montana Coffee Traders (111 Main Street), ImagineIF Library (247 1st Ave. E), ImagineIF Library Foundation (44 2nd Ave. W) and Sportsman & Ski Haus (145 Hutton Ranch Road). Glacier National Park also has a variety of refill stations, with a full list of locations available here.
A note on weather:
You’ve likely heard the saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Montana, wait five minutes.” And while it’s a total cliché to say it, the weather systems in Montana do change quickly and it’s always a good idea to be prepared for swiftly changing temperatures.
Seasonal average daytime temperatures can be found below:
January: Average high of 31°F; Average low of 16°F
April: Average high of 56°F; Average low of 31°F
July: Average high of 81°F; Average low of 48°F
October: Average high of 55°F; Average low of 29°F