Your Guide to Soaking up Montana’s Outdoors Responsibly
Here in Kalispell, we’ve always been big advocates of responsible travel. Since our destination is located in one of the most stunning places in the United States, it seems fitting that we do our part to help take care of it, including sharing information with visitors (and residents) about how to #RecreateResponsibly. Kalispell, the soul of Montana, is within easy reach of Montana’s natural wonders, from the 185 miles (297 kilometers) of shoreline around Flathead Lake to trails that weave in, around and through public lands like Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest.
These places have been home to wildlife and humans for thousands of years, and it’s our goal to keep them just as untouched, beautiful and wild for generations to come. And now, perhaps more than ever, we’re drawn to the outdoors for safety, comfort and inspiration. When visiting Kalispell, the Flathead Valley and Montana this winter, here are the actions you can take to protect our outdoor places and spaces, while also keeping yourself safe.
- Check weather and road conditions; know before you go. In Montana, winter comes in swiftly and a pleasant day can quickly have blizzard conditions. With mountains, valleys and rugged ridgelines throughout the region, some areas can become dangerous because of winter storms and fluctuations in temperature. Before you set out to adventure in the backcountry or travel Montana’s roadways, check area road conditions and snow conditions, as avalanches can and do occur.
- Enjoy the open spaces. Here in Montana, we tend to give each other room naturally, because when you’ve got wide-open spaces, you’re well-advised to take advantage of it. If a parking area is too crowded, keep going to the next one. If you meet fellow adventure lovers (like hikers, snowshoers, snowmobilers or folks on horseback), be sure to give one another space and practice proper trail etiquette. Most importantly, be considerate of those around you.
- Make a plan (and then make another one). There are various elements that can cause your plans to change, from weather to unsafe ice conditions and delayed flights to being ill. Our best advice: check local weather and driving conditions to ensure you’re as prepared as possible for visiting Montana and recreating during the winter months. To help you be as ready as possible, use this packing list. In addition, keep in mind that businesses currently require face coverings indoors and some outdoor offerings (like downhill ski areas) are requiring them in lines and during loading/unloading. Be sure to travel with at least two face coverings/masks to ensure that if one gets wet or dirty, you have a back up.
- Safety first, adventure second. Being in Montana, we love a good adventure. But what we love even more is welcoming people to play in our winter wonderland and then having them leave with incredible memories of their time in Kalispell. When recreating outdoors or traveling our roads during winter, be sure to know your limits to keep yourself as safe as possible.
- Explore Kalispell. Our unfiltered mountain town offers a plethora of things to do, places to explore and food to eat. We’re also home to makers, creators, artists and locally owned businesses all working together to make this place so special. While you’re here, we invite you to explore our downtown, sip a made-right-here beverage and consider purchasing goodies from local shops.
- Leave no trace. One of the key elements needed to #RecreateResponsibly is to practice leave no trace. This means if you pack it in, you pack it out. Whether that be garbage, pet waste or anything in between, if it belongs to you (or your furry friend) it needs to be disposed of properly.
- Be inclusive and kind. For many, 2020 was their first adventure into the outdoors. And while this means more education is needed on how to #RecreateResponsibly, it also means that more people are soaking up our natural wonders than before, which is something to champion. Play an active role in making the outdoors a place where everyone—no matter their age, identity or ability—feels safe and welcome.
No matter where you’re from or if you call Kalispell home, we hope you’ll join us in committing to #RecreateResponsibly, treat one another with kindness, take care of the places you visit and continue loving the wild and beautiful world we call home.