Here in Kalispell, there’s a special kind of magic that exists. From seeing a place with fresh eyes to exploring the deep traditions and authentic way of life that’s woven into northwest Montana, it’s easy to fall for Kalispell. Autumn is one of the loveliest times of year to visit Kalispell and northwest Montana. The region’s warm days, cool nights and vibrant foliage that can be seen covering the mountains and valleys are the perfect complement to bucket-list autumn adventures.
To make the most of your time in our corner of Montana – and to help you fall under the spell of our mountain town – here are five adventures and experiences that are perfect for a fall trip.
1. Llama treks. Affectionately called the camels of the clouds, llamas are a distinct way to experience the mountains of Montana. Swan Mountain Llama Trekking has a slew of llama pack trips that range from shorter 3-hour treks to overnight stays and multi-day trips. Guests can enjoy a gorgeous hike through the changing colors of fall, while llamas carry the gear. Plus, it’s just a cool way to hike.
2. Guided kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding on Flathead Lake. Recreation on Flathead Lake isn’t just for the summer and with Sea Me Paddle, it’s easy to get out on the water during fall. One of the best ways to hit the waters of the largest natural freshwater lake in the West is through a guided tour on a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. Tours depart just south of Kalispell and several options are offered, from checking out Somers Bay and Juniper Islands to exploring Cedar Island and its pictographs. And if you want a scenic tour of the lake? Book a guided tour with Howe’s Fishing and set out on a tour of the lake, including to Wild Horse Island. You can also play on the waters of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park during fall; just be sure you have your watercraft inspected for aquatic invasive species before you launch on any of Montana’s waters.
3. Guided hikes and educational programs. Fall in Glacier National Park is a literal dream, with active wildlife, stunning colors and a quieter experience in the Crown of the Continent. Glacier Institute – which is the official education partner of Glacier National Park and the Flathead National Forest – offers a variety of guided hikes and educational tours, with highlights that include destinations like Avalanche Lake and Logan Pass, while also learning insights about the park’s flora, fauna and history. In addition, no vehicle reservation is needed for any of Glacier National Park’s entrances starting on September 11, 2023 (a park pass is still needed and can be purchased at the entry station).
4. Scenic rafting trips. With lower water levels, fall is an ideal time of year to float the river on a scenic trip. Scenic floats are relaxing, calm and slower-paced than whitewater rafting and knowledgeable guides share information about the surrounding area and landscapes.
5. Fish Montana. Fall brings cooler water temperatures to area lakes, rivers and streams, creating a more steady environment for fish of all kinds. A short drive from Kalispell will have you on some of the best water around, including the North Fork, South Fork and Middle Fork of the Flathead River, as well as Flathead Lake. If you’re ready to cast a fly-fishing line, the crew at True Water Fly Shop should be your first stop. Additional outfitters include Wild Trout Adventures, Glacier Guides and Montana Raft, Great Northern Resort and Glacier Outdoor Center. Or, if deeper water is more your style, book a guided experience with Howe’s Fishing and take to the waters of Flathead Lake.