A mountain town rich in culture, Kalispell knows how to winter. With hundreds of inches of snow that cover our mountain ranges to the magic that comes from strolling through downtown, winter in Montana has abundant things to do and places to explore.
Skiing tends to take the spotlight when the snow falls, with 300+ annual inches of powder that blanket the surrounding mountains and create ideal terrain for snowboarders and skiers at Whitefish Mountain Resort and Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, both within easy reach of Kalispell. An easy drive 22 miles north from Kalispell will have you on the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, a world-class ski area with 360-degree views (that include Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley) from the top of the summit. The mountain’s 3,000 acres of terrain has a mix of beginner, intermediate and advanced terrain, making it ideal for all skill levels. Meanwhile, a scenic drive 28 miles south of Kalispell will take you to Blacktail Mountain Ski Area. An upside-down mountain (where you park at the top and ski down), Blacktail’s 1,000 skiable acres have sweeping views of Flathead Lake and the stunning Swan Mountains. And while northwest Montana is a skiers’ paradise, there’s way more to winter in Kalispell than hitting the ski slopes. Want to ski for free while you’re here? Check out our Winter in Kalispell ski package!
Kalispell also offers abundant off-the-slope adventures in the form of winter kayaking, dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, ice fishing, hockey, sledding and snowmobiling. Experienced guides and outfitters – including Swan Mountain Snowmobiling, Glacier Institute and Glacier Treks – will help make sure you stay safe and warm, all while soaking up the best of winter in Montana.
Northwest Montana is also popular for cross-country skiing, with destinations that include the Big Mountain Nordic Trails, Bigfork Community Nordic Center, Blacktail Mountain X-Country Ski Trails, Glacier National Park and Whitefish Lake Golf Course.
Referred to as the Crown of the Continent and Backbone of the World, Glacier National Park is open year-round and is 32 miles from Kalispell. During winter, it’s most accessible through its west entrance in West Glacier. Winter in the park is beautiful and this time of year offers visitors a quieter look at the park (the National Park Service keeps portions of the road plowed; check the status here), where you can soak in the view of the star-filled sky over Lake McDonald from Apgar Village or snowshoe along Fish Creek with a Ranger-led Tour. For a hands-on look at winter in the park or the Flathead National Forest, book a guided outing with Glacier Institute or Tour Glacier. Outside the park, incredible views can be found on a snowmobiling tour with an experienced guide. With 2,000 miles of groomed and ungroomed trails that lead sledders along stunning terrain in the Flathead National Forest, you can choose from a two-hour tour to a full-day adventure.
To incorporate horses into your winter adventures, visit the folks at Bar W Guest Ranch for trail rides, sleigh rides and stories around the campfire or head to Clydesdale Outpost for a scenic sleigh ride, pulled by beautiful Clydesdales.
For a glimpse of Kalispell’s past and present, take a self-guided mural tour, visit the Conrad Mansion Museum (and learn all about Kalispell’s founder, Charles E. Conrad), peruse art at the Hockaday Museum of Art and immerse yourself in history at the Northwest Montana History Museum. Time it right and you might be able to catch one of Kalispell’s most-loved winter events, Christmas at the Conrad Mansion. A full overview of events can be found here.
Montana’s real-life snow globe wouldn’t be complete without visiting downtown Kalispell. Rooted in history, this vibrant neighborhood is home to charming shops, boutiques, eateries and more, all serving up a slice of Big Sky Country. Be sure to cozy up with made-right-here craft beverages at breweries, wineries, distilleries, cideries and coffee shops. End the day at a welcoming hotel, lodge or motel, each with its own take on Montana-inspired accommodations (including these ones with fireplaces and fire pits).