In Kalispell, we believe in the power of travel. It has a way of opening our eyes through new places, news experiences and new people in beautiful ways. Travel has the ability to expand our horizons through learning about local cultures, traditions and priorities. Here in Kalispell, our priorities include recreating responsibly and sustainable tourism. This place means so much to every single person who calls it home and we want to be sure that visitors understand how important this is to keeping Kalispell and northwest Montana wild, pristine and thriving. To keep our locally owned shops open, our downtown welcoming and our public lands accessible and protected, we all have to do our part. Let’s take care of this place, together.
As seasons change, so do our recreational activities. To stay safe and help protect the places we play during winter, there are six rules to help you recreate responsibly.
1) Know Before You Go
As seasons change, so do access points for trailheads and road closures. It’s important to keep in mind that during winter places with higher elevations have more extreme conditions, winds and even avalanches. Make sure you research your destination, weather and road conditions prior to your trip. You can find a statewide road conditions report here.
Tip: Some places (like Glacier National Park) have live webcams, so you can have an idea of the weather in real time prior to leaving your home or hotel.
2) Plan and Prepare
In Montana, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. And while that may be a stretch, there is some real truth to that. In winter, the more you’re prepared for the elements of the outdoors, the better. When you’re planning to spend time outside (or if you’re traveling on our roads during winter), be sure you’re ready. Know your gear, make sure all components are working and charged. Always bring extra layers, waterproof clothing, a first-aid kit, batteries and a headlamp. Have a Plan B in case you cannot access your destination. And if you’re road tripping in Montana, be sure to have a few necessities with you. Our list includes water, snacks, good boots, a blanket, gloves, hats and a winter coat, as well as an ice scraper, jumper cables, a small hand shovel and a flashlight.
Tip: Pack a thermos with hot soup or tea. It might have been colder than you expected and this is a great way to warm yourself up.
3) Build an Inclusive Outdoors
Everyone deserves to experience all that Kalispell’s winter wonderland has to offer. Be an active part of making the outdoors safe, accessible and welcoming for all abilities and identities.
Tip: Ask someone you know to tag along with you on your next adventure who may not get outdoors as much. You may open their eyes to a new experience, while helping them become familiar with how to recreate outside.
4) Respect Others
There is space for everyone and countless outdoor activities that take place on the same terrain, like cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and more. Share the space; we are all in this together to enjoy the outdoors and soak up the wonders that winter in Montana brings. Learn to Ski Kind or Tread Lightly when skiing, riding or traversing off-road and make efforts to be a positive part of the community.
Tip: Park only in safe and legal spaces. Road conditions are constantly changing.
5) Leave No Trace
Respect the land, water, wildlife and Indigenous communities. Follow Leave No Trace winter use principles, such as pack it in, pack it out. Leave wild places and public lands as you found them, only make tracks in the snow and take pictures.
Tip: Remember, if you thought that antler or rock was neat, the next visitor would like to enjoy it too. Be sure to leave it behind.
6) Keep our Winter Playground Pristine
Pack out any waste, including human and pet waste; we need to keep our water sources clean. Consider this your responsibility to take action to protect our climate and remember that; today’s snow is tomorrow’s water.
Keep up to date with how to Recreate Responsibility during each season of the year at www.recreateresponsibly.org.
For local resources on Kalispell and Montana’s Flathead Valley: