How Kalispell Does Winter
Winter in our Mountain Town
A mountain town rich in culture, Kalispell knows how to winter. From skiing groomed runs at the area’s two ski resorts to cozying up with a thermos full of hot chocolate at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park to catch the alpenglow, there’s so much to see, do and experience in Montana’s Flathead Valley.
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. A scenic 25-mile-drive north from Kalispell, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers a bird’s-eye view of the valley below, as well as a peek into Glacier National Park. Meanwhile, Blacktail Mountain (a upside-down mom-and-pop ski hill) is 28 miles south of Kalispell and overlooks 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. Kalispell also offers abundant off-the-slope adventures in the form of winter kayaking, dog sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Experienced guides and outfitters—including Swan Mountain Snowmobiling, Northwest Montana Adventures, Dog Sled Adventures, Glacier Institute, Glacier Treks and Base Camp Bigfork—will help make sure you stay safe and warm, all while soaking up the best winter in Montana has to offer.
The Backbone of the World, Glacier National Park is 33 miles from Kalispell and is most accessible through its west entrance in West Glacier, where visitors can access Lake McDonald, Apgar Village and the Going-to-the-Sun Road, as well as a handful of snow-covered trails. While it's not open for vehicular traffic (the National Park Service keeps portions of the road plowed, depending on weather; check the status here), the Going-to-the-Sun Road offers cross-country skiers and snowshoers views of the park that not many get to see.
For a truly spectacular winter experience, visit the folks at Triple D Ranch. The ranch has instructors who work with both amatuer and professional photographers to capture portraits of the wildlife that make their home on the ranch, including fox, pine marten, snow leopard, horses and birds of prey.
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 downtown 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.