While our favorite national park is open year-round, and you are always welcome to visit, we feel like we need to tell you something: there’s so much to see outside of Glacier National Park.
We invite you to take in these Montana views that will leave you thinking you’re in a national park:
Flathead Lake and its islands. The largest natural freshwater lake in the West, there are endless jaw-dropping views of Flathead Lake. You can cruise the lake in its entirety on U.S. Highway 93 or Montana Highway 35 and take advantage of scenic pullouts along the way or you can get out onto the water on a private boat tour, guided kayaking tour or with your own watercraft. The lake is home to numerous islands, some of which are public lands (like Wild Horse Island State Park) while others are privately owned.
Distance from Kalispell: 10 minutes (9 miles)
Hungry Horse Reservoir. Sitting in a beautiful canyon on the South Fork of the Flathead River near the town of Hungry Horse, Hungry Horse Reservoir is 34 miles long and stretches into the Flathead National Forest. There’s plenty of room to explore, camp, hike, swim, boat and fish. Pro tip: if it’s busy at the start of the reservoir, keep driving on either the west side road or east side road and you’re sure to quickly be in an area with no one else around.
Distance from Kalispell: 20 minutes (20 miles)
The Summit of Big Mountain. Located on Big Mountain, Whitefish Mountain Resort offers a phenomenal view out over the Flathead Valley and into Glacier National Park. On clear days, rumor has it you can even see into Canada. The summit is accessible by hiking trails or you can catch a scenic chairlift ride up to the top.
Distance from Kalispell: 30 minutes (22 miles)
Jewel Basin. Directly east of Kalispell in the Flathead National Forest is the Jewel Basin. This 15,000-acre area is ideal for hiking, camping and fishing, with more than 20 lakes located in the Jewel Basin. There are abundant day hikes in the basin and you’ll be rewarded with views and quiet moments, as no motorized traffic or bikes are allowed. Dogs are allowed on trails in national forests, if they are leashed.
Distance from Kalispell: 45 minutes (27 miles)
Holland Lake and Holland Falls. A scenic dirt road off of Highway 83 will take you to Holland Lake and the Holland Falls National Recreation Trail which leads to Holland Falls. This gorgeous day hike will reward you with views of the lake below, the waterfall and surrounding mountain peaks that stretch into the Flathead National Forest.
Distance from Kalispell: 1 hour, 15 minutes (75 miles)
Kootenai Falls and the swinging bridge. While most travelers to Kalispell head north and east into Glacier National Park, one of the state’s coolest places is a scenic drive north and west. Kootenai Falls, and its swinging bridge, sit along the Kootenai River, with the bridge offering a bird’s-eye view of the falls below.
Distance from Kalispell: 1 hour, 45 minutes (100 miles)
And while Glacier National Park will always and forever be the Crown of the Continent, there’s so much to discover outside its 1 million acres. Happy adventuring!