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Things To Do Outside Of Glacier National Park

Other Things TO do

We all know Glacier Park is pretty amazing, but did you know the adventure that awaits outside the park?  Whether you are spending an afternoon with us or making Bigfork home base for your vacation unique, Montana experiences abound.

Bigfork is the kind of place you have to see to believe!  Nestled at the confluence of the Flathead River and Swan River on the shores of Flathead Lake, shopping, dining and recreational opportunities abound.  Our Must To Do list is below but don’t miss 102 Things Do in Western Montana + Glacier Park and Top 10 Things to do near Glacier Park.

1. Bigfork Summer Playhouse

Celebrating its 65th season in 2024, Bigfork Summer Playhouse, is known for bringing in Broadway caliber acting and singing talent from across the country to Bigfork.  Enjoy dinner at one of Bigfork’s fine dining establishments and make an evening of it.

2. Drink Like a Local

What ever your desire, Bigfork has you covered.  Fieldhead’s Coffee Roasting offers high grown, high roasted premium coffee the way you like it.  How about a nice cold beer with a view?  Check out Flathead Lake Brewery for exquisite food, drink and atmosphere.  Want something a little stronger? Whistling Andy Distillery offers award winning spirits in an array of styles and flavors using select local grains, local cherries, and locally sourced botanicals.

3.  Farmers’ Markets

Enjoy warm summer evenings, fresh produce and crafts at the Bigfork Monday Market every Monday from 5-7:30 pm,  June – September, held at Lake Baked in the historic Bigfork Village.  Bigfork Farmer’s Market is every Wednesday from 3–7 pm May – October at Bigfork Liquor Barn.  Other area farmer’s markets can be found here.

4. Riverbend Concert Series

Riverbend Concert Series takes place at Sliter’s Park, next to the Swan River, every Sunday beginning at 7 pm from the last weekend of June through August. 10 great concerts, 10 summer Sundays, featuring 10 amazing local bands or artists.  A truly great way to spend an evening, bring the whole family and enjoy.  Tickets are $5 for adults and children 12 and under are free.

5.  Take a Hike

The Flathead Valley is blessed to have so many recreational opportunities right outside our door.  Stop in at the Bigfork Chamber Office or the Flathead Ranger District in Bigfork to get details on hikes around Jewel Basin and Flathead Lake. Whether you are interested in a ½ mile hike or an overnighter, there are plenty of options.  Our don’t miss hike is Mount Aeneas, a moderate 7 mile hike with 360° views and mountain goats to greet you at the top.

6.  Farm to Table Dining

Love Montana?  Wait until you try our food! Woods Bay Wine features dishes crafted with an eye for locally sourced ingredients and incredible flavor pairings or Montana Bonfire, a place to eat – drink – gather in a comfortable setting with delicious food.  Want more?  Taste our Place gives you the real Montana experience, including what and where to eat and drink throughout the state.

7.  Lake Day

Did you know Flathead Lake is the largest, natural, fresh water lake west of the Mississippi?  And it is one of the cleanest in the world!  Take advantage by renting a kayak or SUP from Base Camp Bigfork or  Wild Wave has your motorized boat needs covered, including pontoons, surf boats and jet-skis.  A day on the lake is where memories are made.

8.  Go with a Guide

Montana is a BIG state with BIG adventures.  Get the most out of your vacation by using a local guide.  Whether you are a seasoned pro or want to try something new, from lake and fly fishing to rafting and kayaking,  a professional guide with make the most of your adventure.

9. Take in the Sunset

Area residents in the know will tell you that the best sunsets on Flathead Lake can be viewed from Flathead Lake State Park – Wayfarers Unit. The rocky cliffs along the shoreline offer beautiful vistas of the lake at any time of day.

10.  Go Wild

Wild Horse Island is Flathead Lake’s largest island noted for its wildlife including Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, mule deer, birds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons as well as wild horses. The island is a favorite for hikers, boaters and swimmers.

11.  Get Some Culture

Culture in Montana?  You betcha!  Visit the Bigfork Art & Cultural Center, the heART of creativity, education and inspiration in Bigfork. Make sure to check out “Bigfork, A Montana Story.” A documentary that shares a common theme of adventure, courage, and grit shown by all who came West to build a new life and chose to make Bigfork their home.

12.  Llama Trekking

Guided Horseback Ride or Llama Treks or Horseback rides are offered by Swan Mountain Outfitters. Their tours are sure add something unique and novel to your Montana vacation plans.  Tours can be arranged in the Swan Mountain Range or in Glacier National Park.

13.  Hit the Greens

Named to Golf Digest’s top “50 Golf Destinations” in the world based on courses, service, transportation, setting, quality accommodations, travel to and around the destination, and value, Flathead Valley golf has it all and Bigfork has Eagle Bend Golf Course.  A William Hall and Jack Nicklaus designed 27 hole championship course, Eagle Bend is  offers a full-service restaurant, an outstanding practice facility, sculpted fairways and excellent greens.

14.  Take a Dam Tour

Hungry Horse Dam which is just outside Glacier National Park, is 564 feet high and one of the largest concrete arch dams in the United States. It’s morning-glory spillway, with water cascading over the rim and dropping 490 feet, is the highest in the world.  On the south of of Flathead Lake is Polson’s epic Séliš, Ksanka and QÍispé Dam (formerly known as Kerr Dam). The massive concrete arch dam stands 204 feet high, taller than Niagara Falls, and the spillway and scenic overlook right next to the falls offer amazing views of the valley.

15.  Seeley-Swan Scenic Drive

Why not grab breakfast at Echo Lake Cafe, a glass of fresh carrot juice or a mimosa and then head out for a scenic drive?  The Seeley-Swan scenic drive is a 90-mile long corridor along Highway 83 stretching through the Swan Valley from Seeley Lake to Swan Lake. This is lake country. Hundreds of natural lakes, ranging in size from a few acres to several thousands of acres, are squeezed into this narrow, heavily forest valley. To the west, the Mission Mountains rise majestically and to the east the Swan Range walls off this pristine valley, giving travelers here a unique feeling of solitude.

16.  Do Go Chasing Waterfalls

Holland Lake and Falls is a moderate 1.6 mile hike, that follows the shore line of idyllic Holland Lake before ascending 750 feet to the falls.  This is a great day trip for families and fur babies that is accessible May-September and everything you need for a picinic lunch can be found at the Mission Mountain Merchantile.  There are numerous other waterfall trails in Northwest Montana including Morell Falls and Yaak Falls.

17. Clearwater Canoe Trail

Perfect for any age and experience level, the Clearwater Canoe Trail is a two hour meandering, tranquil stretch of the Clearwater River just upstream from Seeley Lake that offers wildlife and bird watching.  Equipment can be rented from Tamaraks Resort, along with shuttle service or the hike back to the parking area is a quick mile.

18.  Swan River Nature Trail

With its proximity to Bigfork Village and well maintained path, the Swan River Nature Trail is a breathtakingly peaceful way to get outdoors.   The trailhead can be accessed from Grand Drive (Bigfork side) or Swan River Road.  The west end of the trail begins above the Wild Mile section of the Swan River, home to the Bigfork Whitewater Festival.  Don’t miss Lee’s Tree, the year round Christmas Tree dedicated to longtime Bigfork resident Lee Eslick and the Big Rock, at the 1/2 way point where you can walk down to the rapids.  This trail is a gated, gravel two mile road accessible to hikers, horseback riders, bicyclists and leashed fur babies.

19.  Loop the Lake

A drive around Flathead Lake allows you to experience the sights, sounds and smells of everything that is amazing about the Flathead Valley.  Starting on the west shore gives spectacular views of the Swan and Mission Mountains as you head south to Polson on Highway 83 before connecting to Highway 35.  The drive up the east shore offers daring views of the lake with steeper shorelines and a dramatic experience.  Our don’t miss tips are M&S Meats,  in Rollins, for hand-cut, hand-hung, hand-pulled buffalo and elk jerky and Richwine’s Burgville, in Polson, offering malts and milkshakes so thick you will need a spoon.

20.  Get Biological

The University of Montana’s Flathead Lake Biological Station (FLBS) is a world-class ecological research and education center with a focus on freshwater. For over 100 years, FLBS has served as the “Sentinel” of the Flathead Watershed, monitoring water quality and keeping watch for unwanted invasive species to ensure our freshwater ecosystems remain exemplary for many generations to come. FLBS offers college courses and graduate programs, conducts research in Montana and around the globe, and provides data and expertise to foster informed management decisions and policy.  Experience it yourself with a self guided tour.

21.  Flathead Lake Cherry Tour

The best cherries in the world come from Montana and the best cherries in Montana come from the east shore of Flathead Lake.  Visit Bowman’s Orchard or The Orchard at Flathead Lake to view the rolling hills of blossoms in May with true Montana cherry stands popping up in July and August.  Don’t forget to take of bottle of Tabletree Montana Cherry Juice home with you.

22.  Let’s Go Ride a Bike

Explore Bigfork with the wind in your hair by renting a bike at Base Camp Bigfork.  Take the Swan River Nature Trail to Swan River Road and follow it north to Echo Lake or head over to Highway 35 for a leisurely ride through the farm lands of Lower Valley.  There a many other local mountain bike trails or or just go out and explore around Crane Mountain, including Bear Dance Trail.

23.  Get A True Montana Experience

Find yourself lost in Nature as you explore the many beautiful fishing spots in and around Bigfork, including the Swan and Flathead Rivers, as well as the numerous creeks.  Pick up a map at the Chamber Office.  You can enjoy a hike up to a secluded spot like Strawberry Lake and spend the day fishing, and the night huddled around a campfire roasting marshmallows. Take in the unspoiled view of the night sky.  For a more education experience participate in one of the Big Sky Astronomy Club’s Star Watching Parties.  You can get their schedule here.

24.  Explore Indian Country

Did you know Montana has seven Indian Reservations?  Two in Northwestern Montana are the Flathead Reservation, home of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes and Blackfeet  Reservation home of the Blackfeet Tribe.  The Flathead Reservation is the second largest at 1.3 million acres and is home to three tribes: the Bitterroot Salish, upper Pend d’Oreille and Kootenai. The Blackfeet Reservation encompasses approximately 1.5 million acres and has the largest Indian population in Montana.  Extend your trip to include any of their cultural centers, museums, and heritage centers to learn about the rich history of the Native American Tribes in our beautiful state.

25.  Purple Haze

Get lost in the fragrant fields of relaxation, while you explore Longview Lavender Farm.   Open seasonally May-September, an afternoon spent in their sprawling lavender fields is good for the soul.  Walk the self-guided tours, help yourself to some U-Pick lavender, and browse the array of lavender products in the farm shop.  The purple haze of the lavender fields against the majestic Swan Mountains create the perfect family photo opp.

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