Kalispell and the Flathead Valley are a visitor and recreational paradise. The area plays host to eight golf courses within a 45 minute drive, two ski resorts, Glacier National Park, and Flathead Lake. The Flathead boasts over 2000 artists and craftsman in residence, and among the highest concentration of bronze casting foundries in the nation.
Outstanding arts and culture opportunities abound. This year the renowned Glacier Symphony and Chorale celebrates its 25th anniversary. Kalispell has been recognized as the “Best Mountain Town in America” by Mountain Sports and Living magazine. And, Glacier National Park has been rated the “Best Backcountry Park in America” by Backpacker magazine.
Wide open spaces, crystal lakes, rambling rivers and mountain trails beckon Kalispell’s residents – and as many as three million visitors to the area yearly – so lace up your hiking boots, dip your paddle, strap on your skis, saddle your horse and come play in our backyard. Kalispell is surrounded by some of the most unspoiled, magnificent natural beauty found anywhere in the United States – 30 minutes to the north lies Glacier National Park, and just to the south and east are the Bob Marshall, Great Bear and Mission Mountains wilderness areas.
Combined with 2.3 million acres of Flathead National Forest, the Flathead Valley possesses abundant recreational opportunities and a wealth of natural resources. The area’s state parks also provide ample access to area streams and lakes and more than 130,000 acres of state land. Lone Pine State Park, just south of Kalispell, is a popular getaway for hikers and mountain bikers with a trail that starts right at the edge of town. A short walk from the visitor center leads to a perfect picture bird’s-eye view that stretches from Glacier Park to the north to Flathead Lake and the Swan Mountains to the south.
On warm summer days families cool off at nearby Foy’s Lake which has a boat ramp and public dock for sunbathing and picnicking. Flathead County maintains more than 40 easily accessible parks. The sounds of cheering spectators can be heard at softball, baseball and soccer fields all season long. Nearby, Iven Herron Memorial Park offers equestrian jumps, horse stalls and dressage arenas, and access to a network of hiking and ungroomed cross-country ski trails.
Birdwatchers have favorite local hotspots such as Leisure Island next to the Flathead River for spotting ospreys and eagles, meadowlarks and cedar waxwings, and pheasants and other upland game birds. Thirty city parks complement the City of Kalispell. The newest, Kidsport Complex, provides 140 acres of fields for youth soccer and baseball.
The city’s largest and oldest, 38-acre Woodland Park, was once a private game preserve for Kalispell founder Charles Conrad. Today it features a rose garden, formal garden, a large lagoon which is home to a variety of ducks and geese in the warmer months and a skating rink in the winter, two miles of walking trails and a playground. Additionally, a water park and skateboard park opened in 2004.
Lawrence Park, bordering the Stillwater River and Kalispell’s municipal golf course, invites walkers, birdwatchers and picnickers, families and Frisbee golf aficionados. Tennis courts are scattered around town, and the city’s extensive complex of courts near the community college hosts tournament play. Enthusiasts have organized groups for gliding, skydiving, ballooning, skijoring and mountain biking. There’s high-speed auto racing beneath the checkered flag at Raceway Park, and rodeos, concerts and trade shows at Majestic Valley Arena. When snowflakes fly, our spirits rise – Northwest Montana becomes a powder-hound’s paradise offering a whole new range of outdoor activities.
From Kalispell, two downhill ski areas are less than an hour away. Big Mountain, 23 miles north, is a world class resort offering five-star lodging and fine dining, the Glacier Chaser high speed quad lift, and unsurpassed views of Glacier Park and the Flathead Valley. Its 93 marked trails covering 2,353 vertical feet cater to skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels.
South of Kalispell is Blacktail Mountain, Montana’s newest ski area. It’s affordable and family friendly with a cozy lodge for fireside lunch breaks and a full bar and grill on the upper level. Its north-facing slopes, high above Flathead Lake, offer consistent snow through mid-April. Cross-country ski trails abound. Track and skate-skiers can choose from miles of groomed trails including the Buffalo Hill and Whitefish Lake Golf Courses, Round Meadows, and the Bigfork Nordic Center for a quick ski in the middle of their day.
There are also miles more of un-groomed ski trails available at favorite spots around the valley. And where there are no trails, adventurous skiers and snowshoers blaze their own across thousands of acres of public land. Northwest Montana boasts more than 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails. Another 2,000 miles of Forest Service roads lead into back country for spectacular ridge top views.