By Keryn Means,

Imagine it—wide-open spaces, quiet forests, peaceful lakes and your friends gathered around. That’s what you get when you spend a week or weekend in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. While this part of Montana encompasses millions of acres (and includes Glacier National Park), you can see a lot in a little bit of time if you plan carefully and know what you want to do. So, let’s break down some of your options and start planning.

You’ll jump for joy when you visit Western Montana. Photo: Keryn Means

Soak it Up at Quinn’s Hot Springs

Pack your swimsuit and soak up the magic of Montana together at Quinn’s Hot Springs, a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. Add a girls-getaway spin with a few glasses of wine or beer and some nibbles from the adjacent tavern.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Harwood House

After a soak at Quinn’s, enjoy a perfectly prepared steak cut of your choice, along with one of the top wine selections in the state, at Harwood House. Their signature prime rib is exceptional—and make sure you save room for dessert!

Marvel at the Grandeur of the Ross Creek Cedars

Every girls trip to Montana should include a hike. If you have never seen old cedar trees, you need to plan a stroll through Ross Creek Cedars Scenic Area. These massive trees are a wonder to behold. There are trails that allow you to hike as long or short as you’d like. Plan for at least an hour at this stop if you are road tripping through the area. You will want to have time to take photos and explore. Just don’t forget your bear spray. It’s the wilderness, and bears do live here.

The Ross Creek Cedars will dazzle you. Photo: Keryn Means

Picnic at Kootenai Falls

Pack a picnic or grab a snack at the concession stand near the parking lot of Kootenai Falls. Hike down to the falls trail (head right) to find a few boulders to perch on while you enjoy your meal. The rushing waters, and lack of crowds especially in the shoulder seasons, is a welcome respite as you drive around Montana with your friends. There is a suspension bridge farther down the trail (go left at the fork instead of right for the falls) that provides incredible views of the crystal-clear glacial waters roaring over the rocks below.

Learn About Montana Sapphires in Bigfork

Did you know Montana is known for its sapphires? Shop for some of the most beautiful gems in Bigfork for a much lower price than you will find in other parts of the state. Shopkeepers are happy to let you play dress-up while you try on rings and necklaces and check out the earrings on display. If you can’t find something you love, some shops do offer loose stones to take home and make your own creations.

If jewelry isn’t your thing, there are also several boutiques selling curated collections of clothing, home goods and even plant accessories.

Discover Flathead Lake Via a Boat Ride

Order a charcuterie board to-go from Bonfire (across from the docks) and bring a bottle of wine as you enjoy a sailing (or pontoon float) adventure on Flathead Lake—the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. Book a sunset cruise, so you can enjoy a glass of wine while watching the colors change from blue to gold to peach across the lake. After your ride, pop into The Raven for a full dinner.

Experience Llama Trekking With Swan Mountain

If you want a really unique experience in Montana, let Swan Mountain Llama Trekking take you hiking with a llama. You may wonder why, but once you get on the trail and lead your llama toward a snow-fed waterfall, you will realize that these gentle creatures bring their own Zen to forest bathing. You will have time to sit by the waterfall during lunch and hike down to the many pools below before you pack up your trash (don’t worry, the llamas carry it, but make sure you leave no trace behind) and head back to your car.

Swan Mountain Llama Trekking will lead you to beautiful locations in the Seeley Swan Valley. Photo: Keryn Means

Kayak the Clearwater Trail at Tamaracks Resort

Pop into Tamaracks Resort to rent kayaks and paddle down a river that then spits you back out onto the lake. This is the perfect morning activity, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet, maybe see some wildlife that has just woken up, and skirt the shore as you view the local flowers and foliage changing colors with the season.

Pamper Yourself at Cedar Creek Salon and Day Spa

Everyone deserves a little pampering, which is why you will want to book a massage, facial or mani/pedi at the Cedar Creek Salon and Day Spa. A spa trip is particularly good on a rainy day, if it’s just too chilly to go on a hike early in the morning, or if you need to rest your bones in the afternoon.

Sip Perfectly Balanced Cocktails at Montgomery Distillery

You will definitely eat well in Missoula (don’t miss the chance to try everything on the menu at Brasserie Porte Rouge, including dessert) but what you might not expect in a land filled with microbreweries and brewpubs is a distillery serving up cocktails worth writing home about. Grab the girls and a table at Montgomery Distillery just off Higgins Avenue. The bartenders are happy to help you choose between cocktails, or you can let them run wild and create something new just for you. This is definitely a local hot spot, so you will see coworkers, couples, college students and friends meeting up for happy hour before heading home. The people-watching is great, so plan on lingering for a bit.

Check out the creative cocktails at Montgomery Distillery. Photo: Keryn Means

Shop Along Higgins Avenue in Missoula

No girls trip is complete without a little shopping, and Missoula does not disappoint. You can find the latest style trends along Higgins Avenue and the side streets. There are several local galleries highlighting Montana artists and jewelry makers, plus vintage shops offering clothing, home décor, knickknacks and pretty much anything else you need or didn’t know you wanted. A few favorites include The Artists’ Shop, 4 Ravens Gallery, La Belle Vita, Olive + Iron, Cloth & Crown and Pink Elephant.

Brunch at The Catalyst Cafe

Nothing says relaxation, at least to us, like someone else making you pancakes, waffles or eggs. Throw in an amazing chai latte and you have yourself brunch perfection. This is a delicious way to say farewell to Glacier Country before you pack up to head home from a fantastic getaway with friends. 

March 27, 2023

Related: Bigfork, Boating, Dining, Distilleries, Flathead Lake, Hot Springs, Kayaking, Missoula, Montana, Outdoor Fun, Shopping, Vacation