Category Archives: Native American Culture

Beyond the Park: Explore Western Montana’s Glacier Country

The Crown of the Continent. The Backbone of the World. Heaven on Earth. Glacier National Park boasts some pretty apt nicknames. But did you know the epic beauty and unrivaled adventure extend well beyond park boundaries? From charming small towns to pristine rivers and recreation areas, Montana offers a wonderland of discovery.

Blodgett Canyon Overlook shows off Western Montana’s classic big-mountain views. Photo: Noah Couser

Summertime is the park’s busiest season, making it the perfect time to explore what the rest of Western Montana’s Glacier Country has to offer. Here’s a list of things to do and places to see outside the park, plus a few tips and tricks to navigate our peak season and busiest times of day.

SCENIC DRIVES
The stunning scenery and glacial-carved terrain roll right on out of the park for hundreds of miles in every direction. Take the road less traveled on some of Montana’s scenic byways for a jaw-dropping drive in some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes. The best part? There’s usually a backroad adventure or hidden small-town treasure around every bend. Hit the road on one of our favorite routes:

Highway 200: Bonner to Clearwater Junction
Highway 83/Highway 12: Lolo to Idaho
St. Regis-Paradise Scenic Byway
Montana Tour 200 
Highway 2, Kalispell to Troy
Highway 89, St. Mary to Choteau
Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway

WILDLIFE VIEWING
Sometimes the best way to spot our majestic wildlife is to go where the crowds aren’t. Western Montana is a birder’s paradise and haven for creatures big and small, offering some pretty incredible viewing areas. Remember to bring your binoculars and always follow wildlife safety guidelines—this is grizzly country, after all! Head to one of our most-treasured wildlife habitat areas:

National Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge
National Bison Range
Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge
Bull River Wildlife Management Area

HIKING
One of the easiest ways to cover ground in and get up close and personal with Montana is to head out on your own two feet. Every single one of our trailheads leads to a path of discovery, running the gamut from easy rambles to backcountry wilderness treks. You’ll find sprawling valleys, wildflower-filled meadows, towering peaks, pristine alpine lakes and waterfalls, lush forestland and quiet canyons, all offering an awe-inspiring and unforgettable adventure. The following wilderness areas offer of miles upon miles of trails to explore, or check out more of our favorite trails here.

Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex
Cabinet Mountains Wilderness
Mission Mountains Wilderness Complex

OUTSIDE PLAY
From rodeos to rock climbing and zip lining to llama trekking, Western Montana offers infinite ways to play. Here, we hit the rivers and lakes for boating, rafting and world-class fly-fishing. We explore small towns for real cowboy adventures and relaxing yoga retreats. We take to the trails by bike and by horseback. Below are some of our favorite ways to play, Montana style:

Biking: Whitefish Bike Retreat
Gondola Rides: Whitefish Mountain Resort
Rafting: Adventure Missoula
Fly-Fishing, Kootenai Angler
Yoga Retreats: Dancing Spirit Ranch
Horseback Riding: Swan Mountain Outfitters
Llama Trekking: Swan Mountain
Rock Climbing at Lake Koocanusa: Rock Climb Montana
Cowboy Up: Rodeos

With Swan Mountain Outfitters, see Western Montana by horseback, on a llama or on your own two feet. Photo: Donnie Sexton

HISTORY + CULTURE
Montana’s rich heritage and breathtaking vistas inspire a cultural landscape you’ll not want to miss. From two Indian Nations—the Blackfeet and the Flathead—to numerous museums, galleries, theaters, historical sites, farmers markets, shops, eateries (from fine dining to food trucks) and watering holes (did we mention we have more than 20 breweries and distilleries?) you’ll be planning your next visit before this one’s even over. Check out the following Montana must-see cultural destinations:

Bigfork Summer Playhouse  
Missoula Art Museum  
Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana
Museum of Mountain Flying
Smokejumper Visitor Center

The Missoula Art Museum showcases a thriving art scene in Western Montana. Photo: Slikati Photography

LODGES + CABINS
Staying outside the park gives you the opportunity to explore some of our border-town communities infused with the spirit of Glacier Country and that warm western hospitality we’re known for. Take advantage of beyond-the-park adventures and then head into the park at less crowded times of day. Here are three friendly and memorable places to get cozy beyond park boundaries:

Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge
Park Cabin Co.
Polebridge Cabins

STATE PARKS + FISHING ACCESS SITES
Psst…did you know that Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks fishing access sites are also campsites? Check out their website for campsite info. We love our state parks, and while many do reach capacity throughout the summer, they offer a true and unforgettable Western Montana outdoor experience. Make your way to one of the following public-land paradises: 

Logan State Park 
Thompson Falls State Park
Placid Lake State Park  
Salmon Lake State Park 

Swim, boat, fish and play at Placid Lake in the Swan Valley, a Glacier Country gem. Photo: Kelsey Lau

PEAK SEASON TRAVEL TIPS + TRICKS
Glacier National Park is expecting another record year for visitor numbers. Planning your trip with this in mind can help you navigate some of the peak-season challenges. Check out Glacier National Park’s Twitter feed for real-time updates on parking-lot statuses, weather, road closures, and other important information. Webcam feeds are also updated on Glacier website for some of the park’s most popular spots.

Here are few other tips and tricks we recommend for making your visit to Glacier National Park enjoyable and memorable:

  • Take a Tour: Help reduce traffic and hop on a bus for an educational and interactive tour with Red Bus Tours or Sun Tours. Check on the Glacier Institute’s list of summer programs and outings.
  • Shuttle it: Ride Glacier National Park’s Free Shuttle System.
  • Plan for delays: With a record number of people heading to Glacier National Park this summer, roads, parking lots and trails will be busier. Pack extra food and water, and set aside a little extra time to fully enjoy your adventure in The Crown of the Continent.

One of the best experiecnes you can have in Glacier National Park—a Red Bus Tour.

There’s so much to see and do in Glacier Country. From our charming small town to the Going-to-the-Sun Road, we’ve got a lifetime of discovery and experiences to offer. Come see for yourself!

Celebrate our Tribal Nations: Pow Wows and Events in Western Montana

Established as a state in 1889, Montana boasts sweeping plains, big blue skies, majestic mountains and an amazingly rich history. But Montana’s history didn’t begin with Lewis and Clark’s expedition of the West; it began thousands of years prior. The plains and mountains that make up Montana are rich with cultural heritage—a deep, colorful tapestry that weaves tradition, art, music, dance, storytelling, adventure, industry and leisure. This creates a place of awe-inspiring spirit and wonder.

A trio of Blackfeet dancers in Glacier National Park.

Home to seven Indian reservations and 12 tribes: the Assiniboine, Blackfeet, Chippewa, Cree, Crow, Gros Ventres, Kootenai, Little Shell, Northern Cheyenne, Pend d’Oreilles, Salish and Sioux, each of these tribal nations observes and celebrates their own distinct story, heritage and traditions.

Western Montana’s Glacier Country is home to two Indian reservations—Flathead and Blackfeet—that share their culture against a backdrop of sacred landscapes, often through pow wows and storytelling.

Experience our beautiful history with the following sacred events.

Blackfeet Nation

North American Indian Days

This summer will mark the 67th Annual North American Indian Days in Browning, Montana. July 12 – 15, 2018, experience authentic Blackfeet customs, like traditional and fancy dancing, listen to the beauty of the drum and be a part of one of the largest gatherings of Plains Indian Tribes in North America.

Blackfeet dancers performing under the shadows of Glacier National Park.

Heart Butte Celebration

Tradition is revered August 9 – 12, 2018 in the community of Heart Butte (26 miles south of Browning) at this annual four-day celebration. Tipis and wall tents line the pow wow grounds, setting the scene for contest dancing, games and sporting events.

Flathead Indian Reservation

Annual Arlee 4th of July Celebration

Celebrate the 120th Annual Arlee Celebration June 28 – July 4, 2018 at the Arlee Powwow Grounds in Arlee, Montana. This pow wow is the premier annual celebration of the Salish and Pend d’Oreille tribes. Filled with traditional dance competitions, singing, traditional drumming and a huge July 4 parade, this celebration is a must.

Dancers compete at the Arlee Pow Wow. Photo: Chad Harder

Standing Arrow Pow Wow

The 41st Annual Standing Arrow Powwow takes place July 13 – 15, 2018 at the Elmo Pow Wow Grounds in Elmo, Montana. Vendors, dancers, drummers and visitors from Canada. The Kootenai nation and its Kootenai Cultural Committee will host this beautiful gathering. Experience the sights and sounds of this amazing pow wow for an unforgettable experience.

Competitors gather at the Standing Arrow Powwow.

Hidden History Gems: Meet Montana’s Off-The-Beaten-Path Museums

History buffs + eager explorers—this one’s for you. Western Montana is home to several museums, some of which are a little off the beaten path, making them all the more explore-worthy. These hidden gems display everything from American Indian beadwork to homesteader history to storied lake monsters, and each one offers a celebration and preservation of Montana’s rich heritage, coupled with a unique adventure in small-town discovery.

The eclectic Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana. Photo: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

TROY MUSEUM & VISITOR CENTER
Troy, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Step back in time and experience the cultural and natural heritage of Troy Learn about Troy’s homesteading days, mining and logging life, and the 1910 fire, and play a round of folf (frisbee golf) at the museum’s on-site course. If you time it right, you can attend the Arts on the Grass event on the museum lawn, where local artists and craftspeople sell their handmade work, perfect for taking something home to remember us by.

OLD JAIL MUSEUM
Thompson Falls, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Visit one of Sanders County’s oldest buildings, now honoring the pioneers who settled our corner of Big Sky Country. The Old Jail Museum was formerly the county jail, and sheriff’s office and residence. View historical artifacts, maps and photographs taken from original glass negatives giving a glimpse into the early days of mining, logging, farming and ranching in Sanders County. Also, the town of Thompson Falls is a hidden gem in and of itself, offering Clark Fork River access and pristine national forestland recreation.

NINEPIPES MUSEUM OF EARLY MONTANA
Charlo, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Nestled in the breathtaking Mission Mountains, this Mission Valley treasure protects and preserves the history and culture of the Flathead Indian Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. You’ll find American Indian artifacts (including a large collection of beadwork); a life-size diorama of wildlife in an early camp scene complete with elk-hide tipis; vintage photographs; a collection of weaponry; and a gallery of Old West art. Ninepipes offers tours and a nature trail, plus it’s close to the National Bison Range and bordered by Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge, so be prepared to spend some time in the area.

Ninepipes Museum of Early Montana display’s the history and culture of the Flathead Indian People.

MUSEUM OF THE PLAINS INDIAN
Browning, Montana
Open: Year-Round
This permanent exhibition gallery displays a diverse and bountiful collection of historic art created by tribal people of the Northern Plains, as well as contemporary work by American Indian artists and craftspeople. You’ll find traditional, detailed costumes on life-size figures. Other displays exhibit the social and ceremonial aspects of the region’s tribes. Help support individual artists and craftspeople by taking home a meaningful souvenir. The museum galleries offer oil paintings, watercolors, sculptures, beadwork and traditional crafts for sale.

Blackfeet exhibit at Museum of the Plains Indian. Photo: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

TOBACCO VALLEY HISTORICAL VILLAGE
Eureka, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Sitting along the Tobacco River, this unique, volunteer-run village houses a collection of historic buildings from the 1880s and early 1900s. Explore a schoolhouse, church, library, general store, fire tower, railroad depot, caboose and several log cabins, all outfitted with era-appropriate artifacts. Interpretive programs are also offered on site. Bring a picnic lunch, and explore the adjoining Eureka Riverwalk Trail or the Eureka Kootenai Rails to Trails/Tobacco River Memorial Trail.

LARUE-HOT SPRINGS MUSEUM
Hot Springs, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Paying homage to the Hot Springs homesteader days, this little gem showcases a gathering of artifacts from local tribes and homesteader families, plus a large doll collection and the trophies and ribbons won by local resident Fay Hayne, a local trick rider and barrel racer. Also on display, 120 years of VFW uniforms and memorabilia, antique farming equipment and trucks, plus artifacts from local merchants, craftsmen and ranchers. Explore a historic cabin and the original Hot Springs concrete jail.

GLACIER COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM & ARCHIVE
Cut Bank, Montana
Open: Year-Round
This museum includes a captivating collection of historical artifacts, buildings and memorabilia on display, as well as a comprehensive early history of the people of the region, including a vast Blackfeet Indian collection. The 14-acre site is home to two museum exhibit buildings, an oil worker’s house, oil derrick, 1917 schoolhouse, 1980’s caboose and a living-history interpretive replica homestead house and farm. History buffs can also find educational and interactive exhibits on Lewis and Clark, local artists, community businesses, oil and Cut Bank’s early days.

The Glacier County Historical Museum has numerous displays and exhibits of the county’s diverse past.

POLSON FLATHEAD HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Polson, Montana
Open: Memorial Day – Labor Day
Home of the Flathead Lake Monster—a 7.5-foot, 181-pound sturgeon caught in Flathead Lake in 1955—the Polson-Flathead Historical Museum offers firsthand examples of the trials of surviving the harsh conditions of the region’s homesteading days. Exhibits include a trading post, stagecoaches, a chuck wagon and buggies, a pioneer kitchen, Calamity Jane’s saddle from her “Last Ride,” firefighting equipment and antique trucks that still work!

SEELEY LAKE HISTORICAL MUSEUM
Seeley Lake, Montana
Open: Year-Round
The old Double Arrow Ranch barn is now the site of the Seeley Lake Historical Museum and Visitor Center, recalling the past of the Seeley Lake region. Outside displays include a horse-drawn log-haul wagon, a gravel haul and spread wagon, a Lewis and Clark Botanical Garden, Blackfoot Indian Lodge, a dugout canoe and a forthcoming 100-year-old canoe. The grounds also include seven double (two-horse) stalls featuring locally-themed displays named after the horses who occupied them, such as Nip & Tuck: Old Time Logging; Ace & Joker: Norman Maclean Fire and Fish Display; and Popcorn & Peanuts: Cabin Fever Cures.

BRAND BAR MUSEUM
Ovando, Montana
Open: Year-Round
Formerly a saloon once referred to as the “Bucket of Blood,” the Brand Bar Museum today houses Ovando memorabilia and stories of days gone by. This collection of local history and unique antiques also has a hoosegow—a jail for visitors—where you can overnight in a bunk (or you can camp out on the lawn). The Brand Bar Museum is always open. Just ask one of the nearby local businesses for the key. You’ll find it.

A Blackfoot Valley gem: The Brand Bar Museum. Photo: Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development

RAVALLI COUNTY MUSEUM & HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Hamilton, Montana
Open: Year-Round
Blending art with local and natural history, this cultural venue provides rare historical collections honoring our American Indian heritage, life in the West and the travels of Lewis and Clark. Educational programming includes lectures, tours and workshops for children. The museum serves as a hub for community events, including McIntosh Apple Days, A Cowboy Christmas and Bitter Root Day, and is situated at the confluence of the Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail, the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Winter Road Trips and Scenic Drives in Western Montana

Road trips are often equated with summertime, or at least with the warmer months (and by warmer we mean no threat of snowy road conditions). But here’s the thing: we recreate outdoors all year here in Western Montana, so we’re always on the road driving from one ski hill, Nordic paradise or snowmobile trail to another, and we’re here to tell you this—the winter panoramas from the pavement here are pretty magical, and the stops along the way are, too. 

Winter views in Western Montana, like East Glacier’s Dancing Lady Mountain, will not disappoint. Photo: Tracey Vivar

A winter road trip in Glacier Country is always good for a snow-season refresh, whether you get out for a few hours or a whole day, or you turn your travels into an overnight adventure. Never-ending bluebird skies against pure white snow sparkling in the sunshine? Yes please.

Here are a few of our favorite winter drives in Western Montana:

RAVALLI TO ST. REGIS – TOUR 200 + ST. REGIS/PARADISE SCENIC BYWAY
53 Miles
Just outside of Ravalli, head west on Highway 200 traveling along with the Flathead River as it snakes through scenic valley vistas. You’ll pass through the small towns of Dixon—famous for their mouthwatering Dixon Melons—and Perma. As this two-lane highway winds down the valley, the mountains continue to get more and more grand. Head south on Highway 135, following the Clark Fork River down the St. Regis/Paradise Scenic Byway. Stop for a soak at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort or a meal at their historic Harwood House Restaurant. Continue south down this picturesque mountain highway until you reach St. Regis. Stop at the St. Regis Travel Center for gas and a huckleberry shake, and don’t miss the free live trout aquarium!

Highway 135 follows alongside the Clark Fork River, making for a gorgeous and fun drive. Photo: Jerrie Bullock

MISSOULA TO SULA HIGHWAY 93
82 Miles
This four-lane highway takes you straight through the always-gorgeous Bitterroot Valley. From Missoula, drive south towards Lolo, admiring the many towering peaks of this picturesque range, like Lolo and St. Mary. Make an appointment with the Holt Heritage Museum for a history lesson on cowboy culture, American Indians and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. From Lolo, head to Florence and on through Stevensville, Victor and finally to Hamilton. Continue south on 93 until you see the right-hand turn for Lake Como Road. Follow that until you reach the Lake Como Group Picnic Site. Check the Bitterroot National Forest website for trail information, or just enjoy the views of Lake Como underneath Western Montana’s El Capitan and West Como Peak.

Jump back on Highway 93 towards the quaint, Old West town of Darby, where you can fuel up on food and gas, or extend your trip with a stay at Alta Ranch—a great place for cross-country skiing. Highway 93 takes you past Lost Trail Powder Mountain and Chief Joseph Pass for more cross-country-country skiing, snowshoeing or winter hiking.

HIGHWAY 12 SCENIC DRIVE
70 Miles
Highway 12 into Idaho is one spectacular drive, especially in the winter. This two-lane highway weaves through the lush Lolo National Forest. Check out Travelers’ Rest State Park for a little Lewis and Clark history. Highway 12 follows West Fork Lolo Creek, and with the density of the trees and slope of the surrounding mountains, this beautiful drive makes you feel far away from it all. Take a much-deserved stop Lolo Hot Springs for a mineral soak, a warm meal or place to rest your head. Lolo Hot Springs is close to easy snowshoe and cross-country trails (Lolo Pass). Head back towards Lolo to enjoy a different view, but take it easy on this winding mountain road. When you’re back in Lolo, treat yourself to a steak dinner.

WHITEFISH TO WEST GLACIER
26 Miles
Thousands travel this route throughout the summer months, but as a winter drive, it’s just as stunning. Begin in Whitefish with views of a winter Whitefish Lake, or take a fat-bike ride around Beaver Lake with Whitefish Bike Retreat. Outside of Whitefish, head south on Highway 93 to Highway 40 toward Columbia Falls. Highway 40 becomes Highway 2 as you drive into the mouth of this breathtaking canyon. Covered in ice and snow, the Flathead River is truly stunning. Stop in Hungry Horse at the Huckleberry Patch for a slice of homemade Montana pie or fudge. Continue on Highway 2, making a stop at Glacier Distilling Company in Coram (be sure to designate your driver). Highway 2 passes through West Glacier, with access to Glacier National Park. For winter access to Lake McDonald, head north to Apgar Village. The Apgar Visitor Center has weekend hours throughout the winter months. Make sure to check their hours online.

Fat bikes are one cool way to sightsee around Glacier Country. Photo: Adam Caira

The National Park Service also offers weekend ranger-guided snowshoe park tours January through March. Make sure to check the Going-to-the-Sun Road status to see how far into the park the road is open.

Lake McDonald’s keeps its stunning allure all year long.

POLSON TO POLSON: FLATHEAD LAKE LOOP
87.5 Miles
See Flathead Lake from all sides. From Polson, head northwest on Highway 93. Stop by the Kwataqnuk Resort & Casino for a little extra fun. Stay on 93 towards Big Arm and Flathead State Park. Wraps around the “big arm” of the lake through Elmo, Dayton, and Rollins. Lakeside Motel & Resort offers relaxing and scenic lakeside lodging, plus delicious food. From Lakeside, continue north to Somers and then take a left on Highway 82, which will take you past Kalispell Bay and over the Flathead River, then turn onto Highway 35 heading south.

Bigfork is a real charmer. Determine your designated driver and stop by Flathead Lake Brewing Company, or check out The Barn Antiques, Consignment & Gifts. Afterwards, travel on to the stellar winter lake views at Wayfarers/Flathead Lake State Park. We recommend taking it easy on this two-lane highway, for safety reasons and because the winter views of Flathead Lake are incredible. Continue on past Woods Bay towards Finley Point, where we recommend sitting down for dinner at Finley Point Grill.

ESSEX TO ST. MARY
72 Miles
Taking the route from Essex to St. Mary is a unique way to see a very wintry Glacier Country. In Essex, start by cross-country skiing or snowshoeing from the Izaak Walton Inn. If you’re looking for a place to spend the night, rent one of their cabins or iconic renovated cabooses. From Essex, head east on Highway 2. This two-lane highway winds through the mountains, including Mt. Furlong, Snowslip Mountain and Calf Robe Mountain. Wintertime in East Glacier is quiet, but you’ll enjoy the view of Glacier National Park’s peaks where they meet the plains of Eastern Montana. Take the more frequently traveled Highway 2 east towards Browning or the less-traveled Highway 49 north towards Lower Two Medicine Lake, which eventually meets Highway 89. In Browning, check out Faught’s Blackfeet Trading Post or the Museum of the Plains Indian for fascinating American Indian history. Beyond Browning, jump on Highway 89 heading west, passing through the small towns of Star and Kiowa. Continue north until you reach the junction back into the park to see Saint Mary Lake or Lower St. Mary Lake. Travel into Glacier National Park on the east side is a bit more limited than the west, but always know what’s open by checking road conditions online.

Look to the north on Highway 2 for a view of Calf Robe Mountain. Photo: Tracey Vivar

WINTER DRIVING SAFETY TIPS

  • Check out Montana Department of Transportation’s Travel Map for up-to-date road conditions.
  • Travel with sleeping bags, blankets, extra water and food, extra warm clothes, and look ahead for where cell service may be spotty or nonexistent.  
  • Make sure your vehicle is well-maintained: working headlights and tail lights, coolant, windshield wipers, tire pressure, etc.
  • Take it slow! Road conditions may change quickly.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife.
  • Assign a designated driver if consuming alcohol.
  • Refuel when you can—in some areas, gas stations can be few and far between.
  • Always check business hours before stopping, in case there are weather-related closings or changes.    

We love our wildlife, so please watch carefully for bighorn sheep or other animals while driving. Photo: Jerrie Bullock

A Chuckwagon Dinner at Montana’s Z5 Ranch

There’s a new sheriff in town. Okay, not really, but there is a new guest ranch in Western Montana (and that’s kind of like the same thing).

Last night, the folks at Z5 Ranch in Arlee had their first ever chuckwagon dinner and because I love all things ranch, Montana and—let’s be honest—food (you can read more about that here), I jumped at the opportunity to attend. I grabbed two of my best girls and we made the short drive (about 25 minutes) to the ranch from Missoula.

Upon arrival, the chaos of the day drifted away. Here’s why…

This view greeted us upon arrival.

This view greeted us upon arrival.

Yeehaw.

Yee-haw.

Z5 is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. An added bonus: guests can stay in the tipis at the ranch.

Z5 is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation. An added bonus: guests can stay in the tipis at the ranch.

The view from the bed in the tipi.

The view from the bed in the tipi.

As part of their chuckwagon dinner event, the folks at Z5 also let you pet/visit the animals that call the ranch home. Last night’s furry guests include horses, baby chicks, rabbits, a cow that literally wandered around (she was cute) and adorable goats.

The goats and I quickly became BFFs.

The goats and I quickly became BFFs.

I may have fallen in love with this rabbit.  She reminded me of my own rabbits that I tricked my parents into getting me when I was little. Sidenote: my rabbit's names were Sally and Hot Stuff. I hope no one ever lets me name kids.

I may have fallen in love with this (super soft) rabbit. She reminded me of my own rabbits that I tricked my parents into getting me when I was little. Sidenote: my rabbit’s names were Sally and Hot Stuff. I hope no one ever lets me name kids.

Hey baby.

Hey baby.

Summer perfection.

Summer perfection.

I took advantage of the shade and tranquility by the pond.

I took advantage of the shade and tranquility by the pond.

Soon, the dinner bell rang (which I loved) and we all gathered in the barn for a dinner that was comprised of locally sourced bison steak, seasonal potatoes and a tasty peach and huckleberry crisp. After dinner we headed outside for the evening’s entertainment. And you guys, I have to tell you one thing about last night’s entertainment: it was kind of perfect.

Kyle and Zach Felsman kicked off the night with drumming and singing.

Kyle and Zach Felsman kicked off the night with drumming and singing.

This cowboy poet was, hands down, the best I've ever heard.

This cowboy poet was, hands down, the best I’ve ever heard.

Local musicians Matt and Dan (who are also in the popular Montana band Shodown) serenaded us.

Local musicians Matt and Dan (who are also in the popular Montana band Shodown) serenaded us.

The night's entertainment ended with Salish dancers.

The night’s entertainment ended with Salish dancers.

At the end of the night, I knew that I’d been part of something special. I’ve been a Montana girl my whole life, but there was something different and completely authentic in the way the stories of the evening (from the family history and being welcomed in Salish to the cowboy poetry and the American Indian dancing) came together to tell a beautiful, well-rounded story.

xo,
TT

PS: Z5 Ranch hosts chuckwagon dinners throughout the summer. For the most current schedule, be sure to visit their website.

Montana: Sometimes There Are No Words

Every once in a while, there are moments when this girl wonders if the last few days have been real. Once such moment happened last week.

I’d been on the road for work for several days and had seen some pretty amazing Montana moments along the way. As I was searching for the words to describe what I’d seen and felt, I realized that sometimes no words are needed.

This my friends, is one of those times.

Taking in the view at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Taking in the view at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

 

Watching the sunrise at Tally Lake.

Watching the sunrise at Tally Lake.

 

The view from a Montana backroad.

The view from a Montana backroad.

Watching the next generation marvel at the majesty of Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park.

Seeing the next generation marvel at the majesty of Trail of the Cedars in Glacier National Park.

American Indian dancers in Glacier National Park.

American Indian dancers in Glacier National Park.

The early morning mystery at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

The early morning mystery at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park.

Greeting the day with a red bus tour in Glacier National Park.

Greeting the day with a red bus tour in Glacier National Park.

The view toward Logan Pass from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

The view toward Logan Pass from the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

xo,
TT

Exploring the Blackfeet Nation

Last week, I headed over to the east side of the Continental Divide to spend a bit of time on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. Bordering the east side of Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Nation is a beautiful place where the wind-swept plains meet the rolling foothills before being engulfed by the impressive rise of the peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Looking down into Glacier National Park's Two Medicine Valley.

There’s something about the Blackfeet Nation that feels almost magical to me. Perhaps it’s the hours my family spent here when I was just a little blond-haired missy. Or maybe it’s the wild beauty of it that nearly takes my breath away. Perhaps it’s the rich history, culture, heritage and strength of the Blackfeet people. But to pick just one thing that makes this land so special is nearly impossible. So I won’t. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Blackfeet warrior sculptures greet visitors at the Blackfeet Nation's four entrances.

The tribe's bison herd relaxes in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

Happy trails,
TT

PS: To learn more about the Blackfeet Nation, visit www.glaciermt.io.

Montana Summer: A Photo Recap

I’m not sure how many of you feel this way, but this girl is having a hard time saying goodbye to summer. It’s like I blinked and all of the sudden it’s gone.

This summer was definitely one for the books, with thousands of miles logged, countless scoops of ice cream consumed and beautiful snapshots of images that will be carried with me always. And while I’m looking forward to autumn, colorful fall foliage, beautiful drives and spiced cider, my heart is still mourning the loss of summer.

But instead of saying goodbye, I’m going to bid summer a hearty farewell, so long and a hope to see you soon. And summer, until we meet again, I’m going to remember the good times and adventures we shared under Montana’s big blue sky.

Lake McDonald from Apgar, Glacier National Park

A quiet creek near Stevensville, Bitterroot Valley

Outdoor summer concert - Missoula

Kerr Dam - Flathead Valley

Late summer afternoon - Tobacco Valley

Early morning sunrise - St. Ignatius

A summer tradition - Serrano's in East Glacier

Fly-fishing with friends in the rain - Glacier National Park

Hello beautiful - Glacier National Park

Hiking with baby brother - Holland Falls

Blackfeet Nation

Missoula from Mt. Sentinel

Summer = Strawberry Lemonade

Seeley-Swan Valley

Montana hugs and kisses,
TT

Five Days in Glacier Country, Montana

Happy first day of autumn! I hope this finds you each well, relishing the past months of summer and looking forward to a beautiful fall.

Last week, I headed off for a few days with two of my favorite Montana ladies and some friends from Europe. We were together a total of five days (give or take a few hours) and definitely made the most of our time by exploring Western Montana’s Glacier Country and cramming in as much fun as we possibly could.

Our trip included exploring Whitefish, Missoula and Kalispell, sampling beer from Great Northern Brewery, zip lining/Walk in the Treetops at Whitefish Mountain Resort, a trail ride at Bar W Guest Ranch, lake cruises on Whitefish Lake and Flathead Lake, a red bus tour in Glacier National Park, checking out museums, rafting, hiking and eating delicious food from Whitefish to Somers and Missoula to Charlo. But instead of just telling you about it, I’m going to show you.

A boat ride aboard 'Lady of the Lake' on Whitefish Lake.

Traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road in our red bus.

Beautiful McDonald Creek in Glacier National Park.

Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park

The Far West docking in Lakeside, Montana.

Ninepipes Museum in Charlo, Montana

A Kootenai Indian Dress on display at Ninepipes Museum.

A kayaker enjoying a late summer paddle on Brennan's Wave in Missoula, Montana.

We rode the Carousel!

Checking out a plane used by smokejumpers at the Smokejumper Visitor Center in Missoula, Montana.

Until next week,
TT

Montana Summer: Let’s Plan For Fun

Happy June!

Can you believe I just wrote that? Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the last few months have absolutely flown by…but I’m not even mad about it. Because that means summer is HERE! Well, almost. (It’s coming, I promise.)

For many of you, you may be planning your vacation to Montana this year, still deciding where you’re heading or heck, maybe you’re on your way to us now. To help you in your decision, we’ve pulled together some events and happenings that are sure to make your vacation a little bit sweeter.

JUNE
Western Heritage Days
The quaint community of Stevensville hosts Western Heritage Days, June 17 – 18. The celebration marks 170 years of Stevensville as a community and includes a parade, St. Mary’s Mission tours, dancing and a chuckwagon cook-off.

St. Mary's Mission, Stevensville

Libby Logger Days
Held June 23 – 26 in the northwest corner of Montana, Libby Logger Days is an educational event that shares the forestry culture with attendees. The festivities include a carnival, boxing smoker, kids logging competition, parade, live music, lawn mower races and an adult logging competition.

JULY
David Thompson Days
For folks looking to stroll 200 years back in time, head to Thompson Falls to participate in David Thompson Days, held July 2, where re-enactors replicate the lifestyle of early North American exploration, survival and trade. As part of the festivities, you’ll see historic displays and demonstrations, primitive arts and crafts, live music and games. David Thompson Days take a special look at explorer David Thompson (1770 – 1857), who traveled more than 50,000 miles by foot, horse and canoe as he mapped many of the uncharted territories in upper North America.

North American Indian Days
This year, North American Indian Days marks its 60th annual celebration July 7 – 10 on the Blackfeet Nation in Browning. One of the largest gatherings of North American tribes, the event provides insight into Blackfeet traditions, with dancing, traditional games and a rodeo.

North American Indian Days, Browning.

Flathead Cherry Festival
Held July 16 – 17 in Polson, the Flathead Cherry Festival celebrates the sweet, dark cherry that grows in orchards along the shores of Flathead Lake. The festival includes a cherry pie eating contest, quilting contest and is a great family event. Plus, a stellar crop is expected for this year’s harvest.

AUGUST
Huckleberry Festival
Located in Trout Creek, this festival celebrates the beloved purple berry and is held August 12 – 14. The festival includes a parade, street dance, auction, children’s activities and numerous craft and food vendors. Small town fun at its best!

Mmm, huckleberries. Photo courtesy Donnie Sexton/Montana Office of Tourism

River City Roots Festival
Held August 27 – 28, the River City Roots Fest is Missoula at its finest. The festival includes all-day music stages, a juried art show, family activities and a 4K walk/run.

For more events happening throughout the summer, visit www.glaciermt.io.

TT