Due to the Federal Government shutdown, Glacier National Park is closed. And to put it simply, it’s a bummer.

But you know what’s not a bummer? There are so many things to see and do in Western Montana outside of the park. After all, our region is home to charming small towns, plentiful hiking and biking trails, local Montana breweries and scenic backroads that lead to adventure and an opportunity to find your own Montana moment.

Sampling locally made beer at Kettlehouse in Missoula.
Sampling locally made beer at Kettlehouse in Missoula.

Because I’m a bit bossy (it’s okay, I’ve come to embrace it), I’ve rounded up some activities and things to do if you plan on playing in Western Montana this fall. After all, while our national parks may be closed for the time being, Montana is indeed open.

Take a (Scenic) Drive
It seems like no matter which way you go in Montana, chances are you’ll find one of our scenic drives. Some of my personal favorites include cruising up to the Northfork to Polebridge, venturing off on a backcountry road near Eureka and taking in the sights and colors along the West Fork Road south of Darby.

Cruising the Seeley-Swan Valley.
Cruising the Seeley-Swan Valley.

Go Fish
As a Montana girl, it probably comes as no surprise that fly-fishing is one of my loves. (You may recall my love of fly-fishing from this post). While I don’t claim to be an avid or expert fisherman, I can tell you with conviction that nothing soothes my soul quite like fly-fishing. If you’re looking to cast a line in Western Montana, I’d suggest taking to the waters of the Bitterroot River and the Blackfoot River.

Putting in on the Bitterroot River just south of Darby.
Putting in on the Bitterroot River just south of Darby.

View Fall Foliage
While Montana may not be the first place you think of for viewing fall foliage, the state certainly delivers, especially if you’re smitten with yellows and golds. Top fall foliage viewing routes include the Seeley-Swan Valley on Highway 83, the Missoula Valley (best viewed by walking the trail along the Clark Fork River or hiking the M for a complete view of the valley) and the Bitterroot Valley on Highway 93. If you’re looking to get off-the-beaten path in the Bitterroot, venture off on the East Side Highway.

A look at fall in the Mission Valley, courtesy of Donnie Sexton.
A look at fall in the Mission Valley, courtesy of Donnie Sexton.

 Fall Events
This autumn is packed with fun upcoming events throughout Western Montana. Of note: Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish October 3 – 5; Scarecrow Festival in Stevensville October 5; Tamarack Time and Brewfest in Seeley Lake October 11 – 13; and Tamarack Time! in Bigfork October 19. An added bonus: Great Northwest Oktoberfest was just named one of the top Oktoberfest events in that nation by SheKnows.com

And if you have questions? Call us at 800.338.5072. Our travel counselors can help you make plans to experience the best of fall in our neck of the woods.


October 3, 2013

Related: Fall Fun


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