First things first: Happy spring!
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’ll be straight with you. I know it seems like spring is not actually here (especially with the 14 inches of fresh snow at Whitefish Mountain Resort), but I promise you she’s on her way.
The view from Apgar Lookout webcam in Glacier National Park on the first day of spring.
Sure, spring plays coy every once in a while and is known to have a flair for the dramatic, but she is also one of the loveliest seasons in Montana. During her reign, Montana is covered with blooming flowers, emerging wildlife, fresh mountain air and bright blue skies. And with all of those attributes, you’d think spring would be a popular time to visit Montana…right?
Well, I’ve got good news for you: Spring in a season that is still largely undiscovered, especially here in Glacier Country. It’s not because she’s not enchanting, it’s just that her big sister summer is Montana’s most popular season in terms of the most time to visit. And while summer will likely remain Big Sky Country’s reigning queen, little miss spring is definitely holding her own.
Here’s are my top picks for some of the best places to experience spring in Montana.
Glacier National Park
While the park is open year-round, spring is one of the quietest times to visit. And even though the Going-to-the-Sun Road isn’t open in its entirety to vehicular traffic until at least June 20, there are still ample opportunities to play in Glacier National Park. Topping the list: biking the iconic road. Read more about biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road in this story from Elevation Outdoors.
Biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
The view from the loop on the Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Additional activities: Wildlife watching (be sure to keep a safe distance and never feed wildlife), red bus tours (the Huckleberry Tour begins May 25) and hiking. For the latest updates on which hiking trails are clear of snow, call 406.888.7800.
Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Browning (open year-round), Historic Tamarack Lodge & Cabins in Hungry Horse (open year-round) and Glacier Outdoor Center (opens in April). Additional properties around the park open in early May.
In the news: Fodor’s recently picked Glacier National Park as one of the 10 best national parks to visit this spring. Read more about it here.
This is one of the cutest towns you’ll come across in Western Montana. Located on the bay of Flathead Lake, it has an adorable downtown village, fun shops and easy access to hiking trails and water fun. In the spring, Bigfork also has a wide variety of events including Taste of Bigfork and Bigfork Whitewater Festival. Scheduled for May 24 and 25, the festival has kayakers paddling on the class IV section of the “Wild Mile” of the Swan River.
The Raven in Woods Bay (just south of Bigfork).
Additional activities: Take time to stroll through downtown and check out the art galleries and restaurants that call this quaint town home. Also, be sure to take the short drive south to The Raven for dinner and a drink. And if you’re looking to land a fish? Book a trip with Bagley Guide Service or Crane Mountain Guide Service.
Where to stay: Mountain Lake Lodge (gorgeous views of Flathead Lake) or Bridge Street Cottages.
With the Clark Fork River flowing through the heart of downtown, spring takes off early in Missoula. (Side note: I’ve already seen kayakers paddling on Brennan’s Wave). And while there are events that happen here in the spring (like the International Wildlife Film Festival and Garden City Brewfest), it’s the easy accessibility to the outdoors that make Missoula a standout destination.
A spring stroll on the Clark Fork River.
Additional activities: Hike the M Trail on Mount Sentinel, take in the view of Missoula from Blue Mountain Recreation Area or bike the Clark Fork riverfront trails. Plus, the driving range at Canyon River Golf Club is officially open, with the rest of the course slated to open in the next few weeks.
Where to stay: Gibson Mansion Bed & Breakfast (Tom’s scones are insanely delicious), C’Mon Inn (numerous hot tubs to soak your muscles after hiking) and Holiday Inn Downtown at the Park.
Here’s to a fun-filled spring.