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Posted 02 Oct, 2022 | No comments
Posted in: Montana, Things To Do

Kalispell is probably most well-known for its close and convenient location to Glacier National Park, but aside from that, Kalispell is also an ideal Montana mountain town as it has everything you could ever want.

Here you’ll find a national park for hiking, a river for fishing, a large lake for boating, and a charming downtown to wander around. Kalispell is one of the best places to visit in Montana as it has something for everyone.

The first time I visited, it filled me with anticipation of all the adventures to come. It’s right around the corner from some of the most beautiful places in the entire United States and there are endless things to do in Kalispell throughout the year.

Kalispell is a family-friendly town surrounded by the Rocky Mountain landscape and ready for you to visit. In Kalispell, you’ll be greeted by friendly faces, scenic views, robust restaurant options, and charming places to stay.

Consider this vibrant Montana mountain town for your next trip as there are so many things to do in and around Kalispell Montana.

15 Best Things To Do in Kalispell

Kalispell has a variety of activities for all kinds of travelers’ interests. Whether you want to escape into the wilderness, go on a guided tour of a local attraction or visit a modern brewery, Kalispell has a little bit of everything.

With a willingness to try something new, you’ll find that you can feel right at home in this beautiful city.

a clickable map that shows the best things to do and attractions in and around Kalispell, Montana, USA (MT)

1. Hike With a Local Near Glacier National Park

In terms of things to do in Kalispell, you’d be foolish to miss out on the beauty surrounding Glacier National Park. The park itself can be busy, but the national forest land surrounding it is spectacular and far more secluded. It’s truly rugged wilderness with thousands of miles of trails and terrain to explore.

Visiting the park as well as the areas surrounding are by far the best things to do in Kalispell.

Hiking with a local near Glacier National Park, Montana.

Book this hiking tour with a local guide to the top of Mount Aeneas. On the hike, you’ll learn more about the history of the area and take in the views! The guide will snap all of the pictures you’d like too, so you’ll have plenty of photos to go home with.

The hike itself is 6.2 miles and gains around 1,800 feet of elevation. While it’s a challenging hike, it’ll give you a glimpse of the beauty that is found in northern Montana. The guide will meet you in Kalispell and take you to the trailhead where you’ll begin your adventure.

The tour costs around $200 per person.

2. ATV Rentals

Renting ATVs near Kalispell is a great way to see the area. Most people spend time driving their cars or hiking, so many miles of the land are left unseen unless you have an all-terrain vehicle. Action Rentals in Onsby, half an hour north of Kalispell, offers everything you would want in an ATV rental company.

I took the opportunity to rent ATVs on my last trip to Kalispell and I was so glad I did. I saw things that I never would have seen from the road or on my own two feet. We were able to see a Grizzly Bear and get back to a backcountry mountain stream to fly fish.

You can choose to rent the ATVs and take them nearby or choose to book a tour through the company. The guided tours take you all over the national forest land that surrounds the towns. They’ll take you all over Whitefish and Eureka!

These areas have phenomenal mountain views and amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.

It’s well worth taking in northern Montana on an ATV. You can even rent snowmobiles from them in the winter and explore the miles and miles of trails during different times of the year.

3. Private Rock Climbing Tour Near Whitefish

Located just north of Kalispell, the town of Whitefish offers amazing outdoor adventuring. The Mountain Guides offer private tours in all of the surrounding areas. Learn new skills or grow your already expansive repertoire and learn about some new routes to climb in the areas around Kalispell.

These tours are some of the best in Montana. The climbing around Kalispell is heavily underrated, and most people who visit don’t even consider doing it. They offer full-day climbing adventures and half-day adventures.

A woman rock climbing.

The prices begin at $150 per person for the full-day tours and around $115 per person for half-day tours. Take your skills to the next level with these amazing guides.

4. West Glacier and Polebridge Full Day Tour

The West Glacier and Polebridge Full Day tour is a unique opportunity to experience Kalispell and the surrounding areas. It’s around a 6-hour tour with a variety of activities included. You’ll begin the tour by stopping at Hungry Horse Reservoir to take a look at the dam infrastructure.

Your guide will give you the history and all of the interesting background knowledge about it.

From there, you’ll head to the West Glacier National Park entrance. Here, you’ll take a picture by the welcome sign and make your way to Lake MacDonald. You’ll walk out along the dock and the shoreline and hear of the unique history and tales of local wildlife. Lake MacDonald is one of the best places in the entire National Park.

After the lake, you’ll move on to the Apgar Visitor Center where you can purchase some local merchandise and explore more about the history of the park. From the Apgar Visitor Center, you’ll make your last stop at Polebridge, a historic outpost.

Along the way, you’ll see the North Fork River and all of the waterfalls along North Fork Road. This last stop is just 20 miles south of the Canadian Border. After you visit Polebridge, you’ll head back to the pickup point in Whitefish.

Prices start at around $450 per person and lunch is included. You’ll be responsible for a $20 pick-up fee in Kalispell or Whitefish.

5. Whitewater Raft: Half Day Scenic Float on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Whitewater rafting on the Flathead River is one of my favorite life experiences so far. I went in mid-June when runoff was still in full swing and we had an absolute blast. If you choose to float the Middle Fork, it’s important to understand that it’s more of a leisurely float.

You won’t be facing massive rapids, but you’ll be able to experience the surrounding beauty.

A group of people on a whitewater rafting tour in Montana.

You’ll start the tour at the West Glacier office where you’ll take a shuttle to the drop-in point. From here, your guide will take you on a two-hour float of the Middle Fork right along the boundary of Glacier National Park. You’ll quickly be immersed in the mountain views and plentiful wildlife.

Starting at around $100, you’re in for an absolute treat when you choose this whitewater tour. Find out more about the best whitewater destinations in Montana here.

Planning to visit other areas in Montana? See these posts:

6. East Glacier and Two Medicine Tour from Whitefish

Since Glacier National Park is so large, it can be overwhelming to know what to explore. My first trip felt a bit underwhelming because I was so unprepared and had no plan of what I should do. By booking a tour, you know exactly what to do and are able to ask questions about what to do if you choose to visit another day.

This tour from Whitefish Outfitters takes you through East Glacier and Two Medicine. The East Side of the park is rugged and absolutely beautiful. You’ll start the tour by stopping at East Glacier National Park and then move to Two Medicine Lake.

You’ll spend around an hour here where you can explore the many trails surrounding the lake. After this stop, you’ll finish your tour at the Saint Mary Visitor Center. Use this time to take in your surroundings and learn about all the unique aspects of the east side of the park.

The tour lasts around 8 hours, and it costs around $500 per person. If you don’t want to do the driving and wish to learn all about the park, then this is the tour for you!

7. Horse Nature Yoga Class

Visiting new places encourages people to take advantage of experiences and opportunities that they may otherwise not get. The Horse Nature Yoga Class is an experience unique to the Kalispell area that includes interaction with horses and a one-hour yoga class.

You’ll do yoga in a converted greenhouse while staring at the horses and can release your stresses whilst taking in the beauty of these majestic animals. All the yoga classes are around an hour long with the opportunity to interact with the horses before and after the experience.

A group of friends meditating together in a summer yoga class outside in nature. 

It’s a great way to begin or end your trip exploring the greater Kalispell area.

8. Electric Dirt Bike Adventure Tour

If you’re more of a thrill seeker, then the Electric Dirt Bike Adventure Tour is perfect for you. It’s another one of those experiences you couldn’t find anywhere else. On this tour, you’ll spend around six hours exploring the 2.5 million acres of forest land outside of Glacier National Park on Electric Dirt Bikes.

This is one of the few national forests that are open to e-bikes and electric dirt bikes.

The bikes are able to reach speeds of up to 50 miles per hour depending on the type of terrain you’re riding and no motorcycle license is required. You’ll spend the day with your tour guide, Kyle, and he’ll show you all the recommended paths. It’s around $700 per person, but it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

You’ll determine a meet-up location with Kyle at the time of booking.

9. Ski at Whitefish Mountain Resort

If you get to visit Kalispell in the winter, you must ski or snowboard at Whitefish Mountain Resort. I took the opportunity to do this last time I visited, and I’ll never forget it. The resort is comparable to any other ski resort I’ve visited in the Western United States. There are terrain parks and dozens of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

The backcountry here is what sets it apart from many other ski resorts in the west. Once you pass that backcountry gate, you’re in for an experience you won’t find anywhere else. For an adult (18-64) a full-day lift ticket is $89. Senior (64-69) and teen (13-18) lift tickets are $76 for the day. Junior (7-12) tickets are $45 for the day and children 6 & under are free.

Skiing down the powdery slopes of Montana mountains.

The resort also has amazing accommodations if you’re looking for a place to stay.

10. Visit Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake near Kalispell is a 197 square mile lake that reaches depths of 370 feet. This is an absolutely massive lake that offers every kind of water activity you could think of. You can fish, boat, kayak, paddleboard, water ski, or wakeboard. It’s an absolutely beautiful lake that’s held in high regard by everyone who visits the area.

If you’ve had enough of exploring the park and want to be able to enjoy the cool, mountain water, then make sure you spend time at Flathead Lake. Don’t worry if you didn’t bring your boat or any water toys, Glacier Outdoor Rentals has everything you need for a day on Flathead Lake.

I make an effort to visit Flathead Lake whenever I’m in Kalispell. I love to wander the trails around the lake and breathe in the fresh mountain air. It’s one of the most remarkable lakes I have ever seen.

11. Explore Downtown/Main Street Kalispell

Sometimes you need the chance to spend some time in civilization. Downtown Kalispell has a unique historic downtown with all sorts of local shops and restaurants.

Throughout the summer, there are farmers’ markets, small festivals, and a variety of other family-friendly activities that can fill a morning or afternoon.

A traffic light on the main street of Kalispell, Montana.

Downtown Kalispell is the perfect place to visit after a long day of adventuring. I always like to stay near downtown Kalispell whenever I visit because I’m such a big fan of all the local eateries and the unique feel of the area.

12. Hike Glacier National Park

If you aren’t interested in a guided tour of the park, feel free to do a solo visit. My favorite areas are Two Medicine Lake and East Glacier. You can hike around the lake and do any offshoots of trails that head further into the backcountry.

Also, make sure to hike Avalanche Lake as well as Iceberg Lake. Both of these trails are popular, but they provide you with the true Glacier National Park experience. The wildlife, vegetation, and views are beyond rewarding.

Summer adventure through Glacier National Park.

Even though I’ve done the hikes several times, I still like to do at least one of them every time I return. They bring so much joy and I always feel revitalized afterward.

13. Northwest Montana History Museum/Hockaday Museum of Art

The Northwest Montana History Museum gives you a unique perspective on all things Northwest Montana. It’s one of those areas of the country that’s held in high regard but few know the true history. They have rotating exhibits about the Flathead Valley and the Native American populations, as well as the vibrant wildlife. It’s an affordable activity that’s great for a rainy morning or evening.

Adults will pay $9 to visit and children will pay $7 to enter. Located right in downtown Kalispell it’s a great place to stop in and visit.

14. Golf at Buffalo Hill Golf Club

As an avid golfer, I try to play a round in every new town I visit. The Buffalo Hill Golf Club is a public 27-hole golf course located in the heart of Kalispell. It was founded in 1918, so it has an amazing amount of history. Many famous people have played this course. What was once a buffalo pasture has been turned into a premier golf course in northern Montana.

I absolutely loved my time on this course. It is always in great condition and the service is phenomenal. Plus, at only $75 per round during the peak season, you don’t have to break the bank to play a great course.

A golfer at the end of his golf swing.

What’s even better is the restaurant attached to the course is one of the best in the area. I highly recommend you try the ribeye steak…

15. Woodland Water Park

Some days a water park is just what the family needs. The Woodland Water Park is the only outdoor water park in the city of Kalispell. There are two 3-story waterslides, a lazy river, and a six-lane lap pool for you to enjoy. If you have a few hours to kill and need to let the kids burn off some steam, make a visit to the water park – it’s well worth it!

Quick Travel Itineraries For Kalispell

Kalispell has many things to do within the town as well as within a couple-hour drive. Regardless of the amount of time you have, you’ll be struck with the beauty.

1 Day in Kalispell Itinerary

If you only have one day in Kalispell, I would recommend booking the full-day West Glacier tour. This is going to take up a majority of the day, but it will show you everything that’s great about Kalispell and the surrounding areas.

2-3 Days in Kalispell Itinerary

Day 1: Visit Glacier National Park. You can choose to do it all on your own or book a guided tour, but you must make a visit. It’s too beautiful and unique of an area to ignore. Hike, drive, and visit visitor centers. The West Glacier entrance is going to be the closest just 45 minutes away.

Day 2: Rent ATVs and explore the surrounding national forest land. Check out the backcountry and see what the less populated and visited areas have to offer. A full-day rental will give you a chance to explore a couple of hundred miles.

Day 3: Visit Flathead Lake to rent paddle boards or kayaks, and do some swimming and relaxing. Your body will appreciate the cool water after a full day on an ATV. Relax, fish and swim. You won’t find a better place to do it.

1 Week in Kalispell Itinerary

Day 1: On your first day in Kalispell, do the West Glacier and Polebridge Tour. Yes, you’re getting a tour of part of the park, but it will give you a chance to ask the guide about other areas to visit.

Day 2: Head back into the park and do some hiking – prioritize hiking Avalanche Lake or Iceberg Lake. Both of these trails are fairly moderate, and will absolutely blow your mind. You can stop and see more sights on your way back to Kalispell.

Day 3: Rent ATVs. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore hundreds of miles of trails right outside of town. Book a tour or go on your own. You’ll be provided with a map that gives you a chance to see things most others can’t.

Day 4: Do a whitewater rafting trip. Located in West Glacier, do a half-day float and then drive into the park, pop into the visitor center, or take a small hike. This is a great way to get a little bit more time in and near the park.

Day 5: Visit Flathead Lake. You’ll need a day off after your few days full of adventure. Relax in the cool water and spend time fishing or paddling around on a kayak. There are numerous places for you to rent anything you may want for a day on the water.

Day 6: Try the private rock climbing adventure out of Kalispell. You’ve spent a lot of time on your feet the past few days, so a rock climbing tour gives you a chance to get some adrenaline above the ground. These full-day tours are the real deal.

Day 7: Spend the last day exploring downtown Kalispell and all of the unique museums and shops that it has to offer. You’ll be tired from a week of adventuring and eager to see how the locals enjoy their life in the area. It’s truly a wonderful mountain town.

Where to Stay in Kalispell

These are a few of the best neighborhoods and areas to stay in and near Kalispell.

Summer cabin rentals in Northwestern Montana.

Neighborhood 1 – City Center – Best for Nightlife

Located in the charming heart of downtown Kalispell, this downtown cozy retreat would be a great place for couples and families alike to stay. It is within walking distance of restaurants, breweries, and local shops.

Even with its downtown location, it’s also just 45 minutes from Glacier National Park and 15 minutes from Flathead Lake.

You can’t go wrong with this mid-century modern, bright 3-bedroom home for your next trip to Kalispell.

Neighborhood 2 – Flathead Valley: on the Flathead River – Best for Families

If you are looking for a quiet and serene place with plenty of room indoors and outdoors for your entire family, look no further. This Flathead River Cottage will provide you with everything you need for a great stay near Kalispell, MT.

This 3-bedroom home is on an acre of land and is right around the corner from a public boat launch and recreational area on the river.

Consider this off-the-beaten-path cottage for your next stay in Kalispell.

Neighborhood 3 – Flathead Lake – Best for Outdoor Lovers

Located just 15 minutes south of the heart of Kalispell, this lakeshore getaway would be a perfect place for families and outdoor lovers to stay. This 3-bedroom property is located right on Flathead lake and has large dining room windows to give you panoramic views.

Each room has its own view of the lake and out the back door. Plus, you’re only 30 steps away from the warm waters of Flathead Lake. I can’t imagine a better place to come back to after a long day of exploring.

FAQs About Things To Do in Kalispell

Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about visiting Kalispell.

Is Kalispell worth visiting?

Yes – a resounding yes. Kalispell is so worth visiting as it is located in one of the most ideal locations; right outside Glacier National Park, near a large lake for boating and swimming, and a well-known river for fishing. You will not regret spending time in this charming, vibrant, and adventurous-friendly town.

What is Kalispell known for?

Kalispell is known for its close proximity to Glacier National Park. It’s also known for its hiking, fishing, skiing, and western culture and hospitality. You won’t find views and activities as you do in Kalispell in many other places.

Is Whitefish or Kalispell better?

Kalispell is the biggest town in Northwest Montana. Therefore, it has quite a few options for dining, entertainment, and lodging. However, both are within close proximity to Glacier National Park and both offer exciting outdoor adventures.

Does Kalispell have a downtown?

Kalispell has a charming downtown that’s full of local restaurants, shops, boutiques, and art galleries. The brightly colored buildings set against the mountain landscape help increase its charm. Downtown you’ll find classic Western stores, outdoor gear shops, yoga studios, and food and drink.

When is the best time to visit Kalispell?

You really can’t go wrong in choosing a month to visit Kalispell, but depending on what types of activities you are hoping to do, you might want to be strategic. Winter is obviously best for skiing and snowshoeing. July-September is the peak season as the snow will have melted and you’re guaranteed many hours of daylight.

What is the best restaurant in Kalispell?

The Desoto Grill might be up there among the best restaurants in Kalispell. Desoto Grill is known for its BBQ and beers in an upbeat environment. Located just a few blocks off of the main street, the Desoto Grill offers affordable yet hearty helpings of BBQ.

Conclusion

When it’s time to plan your trip to Montana, consider putting Kalispell at the top of your list of places to visit. While so many people spend time in southwest Montana, they miss out on the beauty that the northern part of the state has to offer.

The numerous unique tours and hundreds of miles of trails provide you with a chance to have an adventure of a lifetime.

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Heading to one of the most beautiful cities in Montana? Here are the 15 best things to do in Kalispell, Montana! See what you've been missing in historic Downtown Kalispell, Montana. Explore the beauty of a hike with a local near Glacier National Park, a Horse Nature Yoga Class, visiting Flathead Lake, golfing at Buffalo Hills Golf Club, and a lot more! | #vacation #wanderlust #montana
Visiting Kalispell? We have rounded up the absolute best top-rated things to do in Kalispell, Montana, including skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort and exploring the city's historic Main Street! This stunning mountain region is the gateway to Glacier National Park and is home to fun and unique outdoor adventures! | #kalispell #glaciernationalpark #travel
Are you traveling to one of Montana's top tourist destinations? Here are the top 15 things to do in Kalispell, whether you're passing through on your way to Glacier National Park or Flathead Lake or planning to stay in Kalispell for your Montana vacation! Learn how to spend your time in Kalispell in this comprehensive guide! | #flatheadlake #holiday #usatravel

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Danny is a Minnesota native living and teaching high school English in Phoenix, Arizona. His breaks and summers are dedicated to traveling to any new place he can – preferably overland. Finding it hard to stay away from the mountains, Danny has explored the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and the Beartooth Range in Montana. He enjoys finding a remote national forest campground or a random accommodation with mountain views. Danny has spent months of his life all over Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and South Dakota in search of pristine views and solidarity.

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