Kalispell City in Flathead County is an underrated Montana destination surrounded by the best that nature has to offer. Rivers, lakes, hiking trails, mountains and parks in Kalispell offer outdoor enthusiasts a wide range of recreational activities.
This charming and quite underrated city has museums, galleries, shops, food and wine bars that do justice to the excesses of modernity. Kalispell’s diverse attractions have led to it being called the soul of Montana’s Flathead Valley. Here are 10 things to do in Kalispell.
10/10 Go ride a horse
Backcountry Montana is a lush paradise of mountains and nature trails that visitors can spend a leisurely day exploring on horseback. Here, service providers offer guided horseback riding tours for Kalispell visitors.
Artemis Acres Guest Ranch at the foothills of the Salish Mountain Range and Bar W Guest Ranch at Spencer Mountain Base offer half or full day horseback rides around Kalispell. They also have accommodation and catering options for visitors on long stays or vacations.
9/10 Try water sports
In the summer, Flathead Lake is the ideal spot for water sports and activities when visiting Kalispell. Visitors can swim, ski, sail, canoe, paddle board, motor boat, kayak, or fish at this lake.
There are also several forks at Flathead where visitors can raft in mild and rough whitewater.
At Kalispell, visitors can purchase fly fishing gear from the True Water Fly Shop. Mike Howe also offers guided fishing trips to other lakes near Kalispell.
8/10 Cycle on wilderness trails
Biking is one of the best ways to see Montana’s great beauty, and Kalispell has six trails that offer different challenges for cyclists. These are:
Foys to Blacktail Trails:
Has a 3000ft descent and 15 miles of stacked loop trails.
Features 26 miles of stacked loop trails, scenic views, single track butterfly trails and patrolled logging roads. This trail is an ideal challenge for off-road drivers.
Has challenging rock obstacles, climbs, steep switchbacks and a descent with great views of Flathead Lake.
East Side Hwy (US Hwy 35), Flathead Lake:
Offers scenic views of the forested foothills of Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains.
Rails to Trails:
Has over 10 miles
paved and offers relatively flat rides suitable for family outings.
Going to the Sun Road:
This is paved and offers great and scenic views of the Montana countryside and a challenging 3500 foot elevation from Lake McDonald to Logan Pass.
7/10 Go snowmobiling
Snowmobiling season in Kalispell starts from early December to mid-April depending on snow conditions and there are great spots in the Flathead Valley. Snowmobiling can be combined with wildlife viewing, snow games, mountaineering, sightseeing tours and camping.
There are over 200 miles in and around Kalispell and there are service providers who will take visitors on snowmobile tours and provide appropriate equipment. These are the Swan Mountain Outfitters, Northwest Montana Adventures and Action Rentals in Montana.
6/10 Try your luck at golf
There are great golf courses in the Kalispell area which have named Flathead Valley one of Golf Digest’s top 50 golf destinations. Some golf courses visitors can tee off in Kalispell are:
5/10 Shop at local stores
Kalispell City is home to shops and boutiques selling locally made Montana products and goods from major department stores. Shopping sprees can range from downtown to Main Street, where local shops offer jewelry, cowboy boots, art, personal care products, and Western-inspired gear.
Because Montana has no sales tax, visitors pay the displayed price and save money.
4/10 wine and dinner
Kalispell has a variety of wine and dining venues to suit all visitors’ tastes and budgets. Bakeries, breweries, food vendors, farm-to-table restaurants serve both common and unique Montana fare here.
At Hops Downtown Grill and Mercantile Steak, visitors can enjoy elk, yak, bison burgers, as well as rib eye and Wagyu zabuton (Denver steak).
There are also craft breweries with over 40 flavors of beer and lager made with Montana malt, hops, blueberries and Flathead cherries. Distilleries and wineries here also serve locally made gin, whiskey, rum and wine.
3/10 Visit museums and galleries
Museum and gallery tours help visitors and art lovers understand Kalispell’s culture and history before modernization. These are:
Konrad Villa Museum:
This 13,000-square-foot mansion archives the life of Kalispell’s founder, Charles E. Conrad, in the 19th century.
Northwest Montana Historical Museum:
This archives the early history of the Flathead Valley and early industries through exhibits on display here, as well as the history of Native American and early European settlers.
Hockaday Art Museum:
Archives the cultural history of Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park and is housed in a 1901 building.
Montana Modern Art:
This gallery features works by contemporary artists associated with Flathead Valley.
On display are works by contemporary artists and craftspeople such as fine art, clothing, jewelry, furniture, photographs, soaps, jams and other products, all made on site to ensure visitors leave with a piece of Montana.
2/10 Discover the nightlife
Flathead Valley has a vibrant nightlife and venues where guests are entertained with music, games, open mics and yoga while sipping a variety of wines, whiskeys or craft beers.
These places also have great foods to satisfy hunger amid the fun:
Crushing the craft drinks scene
MontaVino Winery & Tasting Room
Kalispell Eagles Lounge
Blue Moon (Columbia Falls)
1/10 Tour the Flathead Indian Reservation
The best time to tour the Flathead Indian Reservation is during the summer, especially the months of July and August when Native Americans hold events like powwows to celebrate their culture. Native American tours are a great way to learn about the history of people and places.
This also 1.3 million hectare reserve has landscapes such as Flathead Lake, the Jocko Valley and the National Bison Range. Some places of interest to visit when visiting this reserve are:
Powwow: Visitors meet the Kootenai tribe and dance, play and dine on their traditional food.
Garden of a Thousand Buddhas
Bird Watching at Ninepipes
Game viewing in the National Bison Range
Kerr Dam at the outflow
Museum of the Wonder of America
Cultural Center of the Three Chiefs
Native American Speaks program, Glacier National Park
Cultural Center of the Three Chiefs
There are so many things to do in Montana, and a stop in Kalispell is just the start!