Tucked between the majestic Swan Range and Flathead Lake is the quaint village of Bigfork. It is a quintessential lake town, with its own harbor and beautiful Main Street. Strolling through town, you can shop in world-class galleries, many of which feature extremely fine Western art. Shops cover the gamut from funky housewares to Montana-made crafts to designer clothes. Restaurants also dot the town with a variety of fare ranging from chili cheese dogs to roasted salmon. When people around here think of “summer at the lake,” they invariably picture Bigfork.
DAY-VENTURING IN BIGFORK
ACTIVITIES YOU’LL LOVE
Catch a Way Off Broadway Show — Celebrating its 56th season of live professional theatre in 2015, the Bigfork Playhouse brings talent from across the U.S. Shows range from the classics such as My Fair Lady and Guys & Dolls to newer plays such as Shout.
Wayfarers State Park — This is the perfect place to swim, launch a rental boat, have a picnic or just hang out and watch the sun dip into the western horizon.
Watching Kayak Races — Bigfork sits at the mouth of the Swan River, and that last mile is quite a mile of river. Hence the name Wild Mile. Each year at the annual Whitewater Festival you can watch real pros run attack it (or vice-versa).
Christmas Parade — Bigfork puts on an annual holiday celebration that belies its size with a parade, tree lighting and festivities. It’s almost like strolling through one of those snow globes.
Swan River Nature Trail — This two-mile trail begins in Bigfork Village and winds up the Swan River. Popular for all ages and abilities as well as bicycles, the nature trail offers views of white water rushing over rocks as well as calm water dotted with geese and an occasional swan.
Eagle Bend Golf Club — 27 holes in a spectacular setting with views of Flathead Lake and the Swan Mountains. Lunch at the restaurant and stroll the marina to view the boats heading out to the lake.
Eating Huckleberry Fudge — The Swan range is full of wild huckleberry bushes and there’s no higher use of those local wonders than the huckleberry fudge at Eva Gates or Vicki’s Montana Mountain Classics. Try some and believe.
Paddles Up! – Teams from around the US and Canada gather in Bigfork every September to compete in the Montana Dragon Boat Festival. It’s all about synergy as teams of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steerer propel their 46 ft. Hong Kong style boats across the water. Enjoy live music, children’s activities and a Made-in-Montana vendor fair. Food and beverage vendors will be onsite.
SEASONS YOU’LL ENJOY
Summer is the high season, with July and August being the best for swimming and other watersports with temperatures in the low to mid 80s. Late July is typically the peak for the cherry harvest, but it does vary from year to year. Fall is a great time for sailing and boating and it generally stays warm through about mid-October. The holiday season is also a great time to visit Bigfork to shop and see the lights.
ROUTE YOU’LL TAKE
From Kalispell drive south on Highway 93 then east on Highway 82 toward the Swan Mountains. Drive time is about 20 minutes.