AUTUMN IN NORTHWEST MONTANA IS ONE OF THE BEST SEASONS TO GET ON THE TRAIL AND ON THE WATER.
As of September 17th the entire length of Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is open for private vehicle access. For now, all vehicles can drive the full length of the Road and access Logan Pass from the east or west sides. No stopping is allowed on the GTTS Road from just above Lake McDonald Lodge to just below Avalanche but the Avalanche Trail and Trail of the Cedars are both open! Road conditions are subject to change to due weather and other factors. Current road conditions available at: https://home.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm
Glacier National Park encompasses more than 1,500 square miles of stunning scenery. The Howe Ridge fire is currently burning on the west side of the park, located on the west side of Lake McDonald. At approximately 14,000 acres the fire is burning in less than 1% of Glacier’s 1 million acres so there is still plenty of the park to enjoy! In fact, the area which is temporarily closed for public safety and firefighter access is less than 5% of the park’s overall acres. The Boundary fire, located in the far northeastern corner of Glacier is burning at approximately 2,900 acres.
Glacier National Park is OPEN including West Glacier, Apgar, Avalanche area, St. Mary, Many Glacier, Two Medicine and the North Fork areas. Glacier National Park remains under Stage 2 Fire Restrictions meaning no campfires permitted.
While smoke may be visible in Glacier National Park, the amount of smoke and which areas are experiencing impacted air quality change daily. We recommend that you check the park’s web cams when planning your trip: http://www.nps.gov/glac/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. The city of Kalispell — home base for your Glacier National Park adventure — is not affected by fire but the smoke from regional fires can make its way into the valley so it is recommended that you reference the Montana air quality index for current air quality if you have concerns: http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/.
There are countless ways to experience Glacier National Park, Kalispell, Flathead Lake, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and many other natural and cultural attractions that remain unaffected and welcoming to visitors. Here are a few suggestions:
A scenic drive around Flathead Lake including a stop at one of the Montana State Parks that dot the shoreline as well as various locally-owned restaurants, breweries and distilleries. Or head north of Kalispell on Highway 2 to enjoy the scenery tracing the stunning southern border of the park on the way to East Glacier.
Downtown Kalispell displays exceptional historic architecture that features exciting new businesses. Walking on Main Street Kalispell you’ll find a diverse mix of locally owned shops, eateries, and museums that offer something for all ages, as well as breweries and a distillery. http://www.discoverkalispell.com/communities-attractions/kalispell/
Go Rafting on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River with several qualified guiding businesses located in the West Glacier area.
Glacier Park Boat Company offers boat tours on St. Mary Lake, Many Glacier and Two Medicine: http://glacierparkboats.com/
Foy’s to Blacktail is a trail system arrayed along a forested drainage just a few minutes southwest of Kalispell. These trails can easily be tackled by a moderately skilled mountain biker in a day; and there’s more than enough beauty to fill a day of hiking. Download a current trail map: http://www.FoysToBlacktailTrails.org.
Lone Pine State Park located minutes outside of downtown Kalispell has views of the valley, Glacier and Flathead Lake from easy trails. The visitor center offers fascinating information about local ecology and wildlife. Bring a picnic and your binoculars! http://stateparks.mt.gov/lone-pine/
Whitefish Mountain Resort, one of the region’s most popular ski areas is also a summer activity mecca, with zip lines, treetop trails, mountain biking, hiking and more. Skiwhitefish.com
Rails to Trails encompasses more than 10 miles of paved trails around Kalispell that offer relatively flat hikes or bike rides that are great for a family outing. http://www.railstotrailsofnwmt.com/
View or download the Kalispell Travel Guide
The Kalispell Visitor Information Center is open for questions and offers free maps, activity, lodging and dining information. Stop by and talk to one of our travel counselors at 15 Depot Park, Kalispell. The VIC is open Mon-Fri 8am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 10am-3pm. Or call 406-758-2811 or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stage 2 fire restrictions have been lifted for Flathead County but please remember that while fire conditions have improved the fire danger is still very high so use caution with any recreational fire. (Stage 2 restrictions are still in place within Glacier National Park)
Information on wildfire activity:
Glacier National Park website https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/index.htm
Glacier National Park on Twitter @GlacierNPS
Glacier National Park on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GlacierNPS
Glacier Country Regional Tourism http://glaciermt.com
Montana Fire Information for Travelers http://www.marketmt.com/Resources/FireInformation
Updated map and information on the Howe Ridge Fire is available at InciWeb https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/6135/0