Category Archives: Lodging

Bozeman Hotels

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If you want to be near restaurants, bars, and great shopping, stay at a hotel in downtown Bozeman. Three extra nice hotels get you near the hub of all the good stuff up and down Main Street in Bozeman: Element by Westin Bozeman, The Lark, and Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman. No car needed. You can walk and forget about trying to find parking. Besides if you enjoy spirts, then walking is a good way to get around, unless you have another person to drive.

•Element by Westin Bozeman
Address: 25 E. Mendenhall, Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 582-4972

•The Lark
Address: 122 West Main St., Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (866) 464-1000

•Kimpton Armory Hotel Bozeman
Address: 24 W. Mendenhall St., Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 551-7700

These hotels are on the pricey side. But with locations on or just one block off Main Street, paying more is worth it. Room rates for one night, November 10-11, 2020, are $185 at the Lark, $217 at the Element, and $183 at the Kimpton on Expedia (taxes and fees included).

Room rates at Bozeman hotels vary from season to season. Expect to pay a lot more in the summer, for example.

Travel tip

There are two taxes paid by users of overnight lodging facilities in Montana: a 4% Lodging Facility Use Tax and a 4% Lodging Sales Tax for a combined 8% tax. Both of these taxes are collected by the facility from the user and remitted to the Montana State Department of Revenue. In addition, Bozeman’s Tourism Business Improvement District collects an additional $2 per occupied room per night.

For a room with a base price of $169 per night, taxes plus fees add about 9% to the total cost of a room in Bozeman.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Many Glacier Hotel

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If you want to experience travel in Glacier National Park as it was more than 100 years ago, book a reservation at Many Glacier Hotel.

Many Glacier Hotel
Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park. photo courtesy National Park Service.

 

Lobby Many Glacier Hotel
Grand lobby in Many Glacier Hotel. Photo courtesy Glacier National Park Lodges.

Many Glacier Hotel was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1914-15. Today the hotel still stands and retains its historic charm and grandeur. A true architectural gem. The hotel is a National Historic Landmark.

Many Glacier Hotel historic
Early days of Many Glacier Hotel. Photo by Kiser Photo Co., 1920, from Library of Congress collection.

Many Glacier Hotel is located deep in the wilderness on the east shore of beautiful Swiftcurrent Lake. Guests at the hotel are surrounded by nature. Prominent glacier-carved mountain peaks include Grinnell Point, Altyn, Allen, Wynn, Henkel, and Wilber. A mature forest consisting of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, and quaking aspen adds amazing beauty to the landscape. It’s hard to imagine a more scenic and spectacular setting in America.

The hotel has 205 guest rooms, plus two suites and seven family rooms. The atmosphere is rustic, but basic amenities of modern travel are here to satisfy needs of guests. True to the hotel’s historic character, no TVs or noise from modern air conditioning ruin your experience. Old-world charm here at its best.

Many Glacier Hotel interior
Interior area of Many Glacier Hotel. Photo courtesy Glacier National Park Lodges.

In addition to the rooms, the hotel features Swiss lounge; Heidi’s Snack Shop; a gift shop; and the Ptarmigan Dining Room. The dining room has breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.

At breakfast, the Ptarmigan Dining Room serves buffet-style or guests can order entrees such as Ptarmigan Parfait, Greek Yogurt, Muesli, Fresh Berries, and Cacao nibs, for $8.95. A more traditional breakfast, 49er flapjacks with powdered sugar, Huckleberry Jam, and Syrup, goes for $7.95.

Dining room Many Glacier Hotel
Ptarmigan Dining Room, Many Glacier Hotel. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

For dinner, a favorite is Sautéed Rainbow Trout, Lemon, Capers, Brown Butter, Parsley, Brown & Wild Rice Blend, for $29.90. Braised Bison Short Ribs Dark Beer, Roast Garlic Mashed Potatoes, $32.50.

All yummy and supreme for sure and served in the most splendid ambiance that hospitality can offer. Dining in the Ptarmigan Dining Room is first-come-first-served.

Many Glacier Road (Route 3) is the only road to Many Glacier Hotel. This road starts from near the small village of Babb, Montana on the east side of Glacier National Park. Drive west on Many Glacier Road (Route 3) to reach the hotel. The distance is about 12 miles from the junction of U.S. Highway 89 and Many Glacier Road (Route 3).

Many Glacier Hotel is some distance away from Going-to-the-Sun Road and busier parts of Glacier National Park. Still, many people visit this area for its outdoor recreational opportunities, especially hiking and nature viewing. A few people stay at Swiftcurrent Motor Inn & Cabins and Many Glacier Campground, not far from Many Glacier Hotel. This area is often called Many Glacier Valley.

If they choose, guests at Many Glacier Hotel can go hiking on Swift Current Nature Trail which borders Swiftcurrent Lake. This trail is a 2.3 mile loop, partly wheelchair accessible, with a trailhead near Many Glacier Hotel.

Travel tip: The area around the hotel has abundant wildlife such as mountain goats, black bears, grizzly bears, osprey, and songbirds. In the outdoors, guests should take precautions when near wildlife and follow the regulations/rules set by Park officials. Wildlife is wild and unpredictable and can be dangerous.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Luxury Ranches and Resorts

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Are you ready for a luxury vacation? If so, four high-end guest ranches and resorts in the mountains of southwest Montana are ready to welcome you.

• Triple Creek Ranch in the Bitterroot Valley, near Darby, Montana, offers much fun. TrippleCreekRanch.com (406) 821-4600
• The Resort at Paws Up near Greenough, Montana, 35 minutes northeast of Missoula, rivals the best. PawsUp.com (877) 580-6343
• The Sage Lodge a few miles south of Livingston, Montana is sparkling new. SageLodge.com (855) 400-0505.
• The Silver Bow Club near Butte offers has abundant activities for guests in a beautiful setting. Silverbowclub.com (406) 491-2157

These Luxury vacation destinations offer extra nice lodging, great cuisine, and activities galore, all in beautiful surroundings. Best of all, highly trained staff are eager to help and guide you at every turn. Prices at luxury guest ranches and resorts are high; still, for those rolling in the dough, the experience is well worth the cost.

Triple Creek Ranch offers wellness treatment, stocked trout ponds, fitness center, swimming pool, tennis court, horseback riding, hiking trails, and more. A wine cellar will satisfy the most discerning oenophile. If that’s not enough, off-ranch activities (for an extra fee) such as guided fly-fishing, trap shooting, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, and cattle driving, and golfing, can be arranged.

The Resort at Paws Up offers mountain biking, cross-country skiing, archery, tennis, nature hikes, fitness center, and more. If you like to learn new things, this is the place to go. You can participate in workshops on photography, wildlife painting, and wilderness skills. Most interesting is Paw’s Up cookbook live culinary series. This activity features talented chefs who share recipes, cooking skills, and what inspires their cookbooks. Chefs at two on-property restaurants prepare exceptional cuisine. For breakfast, be sure to savor the taste of huckleberry pancakes. Plenty of entertainment is another reason why guests come here. This ranch caters to families and kids.

The Sage Lodge has exceptional guest rooms and suites. So nice. A spa is onsite for those who like to be pampered. Guests dine in The Grill at Sage Lodge or in The Fireside Room. On the menu Bison Bolognese, pappardelle, dark roasted hazelnuts, and pecorino, $31. Activities at Sage Lodge include fly-fishing, horseback riding, mountain biking, trail hiking, snowshoeing, and more. The Sage Lodge is in a convenient location near Livingston and Bozeman. Yellowstone National Park is a few miles to the south.

Silver Bow Club is an 1,800-acre paradise, with frontage on the legendary Big Hole River in southwest Montana. Guests can choose to stay in suites, lodge rooms, or log cabins. Activities include fly-fishing, pheasant hunting, horseback riding, trap shooting, ATV riding, and duck hunting. The Silver Bow Club is a classic, with definite western-style flavor and ambience.

Before you go, learn more about these wonderful destinations. Choose the one that best suits your tastes and interests. A lot to consider, cuisine, lodging, activities, and location. No two of these luxury destinations are alike. Still all are excellent.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Lake McDonald Lodge

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Do you want to enjoy travel lodging in the northern Rockies as it was more than 100 years back in time? You can at Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park. The Lodge was very upscale when it opened in 1914, a few years after Glacier National Park was created in 1910. In the present day, Lake McDonald Lodge still offers visitors a unique and special lodging experience.

Lake McDonald Lodge
Lake McDonald Lodge, Glacier National Park. Photo courtesy Glacier National Park Lodges.

Lake McDonald Lodge is a complete package: Guests experience a page from history in a beautiful wilderness setting, while enjoying the normal amenities of travel. The Lodge faces Lake McDonald, a story-book glacial lake. Mountains are a prominent part of the landscape near the Lodge. The Lodge, lake, and surrounding alpine environment are nothing short of spectacular.

The Lodge was designed in Swiss-style architecture common to structures found in the Alps of Europe. The Lodge features a huge lobby which rises three stories, nearly to the top of the building. A massive stone fireplace is a focal point in the lobby. Adding to the Lodge’s historical appeal, many furnishings from when the Lodge was first built remain for visitors to awe over.

Lobby Lake McDonald Lodge
Lobby in Lake McDonald Lodge. Photo courtesy Glacier National park Lodges.

Lake McDonald Lodge has 82 rooms for guests, many in the main Lodge, a few in nearby cabins and two other buildings, Cobb House and Snyder Hall. Rooms inside the main lodge have a rustic vibe even while retaining many comforts for guests to enjoy.

The Lodge offers three dining options: Jammer Joe’s Grill and Pizzeria; Lucke’s Lounge; and Russell’s Fireside Dining Room. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on premises. And visitors can order beer, wines, and cocktails. An Elk Burger, with grilled mushrooms, swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion, goes for $12.95. Huckleberry ice cream is a special delight on the menu.

The Lodge has a General Store to pick up a few supplies. In the Lodge’s Gift Store, visitors can buy niffy gifts, some crafted by Montana artisans, and cool souvenirs.

Lake McDonald Lodge is owned by the United States federal government. The Lodge is, at present, assigned to Glacier National Park Lodges to operate as part of a concessions contract.

Lake McDonald Lodge is located on Going-to-the-Sun Road about 10 miles inside the west entrance of Glacier National Park, not far from the small village of West Glacier, Montana. A classic for sure, Lake McDonald Lodge!

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Glacier National Park

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What is the weather like in Glacier National Park? How crowded is the park? And when do visitors arrive? Savvy visitors usually  weigh all three factors when timing their visit to Glacier. Data in the charts below is useful for planning a trip to Glacier.

Glacier park weather
Weather at West Glacier, Montana. Chart courtesy NPS.

Data in this chart is for West Glacier, Montana, at 3,200 feet in elevation. This weather station is at the west entrance to Glacier National Park. At Logan Pass, along Going-to-the-Sun Road, inside the park, the elevation is 6,647 feet. Expect much cooler temperatures at Logan Pass, as temperatures decrease with increasing elevation.

During July and August, the weather is very pleasant with comfortable, warm, daytime highs and cool nights. As can be expected for northerly latitudes, average daytime highs are still nice in June and September. In May and October, however, it’s time to wear cold weather clothing.

With average low temperatures in the 40s or less in every month, extra clothing is always a necessity.

Most visitors to the park arrive from May through September.  The peak months are July and August, with somewhat fewer visitors in June and September. Earlier and later in the season, the number of visitors is low. The park’s opening and closing, plus the weather are big factors in the number of visitors going to the park. And, of course, mid-summer is when many Americans and others hit the trail.

During the peak tourist season, Glacier National Park gets very crowded. Only one road, Going-to-the-Sun Road, runs through the Park. In a word, think traffic. It’s not uncommon for NPS to report that Apgar parking lot near Lake McDonald is full early in the day. NPS on its Website says, “Expect crowding and congestion in many areas of the park. Plan accordingly.”

Visitors Glacier NP
Visitors Glacier National Park 2019. Chart courtesy NPS.

Data in the chart show visitors to Glacier National Park in 2019. The table provides statistics for categories of use and by month. Annual totals for each category of use:

  • Recreation visitors (3,049,839)
  • Non-recreation visitors (13,103)
  • Concession lodging (119,960)
  • Tent campers (118,181)
  • RV campers (126,099)
  • Concession camping (0)
  • Backcountry campers (34,759)
  • Misc. campers (926)
  • Total overnight stays (399,924)

Many visitors choose to stays in tents or RVs. This arrangement puts visitors close to nature. The National Park Service provides wonderful campgrounds to accommodate. Tents and RVs are  expected as regular lodging is limited inside the park. And the lodging, such as Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge, may be too expensive for some family budgets.

Some Facts About Glacier (source: NPS)

  • number of glaciers: 26
  • number of lakes: 762
  • number of species of mammals: 71
  • number of species of birds: 276
  • number of mountains: 175
  • number of class A campgrounds: 8; 943 sites
  • number of class B campgrounds: 5; 61 sites
  • number of backcountry campgrounds: 65; 208 sites
  • number of trails: 151; total length, 745.6 miles

As for size of Glacier National Park, measured on Google Earth,  east-west distance is about 35 miles; from north to south, distance is about 60 miles.

Travel Tip:

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Many Glacier Campground

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Many Glacier Campground is a favorite of many folks who like to stay close to nature in Glacier National Park. The setting is unrivaled in nature with high mountain peaks in view from inside the campground. Swiftcurrent Creek and Lake are nearby.

Many Glacier Campground is located on the east side of the park, along Many Glacier Road which runs east to west inside the park and is a continuation of Glacier Route 3 from near the tiny village of Babb, Montana. Elevation at the campground is about 4,500 feet, so after sunset it can get cool outside.

Many Glacier Campground
Map of area in vicinity of Many Glacier Campground. Map courtesy National Park Service.

The area around the campground is heavily forested. Large lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, quaking aspen, and other vegetation blanket the landscape. Wildlife including bear, bighorn sheep, and moose live in the mountains near the campground.

Space is available for tents and RVs: 109 sites. The campground has potable water, restroom facilities, and bear proof food lockers. Each campsite has a picnic table.

This campground is a good stop for hikers, since Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg-Ptarmigan, Swiftcurrent Pass, and Cracker Lake Trailheads are nearby. Swiftcurrent Nature Trail in this area is an outdoorsy delight.

Many Glacier Trails
Trailheads near Many Glacier Campground. The Many Glacier Campground is near the Swiftcurrent Motor Inn. Map courtesy National Park Service.

For services, Swiftcurrent Motor Inn is a short distance from the campground. The Inn has a restaurant, some groceries and shower facilities (for a fee). More services are available in the town of Babb, about 12 miles east of the campground, outside the east entrance to the park. Babb has general store, gas station, general store, restaurants, and a U.S. Post Office.

Check for details about the Many Glacier Campground on the park’s Website. Notice: NPS says Many Glacier Campground is closed for the 2020 season.

Campgrounds in Glacier National Park have regulations on length of stay and the types of RVs allowed. Other rules for using the park’s campgrounds must be followed, as well.

In addition to Many Glacier Campground, other popular campgrounds in Glacier are at Apgar (west side); Avalanche (west of Continental Divide); and St. Mary’s (east side). All three campgrounds are along Going-to-the-Sun Road inside the park.

Most campgrounds in the park are first-come, first-served, signed up for at entrances to the park. For some campgrounds, however, advanced reservations may be allowed. Check the park’s Website.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Big Timber Cabin Rentals

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Cabins come in many vintages, so it is a good idea to do some research before you go. Location and setting may be the most important.

The three cabins for rent by Montana Cabin Rentals are about 20 miles northwest of Big Timber, in south-central Montana. The town of Big Timber is about mid-way between Billings and Bozeman on Interstate Highway IH-90. Starting from Billings or Bozeman it takes is a little over one hour to drive to the cabins.

The cabins are built in Big Timber Canyon, a beautiful valley that runs in a westerly direction up into the Crazy Mountains. Big Timber Creek runs down the valley and passes near the cabins. Renters have access to 1.5 miles of stream-side frontage along Big Timber Creek. A very scenic setting for sure. Best of all the cabins have a remote feel, away from civilization yet are very accessible.

Copyrighted photo Crazy Mountains
View of spectacular Crazy Mountains looking west from Big Timber. Photo courtesy Crazy Mountain Museum, Big Timber, Mont.

These cabins come with extra nice amenities. Grizzly Cabin has two bedrooms. Guests enjoy a hot tub, sauna, HDTV, fireplace, washer/dryer, plus stainless appliances. A RV hookup is available too. From $189 per night.

Fisher Cabin, with two bedrooms, has a rustic vibe, the cabin being built from logs, and it has log furniture. The cabin has a loft, fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, a hot tub, WIFI, and more. From $169 per night.

Creekside Cabin has a large master bedroom. The living room in this cabin is arranged in such a way so it can be used as a second bedroom. This cabin has a fully equipped kitchen, washer/dryer, a hot tub, and WIFI. From $169 per night.

Fisher and Creekside Cabins are separated from one another by mature vegetation, so privacy is not an issue.

By any standard, all three cabins come close to luxury. Guests enjoy amenities of modern life all the while staying in a remote, quiet, beautiful mountainous setting, with the best of nature out the front door.

A huge plus, dining out is only a few minutes away at The Grand Hotel in Big Timber. The Grand serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner is from 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., daily. Enjoy great food in two nice dining areas in The Grand Hotel. For upscale dining, guests at the cabins can drive to Livingston, a short 35 miles west of Big Timber, and dine at the 2nd Street Bistro in the Murray Hotel.

The cabins are available for rent year-round. There are many great cabins for rent in Montana. These three cabins rank among the best. (406) 599-6772.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Hotels

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Montana has many hotels and other types of lodging to serve visitors, whether on  vacation or traveling for business.

A few of the best:

  • Billings: Hilltop Inn by Riversage (406) 252-5000
  • Fort Benton: Grand Union Hotel (a historic Montana hotel est. 1892) (406) 622-1882
  • Helena: DoubleTree by Hilton Helena Downtown (406) 433-2200
  • Kalispell: Historic Grand Hotel (406) 755-8100
  • Red Lodge: Pollard Hotel (406) 446-0001
  • Three Forks – a town near Bozeman: Sacajawea Hotel (406) 285-6515
  • Livingston: Sage Lodge, Pray, near Livingston (855) 400-0505
  • Missoula: Residence Inn by Marriott Missoula (406) 542-6252
  • Great Falls: Hotel Arvon (406) 952-1101
  • Bozeman: RSVP Hotel (406) 404-7999
  • Lewistown: Yogo Inn (406) 535-8721
  • Cody, Wyoming: Chamberlin Inn (888) 587-0202

Enjoy!

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Livingston

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Montana’s small towns are not of the cookie-cutter variety so often found in other states. Why is this? Simply put, most small towns in Montana have retained their heritage and historical roots. Urbanization and rapid population growth have not arrived, at least not yet.

Livingston (pop. 7,784) fits this picture very nicely. Someone who left Livingston for greener pastures 50 years ago and came back to visit in 2020 would feel right at home. A good thing in a fast-paced world for sure.

It is worth contrasting Livingston with Bozeman, a city a few miles to the west on IH 90. So much about Bozeman is fast paced, while Livingston is more about take your time and enjoy life.

In history, Livingston was a hub for the railroads as they pushed rails to the West Coast. Due to industrial activity associated with the railroads, the city flourished. The city was also a destination city for many who wanted to experience the wonders of Yellowstone. Not much has changed, but the railroad industry has moved on.

Many beautiful buildings were built in the downtown area in the early 1900s, and they remain today, used for commerce and cultural activities. Go to the Murray Hotel for starters. The Murray was built in 1904. The building and its amenities retain a historical flavor, from the time when first built. The public library in Livingston is a Carnegie Library. Check it out.

hotel Livingston MT
Photo in this ad courtesy Murray Hotel.

Livingston is located in the upper Yellowstone Valley. Yellowstone National Park is 56 miles south of Livingston on U.S. Highway 89. The wild and pristine Yellowstone River flows near the city. The Absaroka Mountains tower over Main Street looking to the south of the downtown. A picture postcard setting for sure.

Livingstone is proud of its rich history. The artifacts and exhibits housed in the Yellowstone Gateway Museum showcase and tell the story of the city’s rich industrial, ranching, and cultural beginnings. Learn about Native Americans, Lewis & Clark, and the pioneers. This museum is a genuine treasure.

Livingston is not overrun by chain hotels and restaurants. In Livingston, visitors experience homegrown businesses, lodging, art galleries and small shops such as the Elk River Books. Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop is a first stop for many, even if wading in the trout-filled Yellowstone near town is not of interest.

For upscale dining, go to Second Street Bistro in the Murray Hotel. Beef, chicken, lamb, and produce are locally sourced, says the manager of the restaurant. On the menu: Bistro sirloin and fries pan-seared Yellowstone grasslands flat-iron, herbed french fries, red wine demi pan sauce, whole grain dijon mustard. $28. Gil’s Goods is another eatery adjoining the Murray. Great breakfasts, pizzas, and sandwiches served at Gil’s.

Livingston ranks high among the many small towns in Montana. Enjoy!

Read more about the Yellowstone region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Cabin Rental

RED LODGE POST

Montana lodging does not have to be expensive, that is, if you are willing to go off the grid. For the grand sum of $35 per night,  Crandall Creek Cabin is available. This is a U.S. Forest Service property in western Montana. The cabin has a 5-night stay limit maximum. Sleeps up to six people.

cabin MT
Crandall Creek Cabin, MT. Photo courtesy Recreation.gov

This rustic cabin is about 24 miles northeast of Wilsall in the Custer Gallatin National Forest. The area around the cabin is in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains. Access is by a dirt road and a high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must to get here.

Need to know (info from U.S. Forest Service): no power in cabin, no garbage service, no water in cabin, cell phone coverage limited or not available, risk of hantavirus at remote cabins.

Call the Yellowstone Ranger District Livingston Office at (406) 222-1892, during weekday business hours (MST) for more information about the cabin. This cabin is not too far from Livingston (about 52 Miles), so may be a good option for some travelers. Reservations handled by Recreation.gov.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Kalispell

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The city of Kalispell (pop. 23,938) and the region around the city are a major tourist destination in northwest Montana. Glacier National Park, a few miles to the east of Kalispell, draws more than 3,000,000 visitors annually. Many arrive during peak season, June thru September.

It is not only Glacier Park that attracts. Vast wilderness areas near Kalispell offer limitless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Fishing, hiking, and boating to name a few. Outdoor recreation is king in the area around Kalispell.

Kalispell mountains
City of kalispell, MT. Photo courtesy Discover Kalispell.

Many tourists arrive in Kalispell at Glacier International Airport. Many others arrive by auto, train, or tour bus. No interstate highways reach Kalispell. Two main U.S. highways connect Kalispell with the rest of Civilization. U.S. Highway 93 runs north-south from the Canadian border to Missoula and U.S. Highway 2 runs east-west connecting Kalispell with Spokane to the west and Havre and other cities to the east.

Many hotels and other types of lodging are available in Kalispell and the surrounding towns and rural areas. Due to the influx of so many visitors, an amazing variety of places to stay can be found here. Cabins, resorts, bed & breakfasts, lodges, and more. As for traditional lodging, the historic Kalispell Grand Hotel may be a better choice than most of the chain hotels in town. The Kalispell Grand offers a continental breakfast, massage studio, and art gallery to make your stay more enjoyable. (406) 755-8100.

Flathead Lake is a few miles south of Kalispell. Fishing and boating on Flathead Lake are a common activity. Five State Parks offer facilities for outdoor activities near the shores of Flathead Lake. Wayfarers/Flathead Lake, close to the village of Bigfork, draws many visitors: Picnicking, fishing, camping, boating, and swimming are a few of the activities allowed at this state park.

A couple of nice attractions are found in the city of Kalispell. The Conrad Mansion Museum, built in 1895, is a window into early pioneer days of Kalispell. Mr. Conrad, a rich businessman, built the house with income from hauling freight and other business activities. The museum features many exhibits and well-manicured gardens enhance beauty of the grounds.

For history buffs, the Northwest Montana History Museum is a must see. The museum showcases the history of early frontier days. A neat glimpse of the old central school in Kalispell is a special attraction in the museum. Artifacts and displays of Native American culture are also interesting.

For upscale dining in Kalispell, try Jagz Fine Dining. A full pound center cut ribeye, char-grilled and topped with bourbon onion sauce goes for $32.95. The Desoto Grill is wildly popular too. The Desoto Grill serves BBQ, sandwiches, desserts, and beer. A smoked chicken sandwich, $12.25. Banana pudding, $4.75. Yum!

Natural beauty is the hallmark of the region around Kalispell. Mountains, pristine lakes, and wild rivers add to the splendor. This part of the country is hard to match anywhere else in the United States. The Visitor Information Center,15 Depot Park in Kalispell, is ready to give good advice and help make your stay more enjoyable. Phone: (888) 888-2308.

Read more about Kalispell and the Wilderness region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Lewistown

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Lewistown (pop. 5,870) is a small ranching, farming, and commercial community located in the geographic center of Montana. The nearest large city is Great Falls, 105 miles to the northwest on U. S. Highway 87. Vast plains and small mountain ranges are common features of the landscape near Lewistown.

Lewistown is a very stable community with a population that remains essentially unchanged over the past 100 years. In 1920 Lewistown had a population of 6,120, in 1940, 5,874, and, in the most recent census, 5,910. Few communities in the entire United States enjoy such stability. A good thing.

Lewistown is blessed by natural beauty. Nearby low mountain ranges, the Big Snowy Mountains and Judith Mountains, offer recreational opportunities galore. Wildlife are abundant in the countryside: mule deer, antelope, porcupine, and many other species are common.

Lewistown is a special place to visit. Beautiful historic buildings from the town’s early beginning still stand on main street. And many friendly merchants are found on main street selling clothing, gifts, antiques, artwork, sporting goods and much more. Moccasin Mountain Art and Gifts is a first stop for many visitors.

Bring a camera and shoot lots of pictures. This a town to remember years after your visit. Government buildings are often impressive in most cities. In Lewistown, the Fergus County Courthouse is an amazing architectural structure. Down the street is Lewistown’s public library, built in the early part of the last century by funds from the famous industrialist Andrew Carnegie.

Lodging is somewhat limited in Lewistown, but the city can usually handle the low number of visitors who arrive. The Yogo Inn is a good choice. In addition to well-appointed rooms, the inn has superb dining in Stetson’s Restaurant and beverages for every liking in the Golden Spike Lounge. Big Spring Brewery at the east edge of town is exceedingly popular: Command Bomber IPA, anyone?

For a quiet experience close to nature, stay at the Pheasant Tales Bed and Bistro, a lodge located about four miles south of Lewistown. Wildlife in the area and mountains views are only a coupe of reasons why guests stay at this wonderful lodge.  Guests are offered evening meals, with advance reservations. (406) 538-2124.

Lewistown ranks high among the best small towns in Montana,  along with Red Lodge, Livingston, and Bigfork. All four of these towns have so much homey charm and historical interest, plus all are situated in beautiful natural settings with mountain environments close by.

Read more about the Ranchland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Great Falls

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Great Falls (pop. 58,701) get its name from five magnificent waterfalls that existed during historic times on the Missouri River near the City of Great Falls. Over many years, dams were built on the river and three of the falls largely disappeared from the natural landscape. Only Crooked Falls and Rainbow Falls remain untouched. Nevertheless, much beauty can be seen in the area around the dams and along the Missouri River more generally.

Interstate Highway, IH-15, is a main north-south road that runs through Great Falls and connects the city with Canada to the north and Helena, Butte, and Salt Like City to the south. Another major road, Montana State Highway 200, runs east-west through Great Falls and is the main artery across a huge swath of central Montana, running from North Dakota in the east to Idaho in the west.

Great Falls is headquarters for a vast region. And an amazing city. To the east and north of the city are endless plains, to the west the Rocky Mountains. Fun in the outdoors beckons in the city and the vast largely unpopulated hinterlands spreading out in every direction.

Giant Springs State Park, one of state’s best parks, is almost inside Great Falls city limits. Giant Springs is a great place for hiking, bicycling, picnicking, fishing, and bird watching all the while experiencing  wonderful scenery along the Missouri River. The park is famous for its underground spring that pumps millions of gallons of water into the Missouri River every day. A segment of River’s Edge Trail passes through the park. All of this can be had with an urban environment close by.

Great Falls has two major museums: C.M. Russell Museum tells the story of an early artist during Montana’s frontier days. Many originals of Russell’s art are on display. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Interpretative Center in Great Falls is a classic. Exhibits at the museum explain the discovery of the region by Lewis & Clark at the beginning of the 19th century.

If you stay overnight or for a few days, the historic Hotel Arvon is a good choice. The Celtic Cowboy, a pub and restaurant adjoining the hotel, is amazing for its old-world charm. Lots of craft beers to drink here. Think Irish. Dante’s Creative Cuisine in the downtown area is tops for evening dining.

Great Falls is not the first thing tourists think about when they plan a trip to Montana. Many should reconsider, less an opportunity is missed to enjoy so much offered in and around Great Falls.

Read more about Great Falls and the Discoveryland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Helena

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Helena (pop. 31,429) is Montana’s state capital. The city is quite small, so it is easy to get around, even for first-time visitors. Tourists generally do not flock to Helena like they do other hot spots such as Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks and cities and towns near the parks.

Helena is defined by Last Chance Gulch, the main street through  downtown. Why go there? Last Chance Gulch is lined with many historical building dating back to the late 1800s. Architects and common folks will marvel at the beauty of these old buildings, many built with stone.

Helena
Fun on Last Chance Gulch in Helena. photo courtesy of Helena Chamber.

On the Gulch or near the Gulch, on side streets, are some of the city’s best restaurants and hotels. For upscale dining, try On Broadway and Lucca’s. More casual dining is found at Bert and Ernie’s. The Parrot Confectionery, on Last Chance Gulch, is a must-visit old-time establishment, serving malts, mild shakes, chili, and other delights. Plus, the Parrot makes home-made chocolate candies that are in a word, the best.

Two hotels stand out on or near Last Chance Gulch: DoubleTree by Hilton Helena and the Great Northern Best Western Hotel. Both hotels have or are near excellent dining for guests and the public.

As for attractions, the Montana Historical Museum near the state capitol is outstanding. The museum has displays and artifacts covering the early days of Montana’s history. The museum also includes a wonderful art gallery which has many original pieces by famous artist C.M. Russell. The museum is open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays and Saturday, closed on Sundays and holidays.

The state capitol is open to the public. The building is magnificent, a genuine treasure for such a small town. The capitol is open 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. weekdays and 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. weekends.

Read more about Helena and the Ranchland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Missoula

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Missoula (pop, 74,428) is home to the University of Montana. College towns tend to have a distinctive vibe, different from regular cities. Missoula does not completely fit this picture, since the city and the surrounding towns have some industry, especially related to forestry. And Missoula draws lots of tourists.

One major interstate highway, IH 94 going east, connects Missoula with Billings and states in the Midwest.  Going west from Missoula, IH 94 leads to Spokane and Seattle. Many flights arrive daily at Missoula International Airport. Missoula is far away from other centers of population. It’s a drive of 200 miles to Spokane, and Billings is 342 miles to the east.

Missoula
Aerial view of Missoula. Photo courtesy of Missoula Parks and Recreation, City of Missoula.

Missoula is a destination for outdoor activities. The Bitterroot River Valley and surrounding mountains south of town offer almost limitless opportunities for hiking, bicycling, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. For beautiful scenery, a drive south of Missoula in the Bitterroot Valley is special. The Bitterroot Mountains, carved by glaciers during the Ice Ages, are spectacular to see and experience.

Missoula has a shopping mall with lots of national chair stores. Beyond that shopping is spread throughout the city. Many stores are owned by local businesses, especially restaurants and shops that cater to needs of people who seek fun in the outdoors.

Since Missoula is mainly an education center and a commercial hub, few big attractions are in the city. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation appeals to a few folks. A carousel will surely keep the kids happy if they are traveling along. The downtown has a historical importance, with a few places listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Given the mix of people who live in and visit Missoula, it is obvious why the city is noted for its excellent dining and drinking places. The Shack just off Higgins Street downtown snags many customers. Bernice’s Bakery is always a good choice. Every visitor should stop at Worden’s Market and Deli. Many young adults hang out at the Iron Horse Bar & Grill. For upscale dining, try the Pearl Café. The décor at the Pearl has an intimate feeling that appeals to many who pay big bucks for dinner.

Bayern Brewing is more than a place, it’s a destination for many. Many beer labels sold here. Dancing Trout, Dump Truck, and Face Plant show this guys have an imagination when choosing names for Bayern Brewing beers. A part of the brewery, Edelweiss Bistro serves food sourced from local farms and ranches. Order a Weisswurst, two poached white sausages served Bier Hall-style with a pretzel and Händlmaier’s Sweet Bavarian mustard. $9. Yum!

Read more about  Missoula and the Wonderland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Bozeman

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Bozeman (pop.48,532) is a small city with a big city attitude. The city sort of feels like it would fit nicely anywhere in the Rocky Mountain region.  Say as a neighboring city to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Main Street in the downtown area is always busy.  A beehive for sure.

From Bozeman, travelers can easily reach many popular vacation hot spots in southwest Montana. The north entrance to Yellowstone, near the small town of Gardiner, is south of Livingston on U.S. Highway 89.  And the west entrance to Yellowstone, near the small town of West Yellowstone, is directly south of Bozeman on U.S. Highway 191.

One major interstate highway, IH 94, going east, connects Bozeman with Billings and states in the Midwest. Going west from Bozeman, IH 94 leads to Missoula, Spokane and Seattle. Many flights arrive daily at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

Bozeman June 26, 2015. Photo courtesy Bozeman Convention and Visitors Bureau. From Comprehensive Plan, Logan Simpson.

Bozeman is an education center and a vacation hub. Montana State University is headquartered in Bozeman. The city has limited shopping in a traditional way. But many stores supply visitors with all sorts of goods for having fun in the outdoors.

Is Bozeman a party town? Maybe. Many bars and good restaurants are ready to serve visitors. Some great dining choices here, even extra nice places like Plonk Wine which, you may have guessed, has imported wines from Europe that can set you back $400 a bottle.

Bozeman offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. At the top of the list is fly-fishing for trout in the Gallatin and Madison Rivers. During winter months, many ski bums head for Bridger Bowl near Bozeman. Hiking, bicycling, and whitewater rafting are other major activities enjoyed by many outdoor enthusiasts.

Two attractions standout in the Bozeman, leaving aside Yellowstone. The Museum of the Rockies with its splendid dinosaur collection is a must see. If wildlife is of interest, Montana Grizzly Encounter is a few miles east of Bozeman.

Lots of traffic on Bozeman streets at most hours of the day. Parking spots are hard to find especially on Main Street downtown. City leaders have noticed.  Parking lots on streets to  the north and south of Main Street are ready to serve drivers.

Bozeman tends to cater to visitors who have fatter wallets than most. But some of the outdoors stuff is FREE.

Red more about Bozeman and the Wonderland region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Snapshot of Billings

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Billings (pop. 109,550) is called Montana’s Trailhead. From Billings, travelers can easily reach many destinations in south-central Montana and the Bighorn Basin in northwest Wyoming. The northeast entrance to Yellowstone National park is a short drive from Billings.

One major interstate highway, IH 94, connects Billings with points to the east including Bismarck and Minneapolis. A second interstate highway, IH 25, connects Billings with cities in central Wyoming and south to Denver.  Going west from Billings yet another interstate highway, IH 90, connects with Missoula, Spokane, and Seattle. Many flights arrive at Billings Logan International Airport each day.

Billings MT
Swords Park in Billings. Photo Courtesy Visit Billings.

Billings is a major trade, medical, and entertainment center. And the city is a shopping hub for a huge geographic area. Great dining choices here, even yummy German cuisine at the Oktoberfest German Restaurant in west Billings.

Billings offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, and major attractions are nearby. At the top of the list are the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area southwest of Billings and, for history buffs, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument located a few miles southeast of Billings. Visitors to Billings often stop by Zoo Montana to learn about and experience nature, without having to take a trip into the wild.

Read more about  Billings and the Yellowstone region.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Alternative lodging

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Montana has many great hotels in cities, big and small. But some travelers want alternative lodging. Montana  offers many kinds to choose from.

Bed & Breakfasts are popular some people. Campgrounds are often the choice of RVers.  More recently, vacation rentals are all the rage.

Commercial travel Web sites can help find and book lodging. In some cases, you can also book lodging with the proprietor or a local vendor. If you dial up a phone number with the area code (406) you are likely reach a local business.

Consider special Montana places to stay:

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Favorite Montana hotels

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BOZEMAN HAS EXCELLENT lodging
The Lark (downtown)(866) 464-1000
RSVP Hotel(406) 404-7999
Howlers Inn B&B(406) 587-2050
Hilton Garden Inn(406) 582-9900
Sacajawea Hotel in town of Three Forks not far from Bozeman(406) 285-6515
Billings has excellent Hotels
Hilltop Inn by Riversage(406) 245-5000
Riversage Billings Inn(406) 252-6800
Ledgestone Hotel(406) 259-9454
Home2 Suites by Hilton(406) 252-2255
The Crossings Bed & Breakfast(406) 672-6878
MISSOULA HAS EXCELLENT LODGING
Holiday Inn
Missoula Downtown
(406) 721-8550
Gibson Mansion
Bed & Breakfast
(406) 251-1345
DoubleTree by Hilton
Hotel Missoula -
Edgewater
(406) 728-3100
Residence Inn by Marriott Missoula(406) 542-6252
HELENA HAS EXCELLENT HOTELS
DoubleTree by Hilton
Helena (Downtown)
(406) 443-2200
Great Northern Best
Western Hotel
(downtown)
(406) 457-5500
Jorgenson's Inn
& Suites
(406) 442-1770
GREAT FALLS HAS EXCELLENT HOTELS
Hotel Arvon406-952-1101
Great Falls Inn by Riversage406-453-6000
O'Haire Motor Inn406-454-3141

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Guest ranches in Montana

RED LODGE POST

Montana
Photo courtesy Summer Star Ranch, Helena.

Montana is the heart of the West. You can experience a western lifestyle when staying at a guest ranch. Wranglers saddle-up the  horses when guests are ready for horseback riding, a most popular activity. Of course Montana’s guest ranches offer much more, activities galore. Here are a few of the ranches:

So how to choose the best fit. You want to pick the right guest ranch to satisfy your interests and needs. The Montana Dude Ranchers’ Association provides valuable insights. Paradise Guest Ranch is helpful too. Other tips are shared by the Dude Ranchers’ Association.

Travel tip: Before you go be sure to ask the guest ranch about their horses. How many do they have? Are the horses suitable for pros as well as riders with little or no experience. What sort of terrain is near the ranch’s corral? Horseback riding on flat land is okay, but trails off in the hills and up in the mountains are more fun.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Laughing Horse Lodge, Swan Lake

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What is the Laughing Horse Lodge all about? The name sounds a bit whimsical, but a little more digging tells the full story about this lodging gem. To begin, the Laughing Horse Lodge is a seasonal business, opening on May 12 and closing in October in 2019.

May 12 is Mother’s Day and the Laughing Horse aims to please mom. At brunch you’ll be entertained with music by Second Wind. At supper, Electric Avenue Blues is on the “stage.”

In the main lodge, visitors are greeting by a cozy dining area and a bar. Chef Kathleen is a wonderful lady and she wants to make you feel right at home.

In case you want authenticity, listen to Kathleen:  “In our 18th years here at the Horse, the practices we have tried to implement as much as possible are providing natural, hormone-free, known-sourced food…”  Dining here is special. Try Kathleen’s baked cambozola topped with Turkish figs and warm organic fig preserves served with crostini.

A lovely garden is immediately out the back door. A few steps away are several small cabins all nicely decorated with log furniture and western art. Cozy quilts cover the beds. No TVs, great! Very homey for sure.

Laughing Horse Lodge is located a few miles south of Bigfork on Montana Highway 83. Glacier National park and Flathead Lake are not too far away. If I were asked to give a rating, I’d say the Laughing Horse gets five stars. Contact them at 406-886-2080. Laughing Horse Lodge.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Cabin Rentals Montana

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Staying close to nature is a special way to experience Montana. In the Bitterroot Valley, south of Missoula, a rental cabin is the way to go.

Cabins are private, in scenic areas, and away from the busy side of life.  www.Bitterrootcabins.com can help you choose from many extra nice properties. Cabins can sleep four (4) or more and range from 1 to 4 bedrooms. A plus, some cabins are pet friendly. Great for a family get-away.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy




Montana Hot Springs

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Hot springs are big business in Montana and very popular with visitors. Hot mineral water is thought to have therapeutic value for many of life’s common ailments. Depending on the location, businesses with hot springs offer a variety of amenities, ranging from spas, restaurants, lodging, entertainment, and more. As the hot springs industry has grown, guests are offered plenty of things to do besides taking a dip in pools of warm mineral water.

Bozeman Hot Springs is a great place to relax in one or more of their 12 pools. Bozeman Hot Springs is a full fitness facility too. This business is located about 8 miles west of Bozeman.  (406) 587-3030. Norris Hot Springs about 39 miles west of Bozeman also attracts lots of visitors. (406) 685-3303.

The village of Hot Springs (pop. 557), located about 30 miles southwest of Flathead Lake, is famous for hot mineral springs. Fine indoor bathing facilities are offered at Wild Horse Hot Springs (406) 741-3777. In the same area:  Spa Hot Springs Motel (406) 547-3366  and Clinic (406) 547-3377. Hot Springs also boasts a new outdoor hot mineral pool at the Symes Hotel (406) 741-2361.

Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort is a very popular destination. Quinn’s is located northwest of Missoula in the small village of Paradise not far from Plains (pop. 1,050). This resort offers a pool, lodging, restaurant, and a tavern.  Cabins are modern and extra nice.  Harwood House Restaurant at Quinn’s gets rave reviews. And the wine list at Quinn’s is superb.  (406) 826-3150.

Chico Hot Springs is south of Livingston, in Paradise Valley, in the village of Pray, Montana. Chico features pools, lodging, spa, and dining. This is one of Montana’s best known hot springs . A great location, not far from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park. (406) 333-4933

Elkhorn Hot Springs is several miles south of Butte in southwest Montana. Guests can stay in cabins or a lodge.  (406) 834-3434. Jackson Hot Springs is located in the same vicinity, a few miles southwest of Elkhorn Hot Springs. (406) 834-3151.

Fairmont Hot Springs Resort is near Butte in Anaconda, Montana. As the name resort suggests, this place offers much to do. Lodging, dining, golf, spa, are more here. (406) 797-3241

Lolo Hot Springs is southwest of Missoula on U.S. Highway 12. Lots of extras offered here, such as entertainment, trails, horseback riding, and more. Lodging and restaurant are on the property. (877) 541-5177

If your trip takes you to Helena, try Broadwater Hot Springs & Fitness, located abut four miles west of town. Several pools and hot tubs offered here. A fitness room on site is a way to boost health.  Some visitors take water fitness classes. Sauna and steam rooms are available too. Guests can enjoy beverages and feast at The Springs Taproom and Grille. (406) 443-5777.

Boulder Hot Springs Inn, Spa, and Retreat Center is located a few mile south of Helena on IH 15 in the town of Boulder.  (406) 225-4339.

https://www.MontanaTraveler.com
Copyright © 2020 John Sandy