Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish is a world favorite mountain resort town located in the NorthWestern part of Montana in Flathead County. This small community of almost 7,800 people just 50 miles south of the Canadian border provides visitors with a modern take on a small-town experience by blending its pioneer and railroad roots with luxury amenities found in major cities. Tourists from around the world travel to Whitefish to enjoy its stunning scenery and year-round activities such as skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort and golf at the Whitefish Lake Golf Club. 

Geography Of Whitefish

Whitefish, Montana
Mountainous landscape around Whitefish.

Part of what captivates tourists to this town is its unique geography and wildlife that inhabit the environment. Whitefish sits at the bottom of Big Mountain, just a short distance away from Whitefish Lake. Big Mountain is the prominent mountain apart of the Whitefish Mountain Resort, covering over 3000 acres of land. Thirty miles from town is the famous Glacier National Park. The most important features are the Logan Pass at the Continental Divide, Lake MacDonald, St. Mary Lake, and the Rocky Mountains. Whitefish's other striking geographical features include the 2.4 million acres Flathead National Forest, nearby Glacier National Park, and Flathead Lake. 

The weather in Whitefish varies throughout the seasons. Winters are cold with snowfall, while summers are warm. Sometimes extreme weather can occur with chilling temperatures in the winter and hot heat in the summer. 

History Of Whitefish

Whitefish was home to the Native American tribes of the Kootenai, the Pend d'Oreille, and the Bitterroot Salish before the first permanent settlement was made in 1883 by John Morton. The town's first settlement also marked the beginning of its logging industry, which would remain a crucial part of the economy until the recent decades. In April of 1905, Whitefish was incorporated as a town. A big push to the town's incorporation was the establishment of the Great Northern Railway, which brought economic opportunities and prosperity to the area. Today the railroad still plays a major role in the town's economy by providing jobs and being a method of transportation for goods and tourists. In the early decades of Whitefish, the town's economy was mainly fueled by the railway, logging, and farming industries, but when Big Mountain Ski Area (known as Whitefish Mountain Resort as of 2007) opened on December 14, 1947, for skiers and Whitefish Golf course in the 50s, overtime more travelers began to flood the area, and the town in response grew its amenities which eventually made tourism its main economic staple.

Infrastructure And Transportation

The railways in Whitefish.

Three major highways important to Whitefish are U.S. Route 93, Montana Highway 40, and U.S. Route 2. U.S. Route 93 North acts as a passageway to the Canadian border with Kootenai National Forest, Flathead Forest, Olney, Lake Koocanusa, and Eureka being along the way. At the west end of U.S. Route 93, Montana Highway 40 begins, connecting Whitefish to the city Columbia Falls at the east end of U.S. Route 2. Three notable spots along U.S. Route 2 are Flathead River, the Glacier Park International Airport, and Glacier National Park.

Transportation in Whitefish makes travel in and out of town convenient for tourists and residents. The town's public transportation service is Flathead County's Mountain Climber/Eagle Transit system. The Mountain Climber includes a special program for seniors, specific routes to Whitefish's tourist attractions, and on-demand service. Greyhound also provides three bus stations for travel in and out of state. Air travel is available at the Glacier Park International Airport, while train services are through Amtrak. The Whitefish Amtrak Station is in the middle of the Northwest Empire Builder train route from Chicago to Portland and other U.S. cities along the way. There are also shuttle busses provided by the Big Mountain Commercial Association that run to Whitefish Mountain Resort and Glacier National Park.

Tourism And Activities In Whitefish

Scenic lift takes bikes up the Whitefish mountain
Scenic lift takes bikes up the Whitefish Mountain.

In the colder months of November to March, the most popular activity in Whitefish is skiing and snowboarding at Big Mountain, while the summer brings more attraction to Glacier National Park, where tourists favor backpacking and hiking. Other winter adventures in Whitefish include sledding, snowmobiling, and exploring the area's mountains trails with snowshoes. Summers at Glacier National Park are enjoyed by camping and horseback riding. Tourists in the warm weather also take fun in rafting, kayaking, and fishing at Flathead Lake, Whitefish River, and Whitefish Lake. Some more summer ventures in Whitefish are ziplining at Whitefish Mountain Resort, rock climbing, and the Farmers Market. Creative pastimes can be found downtown at the Going to the Sun Gallery, and those interested in nightlife can stop by the bars along the way. 

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