Wintertime in Whitefish, Montana is one of the most beautiful seasons to enjoy the small ski town and all it has to offer. This town doesn’t slow down after a winter storm, it celebrates it! Are you thinking about exploring this hidden gem for a weekend getaway? This article will give you the perfect weekend itinerary for what to see and do while you’re here.
8:30 am – Breakfast at Buffalo Cafe
A local favorite, Buffalo Cafe offers amazing breakfast options to keep you energized for your full day ahead!
10:00 am – Ski on Big Mountain
A trip to Whitefish is never complete without a day at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Endless slopes and an approachable mountain offers a day of fun for all level of skiers and snowboarders.
3:00 pm – Apres Ski at Hellroaring Saloon
After hittin’ the slopes, enjoy an apres-ski drink and nachos at Hellroaring Saloon, located next to the village on the mountain.
5:00 pm – Massage at the Spa at Whitefish Lake
You’re bound to be sore after a day on the mountain, so treat yourself to a massage at the beautiful Spa at Whitefish Lake!
7:00 pm – Dinner at Tupelo Grille
Be sure to book a table here, and be ready for one of the best meals in town. Featuring local cuisine influenced by cajun and southern flavors, the superb service completes a meal here.
8:30 am – Breakfast at Loula’s Cafe
Loula’s breakfasts include the standard fare as well as popular originals like Lemon Stuffed French toast with raspberry sauce or Eggs Benedict with white truffle oil.
9:45 am – Pick up a Packed Lunch from Montana Coffee Traders
Before you head off for the day, pick up a packed lunch from Montana Coffee Traders. They offer a variety of sandwiches and snacks that you can bring with you to the park which is helpful because most restaurants in West Glacier are closed in the winter!
10:00 am – Drive to Glacier National Park to snowshoe
The beautiful Glacier National Park is only a 30-minute drive away from Whitefish and offers miles of scenic snowshoeing trails. You can rent snowshoes from multiple places in town as well as outside of the park.
7:00 pm – Dinner at Abruzzo’s
Finish off your day with a delicious traditional Italian meal at Abruzzo’s. They offer extensive selection of shared plates, grilled steaks, fresh seafood, and a small but decadent dessert list, all prepared in-house and served alongside an Italian-focused cocktail program and an Italian-centric wine list.
If you went to school in the 80’s or 90’s you probably played the computer game The Oregon Trail. While on your exciting and fateful journey you learned about dysentery and getting run over by a wagon. Luckily, on this journey you have very little chance of those things happening. However, there is a high chance you will learn about our ancestors and have a bit of fun. So let’s get started…
We’re going to begin our journey west in Independence, Missouri. All of the historic trails—Oregon, Santa Fe, and California, started at or near Independence. This was a popular “jumping off” point where the pioneers
could stock their wagons before their arduous journey. Spend some time getting acquainted with the trail at the National Frontier Trails Museum. This museum researches, interprets, and preserves the history of the pioneers who traveled along the trials. After seeing the museum head to the Independence Courthouse Square, this was the official start of The Oregon Trail. Walk around the square and try and get a sense of what it was like to have all of your earthly possessions crammed into a wagon to set off on a dangerous journey across the continent.
Make your way west to Rock Creek Station which is near Fairbury, Nebraska. Rock Creek Station was a Pony Express station and road ranch that served the
pioneers along the trail. It is here where Wild Bill Hickok shot his first man. You can see reconstructed buildings, pioneer graves and trail ruts. While in the area you should definitely check out the wonderful Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Keep heading west to Kearney and The Great Platte River Road Archway, one of the coolest spots along the trail. The monument is a museum that honors the people who followed the historic trails and built America.
After visiting The Archway head to the south side of the interstate to visit Ft. Kearney. This was an important outpost along the trail, it allowed the pioneers to resupply and offered them a safe resting area in a sometimes harsh territory.
Continue on brave pioneer, you’re 15% finished with your journey!
We are next headed to the Scottsbluff area and there is A LOT to see here so make sure you have some snacks. This would also be a great area to make your home base for a few days. The first landmark you can see from a distance is Courthouse and Jail Rocks.
These are the first rock formations that the pioneers would have seen on their journey west. At one time there was also a Pony Express station located here.
Just a mere fifteen miles further west stands Chimney Rock.
One of the most awe inspiring and famous landmarks along the trail, Chimney Rock rises over 300 feet above the valley. Do you have some quarters in your pocket? If one is a Nebraska state quarter then you will see a wagon in front of this majestic landmark. While you’re here make sure to check out the cemetery the newly renovated visitor’s center.
After Chimney Rock head over to see the fabulous landmark Scotts Bluff National Monument. Scotts Bluff encompasses over 3,000 acres and towers 800 feet over the valley.
Visitors to the monument can walk in the footsteps of the pioneers of the Oregon Trail, drive to the top of the bluff via the Summit Road and stand in awe at the sight of the bluffs rising up from the prairie.
Before you leave Scotts Bluff pay your respects to an Oregon Trail pioneer, Rebecca Winters. Her grave lies on the eastern side of the town of Scottsbluff at the corner of South Beltline Highway and US Highway 26. Rebecca died in 1852 after contracting cholera, a friend chiseled her name on an iron wagon tire which still stands on her grave today.
Keep heading west, pioneer, to Ft. Laramie. You’ve made it to Wyoming! You’re a quarter of the way there! The fort was constructed in the 1830’s to support the fur trade and it soon became the largest and most important fort on the frontier. Travelers would stop here for several days to rest, mail letters home, and resupply. Today you can stroll the grounds and visit some of the many restored building and ruins.
Just down the road a bit from Ft Laramie is the town of Guernsey where you can see Register Cliff and the Guernsey Trail Ruts. Register Cliff contains the engravings of hundreds of trail pioneers in the soft sandstone. Register Cliff, along with Independence Rock and Names Hill, is one of three prominent “recording areas” in Wyoming.
The Guernsey Trail Ruts, or the Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site, is an amazing section of preserved trail ruts. Decades of pioneers, wagons, and animals wore down the sandstone two to six feet.
Next on our journey is the town of Casper, Wyoming. This would be an excellent place to rest for a couple of days. While you are here make sure to visit the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center. This museum showcases the several different trails with artifacts and interactive displays.
Just a few miles away is Ft Caspar, this is a military post that was named for Caspar Collins who was killed during the Battle of Platte Bridge Station.
Independence Rock, which lies about an hour southwest of Casper, is a large, rounded monolith that is known as the “register of the desert.” The rock was a major landmark for the pioneers, they needed to make it here by July 4th to ensure they make it across the Rocky Mountains. If you walk all the way around the rock you’ve walked about a mile. Also try and climb to top so you can see the many pioneer inscriptions.
Head west on Highway 287 and south on Highway 28 you’ll see some of the most gorgeous Wyoming landscapes, you’ll be traveling through what’s called South Pass. This is also the half way point of the journey west. Hopefully, you’ll get to witness the graceful antelopes bounce through the sage. Make sure to stop at some of the roadside pull offs where you experience both the present and past.
Next you’ll want to make your way over to Montpelier, Idaho and visit the National Oregon/California Trail Center. This is a living-history center, which sits directly on the site of the historic Clover Creek Encampment on the Oregon Trail. The center contains displays and artifacts and depicts the pioneers’ journey along the trail.
Fort Hall is just a short drive from Montpelier but it would have taken the pioneers several days to get there. The fort was originally used as a fur trading post but soon because important to the pioneer. They had been travelling for weeks since a resupply and hundreds of thousands of immigrants made use of Fort Hall.
Keep cruising along, pioneer, we are almost there!
Just west on I84 is Three Island Crossing. This was a major point for the pioneers. It was here where they had to decide on whether or not to cross the dangerous Snake River. If you remember from the Oregon Trail game many pioneers never made it across.
The last stop on this Oregon Trail journey is the National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, Oregon. Yes, you made it to Oregon! This 500 acre site features original Oregon Trail ruts. The center also features dioramas, artifacts, and theater presentations.
Well, pioneers, you’ve made it to Oregon! Hopefully, no one drowned, died of dysentery, or got bit by any snakes. There are many more amazing places to see along the trail, hopefully you’ll be inspired to go on your own manifest destiny across the plains, prairies, and mountains of the west.
Every year more than 318 million people visit our National Parks (NPS). What many call our nation’s “best idea”, National Parks have been treasured by Americans for over a century. Some might say we’re even loving them to death.
I have spent the last 10 years living and working in multiple National Parks including Olympic, Glacier, and, most recently, Yosemite. As both a resident of and tourist to the Park’s, I have a unique perspective of the intersection between natural and human communities that call these special places home. Both your experience and the impact you have on the National Park(s) you chose to visit will be greatly improved if you avoid these 5 classic missteps.
Driving like a Tourist
The chance to see a wild animal, especially from the safety of our cars, is a thrilling experience. And sometimes the beauty of a place can cause you to forget you’re driving at all. However, the temptation of stopping in the middle of the road to take a picture, swerving into oncoming traffic while your gaze stays on the “wild” deer, driving so slowly that the ground squirrels can keep up with you is not only a bother to the locals but is actually dangerous. We know it’s beautiful. We know it’s exciting. Just please pull over.
Picture: An example of “tourist driving” (Washington Post)
2. Dismal Bathroom Etiquette
This misstep is the main reason that you cannot drink straight from a mountain stream without fear of giardia. It’s not the animal poop that will make us gut wrenchingly sick, it’s our own human feces. So please, PLEASE, bury that poop! The vast majority of people either choose not to or are uninformed of this critical Leave No Trace protocol. Also, pack out your toilet paper if you choose to use it. “Paper lilies,” as they are sometimes referred to, not only pollute the environment but are a major eye sore while hiking.
Picture: The dreaded paper lilies (Pacific Trail Crest Association)
3. FOMO (fear of missing out)
A large draw of our country’s remaining open, undeveloped spaces is the silence. Many seek to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and connect with nature. If you are coming to the National Parks for “solitude” and “relaxation,” do not fall into the trap of FOMO. The hoards generally start hiking around 10:00 a.m. and all go to the same “can’t miss” trails. If you really want some solitude, start your hike either before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. and put in the effort to hike the longer trails.
Picture: Glacier’s famous Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at its worst (NPS)
4. Domesticating the Wildlife
Yes, they are cute– and their fur makes them seem so cuddly! But please, don’t be the person who feeds mountain goats skittles. Not only is human food unhealthy for wild animals, feeding wildlife can disrupt their natural foraging rhythms, causing them to starve in the winter months. Or worse, animals that become aggressive towards humans often have to be put down by Rangers. Resist the urge! Save a bear.
Picture: The first director of the National Park Service, Steven Mather, feeding a bear in 1923 (PBS). We know better now. Read the “Night of the Grizzlies” if you still think feeding bears (or any other wildlife) is a good idea.
5. Accidental Death
There is a 607 page book called “Death in Yosemite.” Do not make the book 608 pages! A major rising cause of accidental deaths in recent years is, you know it, the “selfie.” Though selfies appear innocent and safe, if you’re trying to get that –perfect– shot dangling over a 2,000 ft. waterfall luck may not always be on your side. The quest for extreme selfies killed 259 people between 2011 and 2017…don’t be the next selfie victim! (BBC)
Now I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but in any case, I hope I experience these things before I go.
At one point, there were boards in my local downtown area that said, “Before I die I want to”, I personally never took them into consideration.
The time has come though where I have to write a blog post, so I am choosing to write a list of big and small things I want to do.
I can’t say that any are more significant than the next, or that they go in any type of order.
Here it is, ten things I want to do before I die.
Meet David Dobrik
This picture really did David Dobrik dirty, but that is besides the fact of how much I love his videos. On the flip side, it was the only one that was mildly good without copyright infringement.
2. Drink wine in Italy
Wine and Italy seem to complement themselves quite well and I feel this might just be what I need to die happy.
3. Attend New York Fashion week
Honestly, if I could attend any type of fashion week I would be happy. I figure if I am going, I might as well go to New York.
4. Watch Conor McGregor fight live
Even though the man is slightly controversial I really would love to see him fight live. I love Ireland and this Irish man.
5. Hike in all 61 National Parks
I am not even sure if you can even “hike” in every national park in the U.S. Although, I do hope that I get to visit all of them.
6. Visit all Seven Wonders of the World
Extremely cliché, but they got their names for a reason.
7. Ski in Zell am See
Zell is located in Salzburg, Austria and I want to ski there. First things first, I have to learn to ski well enough not to die on the mountain. I went there for a Holiday while in Europe and fell in love with the pure beauty this place has to offer.
8. Wake up in the Four Seasons Hotel George V in Paris
Crème de la crème…Even if I woke up in the lobby I think my life would be okay. Preferably stay in the penthouse overlooking the city of Paris, but we will work with what we have.
9. Ride a bull—A real one
For some reason, I have it in my head that I wouldn’t get bucked off in the first millisecond and somewhat want to find out. I also really enjoy watching rodeo and probably should try it before I die.
10. Watch the Macys Day Parade in person
I have always loved watching the Macys Day parade on Thanksgiving. It was one of my favorite things as a little kid to watch with my mom. For that reason, I would love to see it in person with her one day.
Ten things I want to do before I die, some of them very small, some of them more meaningful and others are just plain out goofy. I don’t expect any of you to read this whole thing, but if you do, please share. I both need an “A” and am working for an “A” in this class as well as on my blog, in order to do that I must have 400 clicks of activity. Share away and enjoy my short blogging career.