Quick video highlighting some of the views available along the Montana/Idaho border! Just about an hour and a half southwest of Missoula, Montana, we made a Sunday trip to the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest in Idaho County, Idaho. We explored the Mocus Point Trail and surrounding areas, took in some wintertime views and made our way over to the Weir Creek Natural Hot Springs.
Just 3 hours away from Missoula, Montana sits one of the most pristine and beautiful national parks in the west: Glacier National Park. Planning a weekend trip to GNP in the fall season can be a challenge with the park’s fast-changing mountain weather and wildfire conditions.
Although these can be tricky problems to work around, a visit to GNP during these unpopular times provides an experience unlike any other with minimal traffic, trails to yourself, access to abundant wildlife, and beautiful fall colors. Next time you are planning a trip to Glacier, consider a September or early October visit – you will not be disappointed! If you happen to find yourself in GNP during fall season, here are a few of the must-visit destinations:
Morning Coffee @ Many Glacier Lodge
Kick off the early morning after a night of camping at Many Glacier Lake Lodge. Grab a coffee at the lakeside coffeeshop run by world travelers and sit beside a roaring fire overlooking the lake.
Grinnell Glacier Hike
One of the most rewarding hikes on the east side of the park is Grinnell Glacier. This 7.5 mile out-and-back hike stretches along side bright blue glacial lakes and rocky cliffsides marked burnt orange mountain ash trees and alpine meadows. The trail climbs to a perched valley where you will find Upper Grinnell Lake, where the smallest remaining glacier sits in the park: Gem Glacier. The backdrop of Upper Grinnell Lake is called ‘the Garden Wall’ and is part of the continental divide.
Located in prime bear habitat, it is common to see grizzly bears on the distant hillsides of this 10-mile hike. This moderately difficult hike to the lake includes small crossings over footbridges through alpine meadows. A family of moose inhabit the area surrounding IceBurg Lake and can be seen resting in the shade. If you are brave enough, go for a swim in the glacial waters!
Drive the Going-To-The-Sun Road @ Sunset
During peak season, The Going-To-The-Sun road leading to Logan Pass on both the West and East sides of the park is often the most crowded and trafficked road in the park. However, during fall evenings, the road is completely empty – meaning you can pull over, take photos, and view wildlife on your own time! Bring your binoculars to spot birds of prey, big horn sheep, mountain goats, and bear along the way.
Huckleberry Milkshakes @ Two Sisters Café
Treat yourself after a long weekend of hiking and sightseeing with a Montana famous huckleberry milkshake from Two Sisters Café in Babb, MT. This quirky and colorful restaurant makes a perfect pit stop on the way out of the park!
Natural beauty is synonymous with the word Montana. Anywhere one ends up in this lovely state there is bound to be a mountain to hike, a river to float, or a ghost town to get into. The Treasure State surely lives up to its name in more ways than one. Growing up and exploring this state has provided many uniquely Montana moments and memories. In the following post I’ll highlight some exceptional places off the beaten path to experience the Montana that most do not see.
One of the best and certainly highest views in the Bitteroot range usually comes with some snow. Breathtaking is an understatement when referring to both the views and the hike itself. The trail starts off in series of rather steep switchbacks, it gently ascends up the ridge afterwards until the treeline. Overall this is a moderate intensity hike for most people. Looking out onto the Bitteroot Valley and the glacial lakes below from atop this peak is surely something that everyone needs to add to their bucket-list.
Kootenai creek reminds me of the good parts of the Oregon coast right here in Montana. As soon as you leave the car at the trailhead you enter this rare little slice of heaven where prominent rock faces on both sides focus one’s attention onto the swift flowing alpine creek in the bottom of the valley. The first few miles follow this creek and some side trails up the mountain provide for some great views. In the summer it’s not uncommon to find rock-climbers on these intimidating faces. Anytime of year is good for this breathtaking scenery.
The road up to this lake is surely the first thing to mention. Above the lake lies an old mine and to get to that mine there is an old and very rocky road. As a kid the way up always scared me to death as the large rocks in culmination with a steep drop off always had me walking through the what ifs in my head. Rounding the last corner and finally seeing the abandoned mining cabins was always a relief, but actually seeing that crisp blue mountain lake truly made that nerve-wracking trip worthwhile. Exploring the area and what remains of the cabin and mines gives some hints as to the history of this place, but one of the bigger stories that hangs on this mountain was the nearly fatal mountaineering accident Hank Williams Jr. suffered here. Ajax lake is certainly one of the better mountain lakes out there for its combination of fishing, beauty, and history; an unforgettable road for an unforgettable experience.
This isn’t Virginia City nor Garnet, way up in the Pintler range sits a ghost town that looks like it could actually have ghosts. Houses melt into the ground and trees, while the only sound comes from the creek flowing right next to the main street. An old mining camp is the main feature here with a 100 year glimpse back into an entirely different style of living. Once you make it to the parking area the short walk follows the old road right into town. With some further exploration behind this town one will find some beautiful yet trail-less alpine lakes. Ultimately the place feels as abandoned as it looks. This is a truly authentic ghost town, waiting to be explored.
The blog that brings you all my favorite adventures that I’ve experienced in Montana. Below, you will find all the information that I’ve used and what I’ve done throughout my time here. With all these adventures that I have experienced have made Montana one of my favorite places on earth.
Here is a list of my favorite adventures that I have experienced in Montana (Scroll down to find more information about them)
Hiking & Backpacking
Rock Climbing (Indoor & Outdoor)
Skiing & Snowboarding
Hiking and Backpacking
One of the best ways to experience this beautiful state is by hiking in the great outdoors. There are so many amazing places to explore including my all-time favorite, Glacier National Park. This national park is located in the north-western part of the state and it extends up into Canada. I’ve traveled to Glacier many of times and every journey has been more beautiful than the last.
Here is the website where you can find a ton of information if you’re interested in taking a trip up there any time soon.
Freestone Climbing gym is the best climbing gym in Missoula. I love going there after my classes to free my mind with some climbing. It’s got awesome people and enough routes that will keep you coming back for more day after day.
Here is their website, go check them out if you like to climb!
Montana has some of the best whitewater kayaking in the country. This is where I learned to kayak a few years ago and it will always hold a special place in my heart. One of my favorites, and usual after class run, is the Alberton Gorge section of the Clark Fork River. This is an amazing section of class III-IV rapids just 30 minutes west of Missoula. There is also the Blackfoot River that is just north of Missoula that offers great scenery and whitewater in the spring.
Here is where you can find more information on my favorite run as well as the current flows for this section.
There is a reason so many people come to Montana for the mountains. THE SKIING IS UNREAL. From the local Snowbowl just 20 minutes north of Missoula to the massive Big Sky Resort a few hours away there is enough powder to go around. These are 2 of my favorite places to ski, yet there is so many more places out there that I’m excited to go explore.
I just started mountain biking around Missoula last year, and I have no idea why I didn’t start a lot earlier! Not only is it a great leg workout but it is a blast to go out and explore the single tracks throughout the mountains. My favorite trials start from Sawmill Gulch just up the street from where I live in the Rattlesnake Recreational area.
Here is a great website with tons of information on trails just outside of Missoula!
From cool summer nights to frigid winter days hot springs are a great choice for an adventure. There are awesome hot springs spread out all over Montana. My favorite one has to be the Boiling River hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. If you haven’t been there, it is a MUST if you live in, or are even passing through Montana.
Here is a website that has information about all the hot springs in Montana.
I grew up loving the outdoors just outside of Portland, OR. While growing up my parents always took me and my two brothers out to go skiing and hiking along with many other adventures throughout my life, and because of this I began to have a deep appreciation for everything around me. This made it a very easy decision when I was comparing colleges all over the country. I have to say moving to Montana to attend the University here in Missoula, MT has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have only widened my appreciation for nature and all the things you can go do in this life. I can’t wait to go on more adventures in the future and I can only hope to see you out there!