Amusement Parks
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Getting There
You came primarily for the skiing, but you'll be here for a week, and there are several tempting alternatives you should seriously consider for at least one day. Some of the greatest cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and ice fishing in North America is in and around Whitefish, helped, of course, by Glacier National Park being right next door. This is truly a Winter Wonderland, and you ought to get out in it as much as possible. If you've never done some of these things, it's a magnificent place to start. No matter what you want to do, you can rent the equipment, take lessons and hire guides to take you into spectacular locations. Most of the other major ski resorts can't offer these activities because they're relying more and more on snowmaking equipment, which does not extend off the tight parameters of the ski trails. Whitefish, with its long season of plentiful natural snow, has a huge treasure you should take advantage of while you're here. dogsledding
cross country skiing The cross country skiing in Whitefish and Glacier Natiuonal Park is incredible. There are broad valleys where lakes are iced over many feet thick so are safe for skiing. There are hundreds of miles of forest and park service roads available for skiing. But most spectacular of all is Going To The Sun Highway. Glacier National Park is closed for the Winter. The roads are blocked to vehicle traffic. This clears the highway for skiiers. GTTS Highway switchbacks up the mountain range until it crosses over the Continental Divide, then snakes its way down the other side. If you're experienced enough and in good enough condition, you can ski this route across the park in one long day. Several outfitting services will shuttle you to one side, then pick you up at the other side. Even if you don't choose to do that, you can ski one of the lakes from one end to the other. The Whitefish Mountain Ski School at the resort can provide lessons in CX skiing and guided trips according to your ability level.
Snowshoeing is the exact opposite of skiing. It's a very calm, quiet, private means of crossing a Winter landscape. The Whitefish Ski School offers lessons and rentals. This is not a difficult skill to learn. An hour or so of instruction is all you need. From then on it's just a matter of practice. No one comes all the way to Whitefish on their first skiing trip. You've been to several smaller resorts back East first. So we suggest you take your lesson and try equipment back there, where it's cheaper. If you like it, you might consider buying a pair of snowshoes and bringing them with you. You could then head out the hundreds of miles of snowshowing trails on your own. This is a very demanding cardiovascular sport. Unless you do it often, an hour or so will be your limit. snowshoeing
sleigh ride Sleigh Rides are a nostalgic trip back to the 1800s. Several outfitters in the Whitefish area offer this experience. We like the Bar W Guest Ranch (406 - 863- 9099) just outside the town. Their sleigh rides take you out across the ranch for an hour and include a hot beverage. Cripple Creek Ranch (406- 889- 3674) takes you on a much longer ride out in a Christmas looking bright red sleigh, serves a full course dinner in a heated wall tent, then brings you back by a different route. Your lodging may recommend other outfitters. This is an activity you can often schedule in the evening, so you can ski all day and go sleighing for dinner.
If anyone in your family or your group loves to fish, you must try ice fishing on Whitefish Lake. You drill a hole the size of a manhole cover or smaller and drop your line through. You'll be astonished at how large the fish are and how many you'll catch. You can ask at your lodging desk about guides, but our recommendation is Jeff Rach out of neighboring Big Fork, at 406-270-8833, email flatheadlake charters@gmail.com. He'll pick you up at 9 am, preferably at The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, but if needed at wherever you're staying. He'll shuttle you out to an ice fishing shelter on the lake, which will shelter you from the sometimes biting winds. You might catch Lake Trout, Cutthroat Trout, Northern Pike, Bull Trout, Rainbow Trout or the prized Whitefish. Jeff provides the tackle and bait, snacks and drinks, and shuttles you back to The Lodge at 2 pm. Some of the restaurants in town will prepare your catch for you, some of the lodging has a kitchen you can use to fix it yourself, or you can just catch and release. Since you'll be sitting motionless, you'll want to dress more warmly than for skiing, but remember you will be in a shelter. ice fishing
snowmobiling Snowmobiling is hugely popular in Montana, and if you try it for a day you'll quickly see why. With a couple hours of practice you can become pretty good at handling one, and you can get into amazing scenery very quickly. You do have to dress warmly, and you should go with a guided group rather than venturing off on your own. You'll stay mostly on forest service roads or special snowmobiling trails, but you'll still see incredible country. Swan Mountain Snowmobiling (406-387-4405) offers two hour, half day and all day tours. They can pick you up at your lodging. They rent appropriate clothing but given that you're here for skiing you should be able to outfit yourself. Your guide will provide instruction before you head out, and can add additional teaching as the opportunity presents itself. They offer special sunrise and sunset tours if you're willing to get up at 5 am or stay out on the trail well after dark. Those tours include lots of hot tea, hot cofee and hot chocolate to combat the chilling temps. You can ask at your lodging desk for other guide services with whom they mahy have special packages.
Dogsledding is a unique activity that not only introduces you to a mode of transportation famous on the frontier, but will introduce you to these wonderful animals with their intelligence, skills, stamina, teamwork and loving relationship with their owner. Outfitting services in Whitefish can teach you to stand on the rear runners and drive the sled yourself, or to ride on the sled bundled up in blankets while the guide drives the sled. We like Basecamp (406-871-9733) but the desk at your lodging may have package deals with others. Basecamp offers half day, full day, overnight and multi day dogsledding trips (you stay in cabins each night). They do, however, book solid ffrom December through March, so you should call well in advance of your trip. You dress for dogsledding as you would for skiing or snowmobiling. dogsledding
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