“Turn me loose, set me free, somewhere in the middle of Montana” – Merle Haggard
Our December Montana trip is finally on the blog today, well at least Part 1! In case you didn’t know Seth & I have fallen in love with Montana and we make it our mission to visit at least once a year. We want to explore & see as much of this beautiful state as we can!! This trip took us to Missoula, Whitefish & everywhere in between.
As luck would have it we had more snow at home in NC then we experienced in Montana. We rarely get snow storms in North Carolina, but the one time we do – we just happen to be on vacation. (we were a little disappointed, but we got over it – I mean we were in Montana!)
Day 1 – Wasn’t too terribly exciting we landed in Missoula, grabbed some food & checked in at our hotel. In typical Tasha & Seth fashion we decided to use what was left of our daylight and drive around and explore. We drove towards Stevensville to see Cooper Firearms and see what else the Bitterroot Valley had to offer.
Day 2 – We couldn’t leave Missoula without a few important stops. FIRST off Montana has me obsessed with huckleberry EVERYTHING. It’s basically like a blueberry, but more purple & it taste better. I’m still trying to figure out how to find a Huckleberry bush and get it to grow in NC. If you know of a place who has them let me know. So with that I had to get my fix & get a huckleberry bear claw pastry at the delicious Black Cat Bake Shop ..YUM! Once, I got my fill we headed over to the Boone & Crockett Club museum/headquarters. It did not disappoint! Then we headed over to The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation -which we are proud members of, it was so awesome to see all the huge elk displays!
Then it was off to Whitefish taking the loop around Flathead Lake, unfortunately it was super foggy and dreary we didn’t get to see much. We did see an unreal amount of Cherry Orchards I had no idea that cherries grew there let alone that many! We stopped in the quaint little town of Big Fork then onto Kalispell where we stopped for lunch at the amazing Sykes Dines & Market! I’m obsessed with that place. Then we went on to Whitefish & checked into our amazing Lodge. The Lodge at Whitefish Lake did not disappoint, we were blown away with it’s beauty, decor & so much more. Our room had a view of the wildlife/nature preserve out back, we had a fireplace, the most spacious room, and the most gorgeous bathroom. I was in love. Just a few more things about the lodge – the workout center was the best I’ve seen, the pool had a waterfall, the common areas were gorgeous with fireplaces & Christmas trees at every corner. It felt so cozy & rustic just what we wanted and the feel of Christmas was every where. I was also super pumped about the Montana Coffee Traders shop in the lobby. If you have the chance STAY THERE!
Once settled in we drove up to the Big Mountain ski resort and it was SNOWING! At least we experienced some snow on the mountain! Visit Ski Whitefish!
We had dinner at Mackenzie Pizza Company which was amazing and after we walked around downtown. Whitefish is absolutely stunning at night! I also had to get another coffee at Montana Coffee Traders ..I mean it’s that good.
Day 3 – With a rough snowstorm in the forecast we didn’t want to miss our chance to lay eyes on Glacier National Park. We rented snow shoes and headed East. Since the park is mostly shut down we didn’t see much & I didn’t get my beloved stamp for my National Park Passport (That’s ok I’ll be back!). The roads were covered in ice with snow on top, we headed up to Lake McDonald and explored parts of the lake and took off on a short hike (snow shoes weren’t needed). Surprisingly, there were quite a lot of people out hiking. The colors of Lake McDonald are so vivid, this was another one of those cloudy, grey dreary days, so I can’t imagine what the colors look like with some sun shinning down. We also saw some of the devastation that the forest fires left behind last summer.
Hiking in the forest during the dead of winter is a bit eerie, but yet peaceful. Part of you is wondering if any bears are still lingering, trying to scrounge for one last morsel of food before hibernation. The other part of you is in awe of the beauty of nature, watching the snow clouds move in and out over those jagged peaks that make Glacier famous. Trying to beat a snowstorm we left and headed back to town planning our next adventure that afternoon!
The one good thing about a lack of snow, is that we were able to drive & cover lots of ground. Literally, we left the US and headed to the Canadian border. Unfortunately, we left our passports at home, won’t make that mistake again! Once again Montana surprises us – some areas are so vastly different from others. The town of Eureka for instance has a micro-climate so it’s considerably warmer than towns nearby, it seems very dry and Tundra like. Upon driving into Roosville at the border we saw sheep in the middle of the road at first glance we thought they were Big Horn sheep and then realized they were Stone Sheep. It’s so cool to see different landscapes.
Stay Tuned for Part 2! Some photos are cell phone pics, so not great quality, but hey we are on vacation, I don’t want to take my camera everywhere 🙂
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