Kalispell Attractions & Things To Do
Kalispell mainly serves as a very popular gateway to Glacier National Park, along with being the county seat and largest city in Flathead County. However, Kalispell also has many attractions that bring people here as well.
Located nine miles south of town is Flathead Lake, which is the largest freshwater lake west of the Continental Divide. Flathead Lake used to have excellent fishing for salmon. Unfortunately, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks experiment went a bit awry and killed all the salmon in the 1970’s. As such, Flathead Lake has reverted over to a quality Lake Trout fishery – in a very scenic setting.
If lakes aren’t your thing but hiking is, then you’re in luck since the Jewel Basin Hiking Area is a quick and dirty 45 minutes away. The Jewel Basin has an excellent network of hiking trails, all of which provide some stunning views of the mountains, Flathead Lake and Flathead Valley itself. As an added bonus, since the trailhead is located at a high elevation, the trails are a relatively easy hike since they don’t have a wicked elevation gain.
If you don’t feel like hiking, you can always head north fifteen miles to the town of Whitefish. From there, it’s another 7 miles to the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort (formerly Big Mountain Ski Area). You can either ski (during the winter) or hop on their gondola during the summer for what is probably one of the finest views of Glacier National Park anywhere.
Kalispell itself has a reasonably good city park system. While it's a far cry from the extensive park network found in Great Falls, Missoula or even Whitefish, both Lawrence Park and Woodland Park are quite nice. Thus, if you need a place for a picnic, you at least have a nice place to go. Just beware of the tame ducks at Woodland Park - they mug anyone with food who happens to cross their path!
The weather in Kalispell is not nearly as wild as is found elsewhere in Montana. In many ways, Kalispell is a banana belt of sorts. The high mountains of the continental divide to the east prevent most (but not all) of the cold air that hits Great Falls from reaching Kalispell during the winter. Thus, when it’s 20 below in Great Falls, it will often be around 20 above in Kalispell. Similarly, the mountains around Kalispell tend to keep things a bit cooler in the valley during the summer than will be found elsewhere in Montana.
Summer weather is, quite simply, excellent. Beginning in July and lasting through September, the weather is usually sunny with daytime temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s, with the occasional 90+ day thrown in for variety. However, the rest of the year Kalispell tends to suffer from lots of cloudy, overcast days. The clouds keep the temperature warmer at night, but also keep the days cooler than they would otherwise be. The clouds also have a way of wearing on peoples nerves, too.
As a side note, it is worth mentioning that June weather in this part of Montana can be hit and miss. June is the wettest month in Kalispell, and the precipitation isn’t always in the form of rain – particularly in the mountains. Highs will range from 40 degrees up to 90 degrees, with no rhyme or reason in the patterns. Thus, be careful planning a trip here in June, as the weather can be just about anything.
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