Montana Road Trip- Kalispell

We’ve been living in northeastern Montana for 6 months (officially eligible for resident hunting licenses, yeah!).  Drew’s mom Cathy wanted to come visit us on her spring break so we planned a little road trip!  Here was our itinerary:

Screenshot 2014-04-07 17.38.24

Day 1: drive from home to Kalispell

Day 2: explore Kalispell

Day 3: ski Whitefish

Day 4: drive from Kalispell to Missoula

Day 5: drive from Missoula to Bozeman

Day 6: drive from Bozeman to Chico Hot Springs

Day 7: drive home from Chico Hot Springs

Bogie and Spartacus are such good travelers.  I can't even handle the cuteness!

Bogie and Spartacus are such good travelers. I can’t even handle the cuteness!

The drive to Kalispell took about 9 hours.  Starting the drive in the morning we saw lots of pheasants and some mule deer doe close to the house.

Montana Mule Deer Does

Mule Deer does

But it really didn’t get pretty until we got to Lewis and Clark National Forest and then Glacier National Park.  The roads were mostly closed in Glacier but we were able to enter the park and go 11 miles on the Going-to-the-Sun road along Lake McDonald.

Glacier National Park in Winter

My mother-in-law Cathy at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

My mother-in-law Cathy at Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park

We finally made it to Kalispell and stayed at a family member’s condo.  They are winter Texans (or “Snow Birds”) and were still in south Texas so we had the condo to ourselves.  The view was beautiful, but I don’t think there is a view in Kalispell that isn’t beautiful!

View of the Rockies from our condo.

View of the Rockies from our condo.

I like to suggest and pick restaurants in new cities by their TripAdvisor rating so we ate at the #3 restaurant in Kalispell- Hop’s Downtown Grill.

Hop's Kalispell Review

And it exceeded out expectations!  Hop’s is a small restaurant but the ambiance is warm and cozy.  The staff is excellent, and all so attractive!  The menu was a little pricey, but Cathy wanted to celebrate Drew’s birthday so we enjoyed ourselves 🙂  Drew got the bison burger with homemade chips.  Cathy and I both got the beef tenderloins with rosemary garlic potatoes.  My goodness.   Had I left any sauce on the plate I would’ve licked it clean.  It was an incredible meal!

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic potatoes at Hop's

Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary and Garlic potatoes at Hop’s

We also went to the #5 restuarant in Kalispell- Sweet Peaks Homemade Ice Cream!   Delicious and so reasonably priced!  I got the Lime Curd and Shortbread.

Sweet Peaks Kalispell, MT

Sweet Peaks menu

Sweet Peaks menu

Lime Curd and Shortbread homemade ice cream from Sweet Peaks

Lime Curd and Shortbread homemade ice cream from Sweet Peaks

Kalispell is a really cute town.  I wish we had more time to explore the old downtown area.  It also seems like a lovely place to live.

Yarn Bombing in Kalispell!

Yarn Bombing in Kalispell!

 

Moose Bronze Sculpture, Kalispell, Montana

Our second day was wide open so we called up  Swan Mountain Snowmobiling to see if they had anything open.  I’m so glad we did!  We got their info from the local tourist guide and they squeezed us in for a 2-hour Snowmobile trip in the afternoon!  In the morning we went to Cabela’s and spent way more time there than we planned.  But I walked away with a new 7mm-08 rifle after making a trade 🙂  Anyways, we drove up north through Columbia Falls to the Canyon Creek Recreational Area where a lot of people enter the Snowmobile trails.  It was about 30 minutes from Kalispell.  We met our guide at the parking/staging area.  He distributed our rental gear (that included an avalanche beacon, jackets, snow pants, helmets, and even gloves if we needed them!).  He gave us a quick intro to how to drive a Snowmobile (or “sled” as its called in western Montana) and we hopped on.   It was the first time on a snowmobile for all of us!   It was a lot like driving an ATV but turning took some getting used to.  The machines were so light that you really had to use your body weight to help you turn.  We took off onto the trails.  It was so much fun!!  Our guide Shawn took us up and up and up.

Snowmobiling West Glacier

The red line is our Snowmobiling Track up the mountain into Kimmerly Basin and back down again!

View from my Snowmobile

View from my Snowmobile

On the trails!

On the trails!

We climbed 4,000 feet up to  to the Kimmerly basin which was over 6,000 feet.  The trails were the most fun.  The basin looked like a giant playground for snowmobiling.  Tracks everywhere!  Shawn brought us to the highest point to take pictures.

The top of Kimmerly Basin in a quick snow storm!

The top of Kimmerly Basin in a quick snow storm!

A snowmobiler's playground!

A snowmobiler’s playground!

 

Shawn showed us how deep the snow was when he pushed the 10-foot poll into the snow under our feet and it never touched ground!

The snow was over 10 feet deep!  And we were standing on it!

The snow was over 10 feet deep! And we were standing on it!

Shawn let us “play” in the basin and do whatever we wanted!  Which of course means we all got stuck.  Several times.  Mine was the worst.  I really dug the tracks deep trying to get out.  Then Shawn got his sled stuck trying to get me out!  It took about 30 minutes of pulling, pushing, digging and scraping but Drew and Shawn finally got my machine unstuck.  I was a little freaked out but Shawn stayed positive the whole time and even laughed about it.

My snowmobile stuck deep!

My snowmobile stuck deep!

I was done with the playground after all that!  The trail ride back to the staging area was awesome.  Shawn let us really cut it open on the straight-aways.  I got over 55mph (which I thought was CRAZY) but Drew passed me going 70!  Our total ride was 25 miles (up and back down the mountain).  By the time we got back we had definitely gone over our 2 hours and Shawn was such a great guide!  I highly recommend him and Swan Mountain Snowmobiling!

Snowmobiling Canyon Creek Recreation Area, West Glacier, Montana

After all the excitement of snowmobiling we crashed that evening!   Sore quads and backs.  But totally worth it for a check on the bucket list.  And that was just the beginning of our trip!  Stay tuned for more 🙂