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Whitefish calls itself the “recreation capital of Montana.” It’s a likely enough claim, what with the town’s 3,033-foot setting at the base of a major ski mountain some 40 miles from Glacier National Park. Whitefish, where tree stumps were pulled from muddy city streets for so long that it earned the nickname of Stumptown, is now a major tourist destination. Whitefish Mountain (formerly known as Big Mountain) has become a top-notch ski area, and many of those skiers return for summertime visits, when the mountain provides good places to hike, mountain bike, pick huckleberries, or explore the tree canopy. But, before the first chairlift was ...

Whitefish calls itself the “recreation capital of Montana.” It’s a likely enough claim, what with the town’s 3,033-foot setting at the base of a major ski mountain some 40 miles from Glacier National Park. Whitefish, where tree stumps were pulled from muddy city streets for so long that it earned the nickname of Stumptown, is now a major tourist destination. Whitefish Mountain (formerly known as Big Mountain) has become a top-notch ski area, and many of those skiers return for summertime visits, when the mountain provides good places to hike, mountain bike, pick huckleberries, or explore the tree canopy. But, before the first chairlift was ever erected, the train was an important part of Whitefish's existence — creating ways to get the logs out — and the train is still a wonderful way to get here: the old Northern Pacific depot, styled along the same lines as the Glacier Park chalet hotels, is an active Amtrak stop. Even if you're not particularly interested in hiking or trains, downtown Whitefish is an upscale place with good restaurants and shopping.

Judy Jewell
About the Expert

Judy Jewell and W.C. McRae are frequent collaborators: together they have written Moon Handbooks to Montana, Utah, and Zion-Bryce and updated the Moon Handbooks to Oregon and Coastal Oregon. Judy wrote the Compass American Guide to Oregon.

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Judy Jewell for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Wintertime is bustling, but there's plenty of action in the summer, too, when the town fills up with visitors to Glacier National Park. Don't expect to find much action in spring or fall.