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Ready to plan a day on the water and enjoy the wild and scenic rivers? Well, you came to the right place! Columbia Falls has ample access to rivers, lakes, streams, and ponds. Whether you fish, boat, or float there is an option for you.
Right in the city of Columbia Falls, if you head to Rivers Edge Park you will find a stocked fishing pond for kids, a beautiful walking trail, and access to the Flathead River so you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Also in town is a public pool that is open during the summer season.
If rivers are more your style, the Flathead River flows right through Columbia Falls and offers some of the best fishing and floating around. Let us tell you a little more about planning your own trip or taking a guided trip with a licensed outfitter!
Here are a few suggestions for planning your own trip:
When leaving Columbia Falls, head east to the public boat launch in West Glacier, Montana located near the West Glacier Golf Course. Once you put your floating device in the water, get ready for an exciting day. You will float down the Middle Fork of the Flathead until you join up with the North Fork of the Flathead. Continue on and right in Columbia Falls, as soon as you go under the bridge to Columbia Falls, on the right is the Teakettle put it on and take out. Looking for a shorter trip? We suggest putting in at the Blankenship Bridge, which is north of Columbia Falls, and taking out at Teakettle.
A few tips for floating/rafting on your own:
Not sure about floating on your own? Not a problem! There are multiple commercial raft companies in the area with deep knowledge of our rivers. Let the experts plan your day so you can relax and fully enjoy it. You can arrange a two hour, four hour or longer overnight raft/float trips or a guided fishing trip.
Visit our business directory to find a guided outfitter that will work for you.
Photo Credit: Hungry Horse Newspaper
Discover Glacier National Park
Only have one day to discover Glacier? Well, the good news is that it can be done, it just depends on the type of experience you are looking for. If you are looking to see as much as possible, we would suggest an Historic Red Bus tour. This is an amazing way to see and learn about Glacier. You will sit back in a restored 1930 touring bus as the driver winds his way thru the park you will hear the history, and information about the park. There are several tours ranging from 4 – 8 hours. When you book a red bus tour, you also don't have to worry about getting a vehicle reservation.
We also have recommendations for exploring Glacier National Park on your own. First, make sure you have your vehicle reservation and park pass. More details on that can be found here.
Now that you have your required passes, drive east 20 minutes from Columbia Falls, Montana on highway 2. Head to the west entrance of Glacier Notional Park located by West Glacier. Before you enter the park, make sure you have plenty of water, durable shoes and attire, picnic food, bear spray and sunscreen. Bear spray can be rented inside the park at Apgar Village if you forget!
Once you enter at the west entrance, be sure to stop in at the Apgar Visitor Center as you will find endless information on the park. Once inside Glacier you will have the opportunity to take the iconic, scenic drive over the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Plan for this drive to take approximately 3-4 hours without stops, although we do recommend stopping. One place that is accessible for all is the Trail of the Cedars. It is the only trail in the park that is wheel chair accessible. Along the trail you will find western hemlocks, red cedars, a footbridge over Avalanche Creek and beautiful views. Don't forget your camera!
After you get back in your vehicle, continue on the Going-to-the-Sun Road to the top where you will want to stop at Logan Pass . The visitor center is located at the highest point along the infamous road. This is the perfect place to eat that picnic lunch you brought! After lunch, continue on to St. Mary's and then hit highway 2 and it will take you back to Columbia Falls.
After a long day of hiking and driving, be sure to stop for dinner at one of the local restaurants located in West Glacier, Hungry Horse, Coram, or Columbia Falls. View the Chamber's member directory now to find the perfect place that sounds good to you!
Outdoor Fun & Education
For this day trip, you will want to start by preparing a scrumptious picnic and grabbing a few water toys as today we are leaving Columbia Falls and heading 7 short miles east to Hungry Horse, Montana.
Start with a stop at the Glacier View/Hungry Horse Forest Service Office, located at 10 Hungry Horse Drive, Hungry Horse, Montana (406-387-3800). There you will find information on everything to do with our local and national forests. They also have information for kids to learn from and the options to purchase maps and books.
Now with your map in hand head towards Hungry Horse Dam. Follow the signs off Highway 2 that lead you to the Hungry Horse Dam visitor center. Once on this road, in about 1 mile you’ll find the cutest little lake, Lion Lake. It is about 35 acres in size and is nestled among the trees. Access to Lion Lake is easily accessible for all ages and is also ADA accessible. There is a great beach area, bathrooms, and picnic areas. This is the perfect place to play with those water toys you brought and have an afternoon picnic.
After lunch, continue on a few more miles to the Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir. There is a visitor center open during the summer and features exhibits on the construction, history of the dam, its purpose, and its benefits. Guided walking tours are often available during the summer too. While at the visitor center, you can look down over the massive concrete structure and experience the flow of water below.
If you continue driving across the dam, you will find several campgrounds available for recreation. For those seeking a longer drive, you can drive the 112-mile loop around the reservoir. A word of caution, the pavement ends after a few miles.
Now as you head home make sure you stop in Hungry Horse for a famous Huckleberry Ice Cream cone or maybe a piece of pie. Either way, you can’t go wrong. As you head west towards Columbia Falls experience the breathtaking sunsets over the Flathead River.
Continue following our blog for other day trip recommendations.
If you're planning a trip to Glacier National Park, we have some suggestions for things for you to do inside and outside of Glacier. Glacier National Park is a beautiful, unforgettable place to visit. Plan to spend a few days exploring the park during your trip, but also plan a few days to experience other activities outside of Glacier National Park. The City of Columbia Falls, Montana is located only 20 minutes from the West Entrance to Glacier National Park. We have many local businesses, guides, outfitters restaurants, and activities here that will turn your great vacation into a spectacular vacation.
If you love hiking, make sure to check out the hidden trails that aren't as popular. They'll take you to some amazing viewpoints and give you a whole new perspective of our area. These trails include the Cedar Flatts Recreational Area, Flathead National Forest Land, and other trails our locals enjoy too, many of which are year-round.
If you're more into horseback riding, you're in luck! There are tours that'll take you through the beautiful landscapes surrounding Glacier National Park. It's a great way to soak up the vibe and enjoy nature.
For those of you who like a bit of a thrill, many exciting activities are nearby, and options are available year-round. You can try white-water rafting, guided fishing, biking, snowshoeing, and other outdoor adventures. Get ready to feel your heart racing!
But if you're looking for something more peaceful, you might want to check out our local parks and river access points that are close to Glacier National Park or join us on a Thursday evening, September-May, at our community market. We would also recommend a drive to the Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir. Pack a picnic lunch and be prepared to view one of the prettiest views you will see!
And finally, let's talk about food. A great travel experience includes great food, and you'll be happy to know that there are some amazing culinary experiences to be had near Glacier National Park in the towns of West Glacier, Coram, Hungry Horse, and Columbia Falls. Think farm-to-table meals, delicious breweries, huckleberry treats, coffee shops, and locally owned, small businesses you can’t find anywhere else. Yum!
Whatever your preferred way of traveling is, we have it for you! Keep following our blog for more detailed posts on the above information!
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PO Box 312
Columbia Falls, MT
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