If you are visiting our area of Whitefish, Montana or it’s surrounding areas like Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park then you perhaps one of these stunning drives will make your trip planning more convenient.
The National Bison Range is approximately a 2-1/2 hour drive from Good Medicine Lodge. You can take either take highway 93 along the west side of Flathead Lake or highway 35 on the east side of the lake. Highway 93 is a really relaxed drive that take you to towns like Somers, Lakeside, Big Arm and Polson. We stopped at a very cute antique store called Greystone Vintage Antiques Market conveniently located at a gas station. It is hands down the cutest antiques shop I have ever been to. Many of the towns have cute docks and look to be boating communities.
The highway 35 route takes you the cutest town called Big Fork where Flathead Brewery is located right on the lake. They also have a lot of art galleries and great shops if you are looking for sweet gifts to bring back home to your family and friends. Along this route you will also Wood Bay, Bear Dance and Finley Point.
As you travel to the Bison Range you will see Montana open up before your eyes. As we headed into the entrance, I could imagine a time before homes and modern civilization when people roamed by horseback down these deep valleys with open skies. It really is something to see. As you enter the park, you will need to take a quick pit stop at the visitor’s center to purchase a vehicle pass (ours was $10) and receive a map. They were sure to mention to us that there are two routes to take while visiting the park. One is a two hour tour with no turn arounds, You want to be absolutely sure you can make the lengthy trip around the park because you will have to commit to the full route with no exiting. The other way is the one we took because we were short on time. It was about 1 hour on a two-way road where you could choose to turn around anytime. The bison were abundant on this route and our kids absolutely loved parking next to the herds observing all their awesomeness. It was definitely a learning experience that took you back to the old western ways of Montana. We loved it and know you will too.
Kootenai Falls: Eureka > Libby > Kalispell >Whitefish
A beautiful scenic drive you can take from Good Medicine Lodge is about 4 hours total without stopping. So this would be a good all day adventure to plan to do with Kootenai Falls and the swinging bridge being about your halfway point. The town of Eureka located north of Whitefish taking highway 93 is your first destination only 8 miles from the Canadian border. From there you head west along highway 37 along Lake Koocanusa through Rexford. There are a few state parks to stop along the scenic bi-way. One of the stops we liked at the Lake Koocanusa Bridge, Montana’s longest bridge spanning 2,437 feet. The town of Libby is your next stop before Kootenai Falls. Known as the “City of Eagles”, Libby hosts several eagle sculptures can be found along various locations of Libby so have your camera ready.
From Libby, you will take highway 2 west toward The Kootenai Falls, which are the largest undammed falls in the state of Montana. It is not rare to find wildlife such as deer, big horn sheep, eagle, osprey, black bear and the occasional moose, elk and mountain lions. It is considered a sacred site and “center of the world” according to the Kootenai tribes people who once inhabited the area. The swinging bridge is located just a short walk from the parking lot and was featured in the 1994 movie “River Wild” and made famous in the 2015 movie “The Revenant (2015) – IMDb.”
The next stop back towards Whitefish will be to head back towards to Libby on highway 2 towards Kalispell. If you find yourself near Kalispell, MT around dinner time you can try to stop at Desoto Grille located just near the historical downtown. They are serving barbecue utilizing local Montana beef in a unique vintage car themed setting. It’s a not to miss, so try to call ahead for reservations if you can. Another fun hidden gem about 3 miles further down the road is a place called Whitefish Handcrafted Spirits. They used to be located in Whitefish but moved to Evergreen, which is just on the cusp of Kalispell. We found their home converted restaurant to be absolutely wonderful. They decorated their place in the Art Deco period utilizing antique furnishings and even the vintage glassware is filled with the most incredible tasting cocktails. The ultimate for us was their huckleberry burgers…..THE BEST!! We were literally licking our plates.
After dinner, it’s a short 15 minute drive back to Whitefish, MT to Good Medicine Lodge!