Guest post from TBEX North America 2019 Sponsor, Glacier Country Tourism
Autumn in Western Montana’s Glacier Country is a feast for the senses. From fall colors and flavors to crisp mountain air and vocal wildlife, this is one of Montana’s most magical times of year. It’s quiet, traffic is lighter, the crowds have dispersed and shoulder season prices have kicked in. Fall frolic abounds and harvest vibes take over the region’s charming small towns.
There’s no wrong time to take in the Western Montana landscape, but scenic drives pair well with Glacier Country’s golden season. Nine distinct travel corridors wind through the region, each one offering something unique, especially in the fall when a tapestry of golden hues pops against Montana’s big blue sky. Leaf peepers enjoy pulling over for fall hikes and fishing, and to explore some of Montana’s most vibrant communities. Chase the best fall colors mid-September through early October.
Seasonal ales, ciders, and pumpkin spiced lattes are just a few of the fall flavors to savor in Western Montana. Chefs and bakers around the state prefer to use fresh, local ingredients, so it’s pretty common for menus to change with the seasons. Breweries, distilleries and cideries here all have a heyday with the fall harvest. There’s a cornucopia of flavors for your taste buds at small-town farmers markets, too. The Whitefish Farmers Market is held through the end of September and the “Best of the West” Missoula Farmers Market stretches into late October. Fall market finds include root vegetables and winter squashes, in addition to the local meats, cheeses, preserves, fruits, vegetables, flowers and friendly folks you’ll find all market season long.
FLY-FISHING + FLOATING
October and November offer some of the year’s best trout fishing. Fall may as well be called “trophy trout season” in Montana. The rivers are quieter and there’s more room to cast a line. Good hatches are on tap and monster brown trout are spawning. Get out your mahoganies, midges and blue-winged olives for fall fly-fishing around Missoula on the magical blue-ribbon trout waters of the Blackfoot River, as well as on the Clark Fork River where rainbows are on the rise. Multiple fishing access sites lie along the beautiful Bitterroot River, so ready your mayflies, hoppers and worms. Or, try your hand at fall lake fishing on beautiful Whitefish Lake—also perfect for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding with 360-degree fall views.
The quintessential mountain resort town of Whitefish offers fine dining, boutiques and breweries, not to mention fall festivities. The Great Northwest Oktoberfest takes place late September and early October. Beer and bratwurst come together with keg hurling and stein holding competitions. Take in events like live theater from the Whitefish Theatre Company and AlpineTheater Project, enjoy jazz concerts, or stroll downtown Whitefish galleries open for evening tours and fall Gallery Nights. Whitefish Lake Golf Club is open through the end of October, and teeing up against the backdrop of a Montana autumn is unforgettable.
Known as Montana’s cultural hub, Missoula is chock-full of things to do, with shopping, incredible dining options, breweries and distilleries, and Montana’s finest music scene. After a day of outdoor adventure, visitors can wander through art museums, catch a play, and enjoy live shows at renowned venues all year long. Visit the KettleHouse Amphitheater for an early fall concert on the banks of the legendary Blackfoot River, or head downtown for big-name bands in an intimate setting at the historic Wilma Theater. University of Montana Grizzly Football pride is palpable this time of year, and locals grow eager to gear up for hunting season. Join in on the seasonal fun at annual events like Germanfest, Maverick Brewfest, Montana Fall Brewers Festival, and Montana Book Festival.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Just a short drive from the quaint towns of Whitefish and Kalispell is Glacier National Park—open year-round and encompassing more than 1 million acres of jaw-dropping landscapes. Fall in the park brings lovely temperatures, ideal wildlife watching during the fall rut, and fewer visitors, making it one of the most enjoyable times to visit. Boat cruises and hiking trails are less crowded this time of year and offer an intimate look at fall’s splendor. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is open—weather dependent—until mid-October, and it’s the perfect time to bike this bucket-list beauty.