Montana is a wide-open playground and Whitefish is no exception. To get some up-close views of Whitefish Montana wildlife and everything in between, head to these breathtaking destinations for a true wild land experience.
Bob Marshall Wilderness
Comprised of over 1.5 million acres, complete with towering mountain peaks, roaring waterfalls, and crystal-clear alpine lakes, Bob Marshall Wilderness in Flathead National Forest is a popular destination for hikers, backpackers, horseback riders, hunters, and fishermen. The ideal time to access the trails is July thru October. Another option to explore this majestic area is by rafting the Middle Fork of the Flathead. Keep your eyes peeled on your adventures though, as grizzly bears, gray wolves, lynx, bighorn sheep and cougars have all been spotted here.
Scapegoat & Great Bear Wildernesses
Also part of the Flathead National Forest, the Scapegoat Wilderness and Great Bear Wilderness areas are wonderful spots for hiking, horseback riding, camping and fishing. Their alpine meadows and dense coniferous forests are filled with moose, deer, elk, mountain goats and mountain sheep, wolves, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, trumpeter swans and pelicans. If you’re lucky, you may see a wolverine or mountain lion too. And there are plenty of black bears and grizzlies throughout both areas. Plan a visit to these sections of the National Forest if you’re a serious, experienced hiker looking for solitude and impressive mountain views.
Flathead National Forest
This national forest consists of 2.3 million acres of Whitefish Montana wildlife, extending the west side of the Continental Divid eand just south of the Canadian border. With over 2,500 miles of trail, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area is a favorite area among the locals. Visitors love exploring the Flathead River by canoe and even take advantage of some of the slower spots for some epic floating excursions. If the weather isn’t ideal, explore by way of scenic drive, taking advantage of over 1,700 miles of road to try to catch a glimpse of the bear, elk, moose, and Rocky Mountain goats that live in the area. This national forest is also a hot spot for winter sports, including skiing and snowshoeing.
National Bison Range
The National Bison Range provides a safe haven for approximately 300 to 500 shaggy buffalo. With 19,000 acres to roam freely in the grasslands and timber, bison aren’t the only ones who roam this land. Visitors might also catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, mule deer, coyote, elk, and Rocky Mountain goats. The Range is also a great spot for birders too, with western meadowlarks, bald eagles, rough-legged hawks and more. With one of the largest, remaining Intermountain grassland areas in the country, the Range is also home to wetlands, shrublands and forests.
Guests are encouraged to stop by the Visitors Center before roaming into the park where they can embark on a self-guided drive on Red Sleep Mountain Rd (a two-hour drive) or a shorter version on the Buffalo Prairie Drive (about 30 minutes).
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has it all: alpine meadows and dense forests, snowy mountains and stark rugged cliffs, pretty sparkling rivers, and cool, dark mountain lakes, and of course, glaciers! There is even a small area of wetlands, marshes and swamps in the park that are home to rare bog lemmings, beavers, ferns, and bladderworts. The Park has over 60 types of ferns, wildflowers (including the glacier lily, clematis, Indian pipes, and purple asters), and tons of cool lichens, mushrooms, fungi, mosses, and liverwort. There are banded geological formations on the reddish-brown or gray cliff faces and peaks. Forests with towering western red cedars, hemlock and cottonwoods are all around, and some trees along the Trail of Cedars are almost 500 years old!
Depending on where you are in Glacier, you might see Western painted turtles, bats (there are nine different bat species in the Park), grizzly bears and black bears (hopefully from a safe distance), beavers, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, elk and moose, lynx, and mountain lions (the largest cat in North America). Bald and golden eagles, common loons, northern hawk owls (a year-round resident), ospreys, and ptarmigans are just a few of the bird species that make the park a birder’s paradise. And, of course, there are the fish: lake trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, Yellowstone cutthroat throat, and grayling swim through the park’s lakes and streams.
Plus, you can see the aurora borealis all year long in the park!
Whitefish Montana Wildlife – Whitefish Lake
Whitefish Lake is nearly six miles long, offering plenty of space for exploration and enjoyment, especially during warmer months. There are mountainous peaks providing the perfect backdrop to the mature woodlands, but also sandy beached optimal for cooling off in the crystal-clear waters. Boating, swimming, and fishing are popular pastimes here. With multiple boat rental agencies in the area, guests can paddle board, kayak, canoe, pedal boat, or even make their way by pontoon or jet ski. Contact us!