Wrapped around this fertile mountain valley are abrupt mountains on three sides and Flathead Lake to the south, which is the largest fresh-water body of water west of the Mississippi River. The shelter of the mountains combined with the temperature control of Flathead Lake and the many other lakes in the valley create a milder climate than most towns at 48 degrees north latitude. This temperate climate is part of what makes the Flathead Valley so special with niche crops like cherries, canola, Christmas trees and champagne grapes as well as barley, oats, wheat and potatoes. Cherry stands along Flathead Lake, wines from the Mission Mountain Winery or wild huckleberries are all treats for your palate from the Flathead Valley.
Famed for being an all-season recreational area, the Flathead Valley has it all. Every season has unique opportunities for pleasure and play.
Winter is a time for snow skiing, cross country skiing or snowmobiling. The Flathead Valley boasts two snow ski resorts, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area and Whitefish Mountain Resort. Ice fishing is a popular activity on the many lakes in the valley that freeze over each winter. Whatever the activity, the Flathead Valley is a serene winter wonderland accented by a soft blanket of snow gently laid upon the valley’s rolling hills and the surrounding mountain peaks.
As the snow melts and the valley residents begin to stir, the tulips and lilacs bloom. The many flowering trees bud and the valley becomes green again. Springtime brings high water runoffs and the Bigfork Whitewater Festival. Residents dust off their bicycles, outdoor equipment and hiking boots to gear up for the summer. They dodge the spring rains to get out and play due to enthusiastic anticipation of the summer weather and activities.
Summers in the Flathead Valley are as good as it gets. The daytime average temperature is a perfect 70-85º F. Summertime activities include hiking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, swimming, horseback riding, sightseeing, rock-climbing and water sports. The Flathead Valley is encompassed by over 3 million acres of designated wilderness area. Included in that number is the one-million-acre Glacier National Park. The Whitefish Mountain Resort also offers summer recreation on the Big Mountain such as hiking, mountain biking, zip-lines, tree-top walk tour and downhill luge. Golf is another summer pastime with nine championship courses throughout the valley.
Autumn often arrives as an Indian Summer with temperatures lingering at summer levels. The many deciduous trees transform from vibrant greens to yellows, oranges and reds. The Flathead Valley’s autumnal colors rival the east coast displays but are also riddled with coniferous species who do not change.
No matter what time of year, the Flathead Valley is a phenomenal place to live or vacation. The scenery is matched only by the down to earth nature of the valley residents. The unique festive communities ware part of the charm of living in this “last best place”.
Visit the Flathead Valley Visitor Bureau for more information.