BEST WESTERN PLUS Flathead Lake Inn and Suites – Kalispell, MT

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When you stay at our Kalispell hotel, not only do you stay at a clean, well-maintained rooms, with great amenities and a good central location, but you also stay with people who care!

Our Standard Two Queen Room

Our Standard Two Queen Room

Location, Location, Location

Skiing at Blacktail Mountain, spending a day indulging in outdoor recreation at Glacier National Park , or exploring your favorite shopping areas are all short drives from our Kalispell hotel.  We are centrally located in the Flathead Valley on the South end of Kalispell, between Bigfork, Kalispell and Lakeside.

Flathead Lake is just a short drive away and a prime spot for water recreation. The mountains are a beautiful backdrop for a fun day filled with boating, skiing, fishing or hiking. From the incredible annual Dragon Boat Festival to the incredible golfing in the region, nearly every outdoor sport you can imagine is close to our Kalispell hotel.  Our hotel is the perfect place to rest and relax after a long day of adventure or work.

Top Amenities

Our 24-hour indoor pool provides guests with a perfect place to relax. Our friendly staff is committed to making sure every guest’s stay is comfortable, and every morning is kicked off right with a free hot breakfast. The buffet selection includes biscuits and gravy, sweet rolls, waffles, eggs, sausage, and Montana hot apple oatmeal. Complete your meal with chilled juices or 100% Arabica coffee.  We also include FREE high-speed wifi throughout the building!

Business Travelers and Groups

This Kalispell hotel offers a meeting space, and we’re a top choice for wedding groups and business travelers. Some of our regular guests are employees of AT&T, Plum Creek, Applied Materials and the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Whether you’re here on business or in town for a special event, it’s important that you have the space necessary to take care of everything.

Reserve a well-appointed room at BEST WESTERN PLUS Flathead Lake Inn and Suites, where guests are close to all the top destinations!

The Glacier National Park Family Photos, Group Pictures and Selfies Conundrum

The Glacier National Park Family Photos, Group Pictures and Selfies Conundrum

The hikers coming up the trail looked nice enough, maybe they would take our picture.  Eight of us sat relaxing overlooking the Two Medicine Valley.  Eight people from five different countries.  The chances of us all being in the same place again were slim to none and we needed a picture to document the occasion.   So we asked the first group of hikers coming up the trail and they were kind enough to consent.  One of our group members, a trained photographer, handed the lead hiker her $900- camera and he snapped a couple photos.  The hikers continued up the trail while our photographer examined his work.  Apparently it didn’t cut it, because she set up a rock tripod and timer on her camera a couple more times until the moment was sufficiently memorialized.
This is not an uncommon situation.  I have often struggled with how to take the best group photo, especially when scenery is involved.  When visiting a place as picturesque as Glacier National Park, people generally want to have equally outstanding pictures of themselves, family and friends with a great back-drop.  This can be hard to pull off.  There are three methods for taking group pictures that people typically try.  Some work in certain situations but all of them have downsides. I have listed the basic methods, pros and cons below. At the bottom of the page there are a couple pointers that will help you make the most of every group photo opportunity.
1. Basic Selfie – The person taking the picture extends their arm out, turns the camera toward the group and pushes the button.
    • Pros: Easy to take multiple photos, good resolution on people’s faces, does not require additional technology (tripod) or people (a volunteer photographer), can be done with any camera phone.
Classic Selfie
  • Cons: Pictures are facebook-worthy but not frame-worthy, its difficult to adequately capture a large group, scenery is a secondary consideration, you can always tell that the picture was a selfie.
2. Tripod Timer – The person taking the picture puts their camera on a tripod (a large professional one, a gorilla pod or even a flat rock), sets a timer and then runs back to where the rest of the group is standing before the timer goes off and the picture is taken.
Gorilla Pod Photo
  • Pros: Can produce frame and Christmas-card quality photos, allows for multiple attempts as long as your group is patient, can be done without an additional person (volunteer photographer)
  • Cons: Tripods can fall down or cameras can fall off in windy situations, it can be difficult to get the right angle (unless you have a large tripod which is cumbersome to carry), the photographer must run back to his/her spot in the photo, a tripod cannot make sure everyone is smiling.
3. Volunteer Photographer – You find a random stranger and ask him/her to take a picture of your group.
Volunteer Photographer Photo
  • Pros: The photographer can make sure everything looks good, they can adjust for better angles, they can take multiple photos quickly.
  • Cons: The photographer may have no sense of photography, he/she has no motivation to care about the picture they’re taking of you and your group, its awkward to ask them to re-take your photo, sometimes there are no potential photographers where you want to take a group picture.

Best Solutions:
The Skilled, Incentivized Photographer- If there are a few people in the area where you are taking your group photo, pick the one with the nicest camera and offer to trade photography duties (you take his/her picture they take yours).  This way you are picking the most skilled person (generally) and they have an incentive to do it well.

Carry Backup- Always take a gorilla pod tripod with you.  They are small, can grab onto rocks or trees to resist wind and are a good option if there are no volunteer photographers present.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Grizzly Bear Attacks in Glacier National Park

We watched with a mixture of concern and amusement as the situation unfolded before our eyes.  We were near the top of Siyeh Pass, looking at the glacial lake below us.  Nearly half a mile away, a hiker was walking around to the far side of the lake, possibly with the intention of sliding down the snow field into the freezing water.  Walking from the other direction, across the scree field nearest the snow, was what appeared to be a large grizzly (through binoculars).  Neither the bear, nor the hiker could see that they were about to have a close encounter.

They both saw each other at the same time and they had to have been within 100 feet when it happened.  Fortunately for the hiker, the grizzly reacted by turning around and heading up the rock slide away from the hiker.  Even though the hiker was a small dot from our vantage point, he seemed to move with incredible speed as he ran back around the lake.  I’ve never seen someone so far away move so fast.

Millions of people visit Glacier National Park every year and only a small handful will have the kind of encounter that this visitor did.  But grizzly bears and black bears are present in Glacier so here are a few facts and tips to put you at ease and help keep you safe in the event of a bear encounter.

  • Fact: The last fatal bear attack in Glacier National Park was in 1998 even though the number of bears has increased since then.
  • Tip:Never run from a bear
  • Fact: Bear spray is much more effective than a gun.
  • Tip: Check the expiration date, practice taking the safety off, keep it easily accessible and visualize spraying a Z-pattern at a bear if he/she charges!
  • Fact: Most fatal bear attacks happen to lone hikers or groups of two and there are no recorded bear attacks against groups of 6 or more.
  • Tip: If you make noise while on the trail, you probably won’t surprise a bear
  • Fact: Bears stand on their hind legs to get a better view of what has caught their attention
  • Tip: If they are defensive (stomping and huffing), back away slowly.
  • Fact: Bears have good eyesight and can see in color.
  • Tip: If they are aggressive (approaching you silently and swiftly), get loud and big!
  • Fact: People who use guns against bears are more than twice as likely to incur serious injury than people who use bear spray in the event of an attack.
  • Tip: Never get between a mother and her cub(s)!
  • Fact: Grizzly bears can outrun horses over short distances!
  • Tip:Know the difference between grizzlies and black bears
  • Fact: 3 people die from bears every year….90 people die by being struck by lightening
  • Tip: In the unlikelihood you are attacked play dead if you’re attacked by a grizzly and fight back if you’re attacked by a black bear

Be bear aware but don’t let it keep you from hiking.  Chances are you won’t have a bear encounter and if you follow the tips above, the chances of the encounter turning into a bear attack are about as small as…..all the glaciers being around in GNP 100 years from now!

Iceberg Lake Glacier National Park -The Family-Friendly 10- Mile Hike

 

Iceberg Lake Glacier National Park- the family friendly 10-mile hike

With so many day-hikes to choose from you might think Montanans never hike the same trail in Glacier twice.  However, some hikes in Glacier are worth repeating and Iceberg Lake is definitely one of them.  About 2 weeks ago, I hiked up to Iceberg Lake for the 3rd time and yet again I was blown away by the captivating rugged amphitheater that holds this classic glacial lake.The trail takes you up a sweeping glacial valley, offering views of several rugged mountains.  The slopes above the trail stay green most of the summer and you can often see bighorn sheep and mountain goats grazing or bedding down during the heat of the day.  A little past mid-way you will cross a small babbling falls with several large flat rocks which are perfect for a lunch or snack stop (don’t worry, there is a bridge over the falls).  Right before the lake, there are a few snow fields that remain until late July (depending on the year) but they are very navigable and do not have steep pitches.

It is possibly the easiest 10-mile hike in Glacier which gives it unique appeal to many families whose kids are ready for longer days but would tire with a steep incline.  The gradual down-hill slope makes it manageable for those with bad joints as well.   I have seen eight-year-olds make it to the lake as well as people in their seventies.  It is not a short hike, but it is doable for many people and worthwhile fore everyone.
You can reach the trail by going to the Swift Current trailhead/store area.  There is plenty of parking.  If you can, park so your car is shaded during the heat of the day.  Also, keep in mind, the store offers great refreshments but is not open until mid-June, so don’t bank on getting Gatorade there like we did if you’re hiking before the 16th of June.

Hiking in Two Medicine- Glacier National Park

Hiking in the Two Medicine Glacier National Park

You’ve looked forward to your Montana vacation for months.  You’re finally at the entrance to Glacier National Park and to your dismay you find out you can’t actually access Logan Pass and all the hikes in the central part of Glacier!?!  What are you supposed to do now?  Twiddle your thumbs in your Kalispell hotel room?

Rest assured, you’re not the first person to be disappointed by the late opening of Going-to-the-Sun Road.  But this blog is not about problems, its about solutions.  Its time for an off-the-beaten-path approach!
Twin Falls
The Two Medicine trailhead is just over 2 hours from Kalispell.  It is the least traveled paved-entrance to Glacier National Park, but not for lack of great scenic hikes.  Here are three hikes and brief descriptions of them (all mileages include round-trip).
Running Eagle Falls- .6 miles.  Stunning waterfall.  Trail head is just after the main entrance.  A hike/walk everyone can do!
 
Upper Two Medicine Lake
Upper Two Medicine Lake- 2.3 miles if you use ferry or 9.6 without ferry.  Main trail is relatively flat and travels around the north side of Middle Two Medicine Lake.  Stunning views on both sides and wildlife sightings on the north side of the trail.  At the end of the lake the trail merges with the trail from the boat dock (where you’d come from if you take the ferry).  It climbs a little on the way to Upper Two Medicine Lake, but the grade is fairly shallow.  You can also do a 100 yard side trip to Twin Falls, my personal favorite waterfall in Glacier!  The whole time you’ll be able to see the sweeping glacial valleys and the gorgeous red/purple rock in the upper strata.  This hike is great as it gives you options for the whole family (short or long hike with the help of the ferry).
 
Bighorn Sheep near Scenic Point
Scenic Point- 7.9 Miles. This hike climbs 2300 ft but the views are worth it.  Switchbacks along a shale-like slope for most of the hike.  A short section that is pretty steep and then a flat walk across the top to where the views are best.  It is a great place for 360 views of the plains and Glacier at the same time.  Bighorn Sheep are frequently on the trail or up higher.  This hike can also be done as a loop back to East Glacier.
Other Worthwhile Hikes
There are several other hikes that are more difficult (longer and steeper) but equally rewarding in or near the Two Medicine entrance including: Dawson Pass, Firebrand Pass and Pitamakan/Dawson.  See hike734.com for more details!
More than Hiking
In addition to the hiking, you can drive over Looking Glass Pass just north of East Glacier for spectacular views (probably the least traveled scenic drive in Glacier Country).  The Two Medicine campground is picturesque with pick-nick spots along the river.  Serranos serves some of the best Mexican food in Glacier Country and is located in East Glacier.  If it is raining or you just need a relaxing afternoon, try the “Big Tree” Lodge in East Glacier for a relaxing afternoon of listening to live music near the fireplace.
All these options and it will take you  less time to get there than if you went to Logan Pass?! Yes!  Two Medicine is where its at if Logan Pass is still closed!

Written by Matt Harrington- Marketing Specialist at the BestWestern Plus Flathead Lake Inn and Suites

Going-to-the-Sun Options

“Really!?!  That’s the third shuttle!”

We were all frustrated as we watched yet another shuttle full of hikers pull out and head up toward Logan Pass.  We had parked at “the Loop” in hopes of getting a shuttle to the top of Logan Pass so we could hike the famed Highline Trail back down to our car.  Many of us had waited 45 minutes and seen three full shuttles go by.  Our small group of three and another group of two had a time crunch in the afternoon so without wasting more time we set off to hike the Highline Trail in reverse.  We found out later, the next shuttle arrived within ten minutes of our departure with several open seats. But by then we were long gone, enjoying the scenery, making record time and getting a great work-out while doing it.  We made it to Logan Pass, shuttled back down to our cars and arrived back to town in time to see our new niece.

The Highline Trail- one of the most congested hikes in Glacier

The Highline Trail- one of the most congested hikes in Glacier

A record 2.34 Million people visited Glacier National Park last year!  While that may be good news for area businesses that cater to tourists, those of us who want to travel on the famed Going-to-the-Sun scenic highway may find the roadway a little crowded.  The road is becoming so crowded that Park officails recently asked for public comment on five different proposals designed to lower congestion.  Several of the proposals include provisions for expansion of the shuttlesystem and one shuts it down entirely.  A couple of the proposals implement a reservation system for Going-to-the-Sun Highway during July and August.  Two of the proposals also include a provision for bike only days.  Whichever one they choose, it will likely look very different in a couple years, but none of these changes will take place until 2017.
The pull-off at Siyeh Bend

The pull-off at Siyeh Bend

So what does all this congestion mean for you, coming to Glacier this summer?  Well, you essentially have 4 choices: park shuttles, personal vehicle, cycling or the Red Bus Tour.

In spite of the wait time sometimes involved, park shuttles are your most reliable option if you want to hike for a few hours.  This is because once you’re on the shuttle; you don’t have to look for parking.  If you take your personal vehicle and can’t find parking you don’t have the option of circling around to vulture-park because the road is too narrow to turn around!

The best part about driving your personal vehicle is that you can actually stop and take pictures if (and that’s a big if) there’s an open pull-out.  You also have the option of driving through Logan Pass (meaning you don’t have to come back the way you came).  Besides the uncertain parking situation, another downside is that the driver usually doesn’t enjoy the scenery because the narrow, congested, high-consequence road demands most of his attention.

Until they have bike only days, your best bet cycling is in the early and late hours of daylight (I have friends who bike up under the light of the full moon).  I have never biked on the road during heavy traffic, but I pray for bikers that do.

The Red Bus Tour (and by bus I mean four rows of seating) is probably the best sight-seeing option.  The drivers are informed, engaging and even funny.  There aren’t quite as many photo opportunities as if you drive yourself, but if the bus is stopped(as it often is due to traffic and construction)  you can stand up and take a picture because the roof is retracted (weather permitting).

Written by Matt Harrington- Marketing Specialist at the BestWestern Plus Flathead Lake Inn and Suites

Spring Hikes in Glacier National Park

Spring Hikes in Glacier

When hiking in Montana in the spring, you never really know what to expect.  You might have great trail for three miles, then mud, then ice, then six inches of snow and then back to great trail.  The weather could be equally erratic: rainy, sunny and snowy all in the same day.  But despite the obstacles, the long winter and the recent sunny days are an irresistible lure for hikers to return to the mountains.  What follows are three hikes (one may require snow shoes) that can be done in either early spring or late spring.

Apgar Lookout:

This is one of the best accessible hike-with-a-view in early spring and it is a stunner.  After going through the main West Glacier entrance, you drive about half a mile and turn left on the road marked for Apgar Lookout.  The road ends in a parking lot at the trail head.  The hike starts out in trees and then goes through a burnt area with a couple pretty long switchbacks, it then winds around the front of the mountain to the lookout and a spectacular view of Lake McDonald and the mountains that climb up behind it to Logan Pass.  While the lookout is obviously not open in the spring, it makes for a great spot to eat lunch from and take in the amazing views.  My wife and I went up in late February and snow shoes were necessary for about half the hike.  That being said, the trail receives a lot of sun so by late March it should be hike-able the entire distance.  Round trip the hike is 7.1 miles.

Bowman Lake:

Yes, you can just drive here in the summer, but before the dirt road leading to Bowman Lake (from Polebridge) is open, Bowman Lake is a worthwhile hike.  The hike up has a mild elevation gain and is in the trees for about two thirds of the time.  It opens up at the campground and the view of Bowman is surprisingly stunning.  It is a long lake, stretching back with pristine mountains behind and around it.  My wife and I hiked there in early March and it was still frozen over.  I think that is the largest frozen body of water I have ever seen.   Snow shoes were not necessary, although Yak Tracks would have been advisable.

Trout Lake:

This hike is definitely a later spring hike but is worth your time before Going-to-the-Sun is open.  Simply drive to the end of Lake McDonald and take the first road to your left at the end of the lake.  Go over the bridge along the dirt road which will eventually end at the trailhead.  The hike has some substantial elevation gain, but the reward is seeing down a large glacial valley that few have the opportunity to see.  The lake itself is crystal clear.  The first time I went with my wife, we saw lunes cruise under-water after small trout and it was fascinating to watch.  Sometimes avalanches hit the trail pretty hard during the winter, so you might have to find the trail again after an avalanche chute.  The round trip mileage is less than 8 miles but the elevation gain makes it a demanding hike.  Alternatively, you can hike to the top of the first ridge and have a great view of Lake McDonald and then return to your vehicle.

Final thoughts:

Avalanche Lake is another late spring hike, but I already mentioned it in another blog.  Also, keep in mind the uncertainty of trail conditions and changing weather.  Bring yak tracks and warm and water-proof clothes.

Staycation!

Standard Staycation Package

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  • One night stay in our standard 2 queen room with 42″ flat-screen tv!
  • Includes $30 Gift Card to the Tamarack!
  • Packages start at $110 plus tax!
  • Includes full, hot, Montana breakfast
  • 24 hour pool and hot-tub
  • Subject to availability so call 1-406-857-2400 to reserve your room today!
Deluxe Staycation PackageSuite with firplace tv couch and chairs big copy_opt
  • One night stay in our Blacktail Suite which includes: jetted tub, flat-screen tv, king sleigh bed, wet bar, gas fireplace and pullout sofa!
  • $30 Gift Card to the Tamarack!
  • $140 plus tax!
  • Includes full, hot, Montana breakfast
  • 24 hour pool and hot-tub
  • Subject to availability so call 1-406-857-2400 to reserve your room today!
Call to reserve your package today!  1-406-857-2400 You must mention “Staycation Promo” to receive discount. Offer subject to availability.  Offer is not valid on stays after 4/30/15.  Offer is not valid with any other discounts.
 
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