They say Montana is the last best place on earth. The people of the Flathead Valley claim their home is the last best place in Montana. (But, shhhh, that’s kind of a secret.) With a population of approximately 22,000 people (2015 census), Kalispell finds itself at the center of the Flathead Valley. As a popular destination for tourism, recreation, and even retirement, Kalispell has earned its well loved reputation.
Bordered by the Rocky Mountains and a mere 31 miles from the West entrance of Glacier National Park, it would take a lifetime to exhaust the limits of Kalispell’s beauty. Surrounded by stunning lakes and clear rivers, the kayaking, rafting, canoeing, and fishing opportunities are endless. Hiking trails are close by in nearly every direction. There are 200 miles of groomed snowmobile tracks for winter-time adventures. The Rails-to-Trails system is an amazing place to bring out your bikes and explore the area. However, if you did manage to wear out the paths closer to town, Glacier Park has over 700 miles of hiking trails that are sure to keep you busy.
Kalispell locals love the accessibility of having so many superb outdoor recreational sites so near their homes. Not only is Glacier Park nearby, Hungry Horse Reservoir, a favorite picnicking and boating area, is only 22 miles from city limits. Whitefish Mountain Resort and Blacktail Mountain Ski Area, the two ski mountains within the valley, lie just 22 miles north and 18 miles south, respectively. Nine miles from Kalispell, Flathead Lake (27 miles by 15 miles) holds the title for being the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.
Out of a total of 27 public parks, 13 are captured within Kalispell City limits. Woodland Park, in particular, is a favorite for the local residents. You can take a mile long walk around Woodland’s bird pond, feed cracked corn to the ducks, or hold a picnic with friends near the playground. During the winter, the Woodland Ice Rink is available for free skating, or you can sign your children up for a hockey team. Summertime might even find you down at the Woodland Water Park enjoying the lazy river and some waterslides.
Do you enjoy local history? Kalispell has a rich amount of history just waiting for you to discover. Conrad Mansion, the home of one of the Flathead’s founding families, has been turned into a delightful museum. Full house tours are available from June through October. Plus, don’t forget to check out the Central School Museum in downtown Kalispell, or the Hockaday Museum of Art, also in downtown Kalispell. Locals are passionate about preserving these buildings and the history that accompanies them.
Medical resources are healthy in the valley. Between Kalispell Regional Medical Center and North Valley Hospital in Whitefish, the Flathead Valley is equipped with the resources to handle emergencies, maternity services, surgeries, and more. This is not only ideal for patients, but it also allows medical personnel opportunities to work with cutting-edge technologies.
Another exceptional resource the Flathead has to offer is the Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC). FVCC boasts being able to provide over 100 world class academic programs, rivaling many of the United States top universities, while still managing to take considerably less out of your pocketbook.
Due to the topography, Western Montana has a relatively mild climate. The average July temperature in Kalispell hits a high of 80 degrees with a low of 49 degrees. In January that average drops to a high of 31 degrees with a low 18 degrees. The average rainfall is 16 inches, and the average snowfall is 56 inches.
So, is Montana the last best place on earth? Is the Flathead Valley the best place in Montana? Plan that trip to Kalispell, and you’ll find out for yourself.
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