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Whitefish, Montana Travel Guide
Last Updated: Mar-02-2014, Hits: 2,297, Rating: 0, Reviews: 0, Votes: 0 Bookmark and Share
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Whitefish, Montana Travel Guide Hotels and Lodging (36)
Restaurants (42)
Bars and Nightlife (16)
Attractions (22)
Services (0)
Maps (0)
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Location: North America
Geography: Mountains, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Moderate Tourism
Costs: Budget, Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Golfing, Scenery, Camping, Fishing, Hiking, Rafting

Facts and Stats:
Population: 6,357
Land Area: 4.5 square miles
Elevation: 3,028 feet
Country Dialing Code: 1
Area Code: 406
Languages: English
Electricity: 110V
Currency: US Dollar
Time Zone: Mountain: UTC -7/-6
Current Time:

Whitefish is a small and quaint mountain town in Northwestern Montana, complete with a main street and clapboard store fronts. Whitefish is located next to a top notch ski resort (Whitefish Mountain Resort) that is consistently ranked among the best not only in the nation, but in the world.

The town of Whitefish is small - about 4 square miles, with about 6,000 residents. The numbers soar during the summer and winter months when tourists flock to Whitefish for the winter skiing and summer hiking, biking and fishing. Whitefish is quite popular because it combines small town charm with high quality outdoor adventure and big city amenities.

Whitefish is in Flathead County, located at the north end of Flathead valley in Northwestern Montana, and is about 3 hours south of the Canadian border. The town and valley are surrounded by mountains and national forests. The valley provides insulation from extreme climate changes, making it more moderate in temperature than other parts of Montana. It is on the western side of the Continental Divide in the Northern Rockies, and is flanked by the Whitefish Mountain Range.

The town itself is on the shores of Whitefish lake, which is it's namesake, and the largest freshwater lake west of the Mississippi. There are many more lakes surrounding the area and both Whitefish and Flathead rivers close by. It is 25 minutes west of beautiful Glacier National Park and is nestled at the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort. The Resort is about 3,000 acres of mountain and powdery snow.

Brief History:
The majority of Montana was incorporated as United States territory with the Louisiana Purchase, bought by the United States from the French in April of 1803. The remaining portion was acquired from the British in 1846. Montana officially became a state in 1864. At the time Montana was, like most states, inhabited by Native Americans. There were quite a few tribes, most of them nomadic, in the Montana area. It is difficult to know how long the area had been inhabited by Native Americans, but Rock art near Billings, Montana dates back to over 2,100 years ago.

After the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson appointed Lewis and Clark to venture out to see what the United States had acquired with the Louisiana Purchase, and to see what lay west. Lewis and Clark entered Montana in 1805 and returned through in 1806 and recorded their travels through Montana. This helped to lay a path for fur trappers to come and trap in the areas Lewis and Clark charted. French trappers had been trapping the area since the 1740's.

In the mid 1800's gold was found in Southwestern Montana. Later silver and copper were found, so Montana grew as mining towns popped up all over. In 1883, The Northern Pacific Railroad was built. A depot was built in 1904 in Whitefish, Montana. Whitefish was already established, with a small fur trapping and logging population. The railroad access opened Whitefish up to people settling in the area to ranch, mine, trap and log. When these industries waned, Tourism replaced the industries as Whitefish's primary source of subsistence. Big Mountain Ski Resort (now called Whitefish Mountain Resort) was built in the 1940's, firmly establishing tourism as a steady part of Whitefish's economy.

People & Culture:
This town, in contrast to many ski destination towns, is known for it's utter lack of pretension. The people here are friendly and down to earth, with a tightly knit community. It is a real town and a real home for the citizens here, not just an annex town to support the ski resort and tourism. The locals love the beauty of their back yard as much as the people coming to visit it, and there is a lot of talk in town about how many fish were caught, or mountains skiied. Whitefish has been a small community for a long time, and the recent name change of the ski resort from Big Mountain Ski Resort to Whitefish Mountain Resort has concerned the residents that their town will change as a result.

Food & Nightlife:
Whitefish isn't a late night club type of place, it is more of a rise early to do all the wonderful outdoor activities type of place. However, there are plenty of bars and saloons to have a drink and relax after the day spent outdoors. They have their own brewery (Great Northern Brewing Company) as well. The food here is notable, you can get all the variety a cosmopolitan city has to offer- sushi, espresso, gluten free options, continental, and so on.

Money & Costs:
Whitefish is a bit on the expensive side, for both accommodations and food. It is a remote resort town, and the price tags have been slightly elevated to compensate for that. However, it is still less expensive than a metropolitan city in the United States, and gas prices and the like are in line with the national average, as well as tipping (15-20%). There is no sales tax in Montana, it is one of 4 states in the United States where you can enjoy no sales tax.

Getting There & Around:
The closest Airport is Glacier Park International and it is about 11 miles south of Whitefish. Amtrak also serves Whitefish, the Empire Builder line runs between Chicago and Seattle/Portland. This is a rare case in the United States, that taking the train is the most simple way to get to Whitefish. Most hotels will pick you up for free at the station. It is also more affordable than flying in, since there are few direct flights going to Glacier Park International.

Whitefish has very few taxi companies and limited bus service. Glacier National Park shuttles visitors for free to and from the park. Whitefish Mountain Snowbus transports visitors from the mountain to the town and back up.If you would like to see areas outside of those mentioned, it would be best to rent a car. However, if you are coming in only to ski and perhaps visit Glacier National Park, you can get by without a car rental.

Whitefish gets warm summer days, with cold evenings, and enjoys very little humidity. The snow starts in mid to late November and while the town of Whitefish experiences a lot of grey winter days, it is often sunny on the mountain above the valley. Both fall and spring rain quite a bit.

Below are the current conditions and weather forecast for Whitefish, Montana.

The table below shows the average high and low temperatures.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg High 29 35 44 54 63 70 80 80 68 53 37 28
Avg Low 16 16 23 30 38 45 50 48 39 30 24 16
Precipitation 1.74" 1.34" 1.26" 1.46" 2.23" 3.23" 1.66" 1.23" 1.45" 1.13" 1.89" 1.98"
Days of Rainfall 14 11 11 10 12 13 7 7 8 9 12 14
Monthly Snowfall 20.2" 11.3" 6.7" 2.0" 0.3" 0.1" -- -- -- 0.4" 8.8" 19.2"


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