Flathead Valley, Montana, Offers Plenty for Pets

Pet friendly is a way of life in the Flathead Valley

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

Flathead Valley Offers Plenty for Pets // (c) 2010


In Montana’s Flathead Valley, pet friendly has been a part of many business plans since their first day of operations — local hotels have hosted birds, pet snakes and even a pet cougar. With a host of recreation for every walk of life, the Flathead truly has something for everyone, even the family dog.

If your clients’ vacations are not complete without their favorite four-legged friend, then the Flathead Valley’s bounty of pet-friendly sites, campgrounds and hotels means that their furry companions can join in the fun.

At Flathead’s gem, Glacier National Park, pets are allowed at campgrounds, picnic areas and along park roads that are open to motor vehicles, though certain rules apply. For instance, pets must be on a leash no longer than six feet, under physical restraint or caged. Pets may not be left unattended at campgrounds, however if visitors are hankering to get some backcountry time in, the towns nearby Glacier offer kennel facilities.

Flathead National Forest, the 2.3 million acres of forest and wilderness that awaits visitors, also offers access for dogs. Prevailing rules in all National Forest lands require that a dog be on leash or under voice command in all developed areas, particularly in the parking areas where other dogs are likely to be.

Montana State Parks, which include campgrounds with lake access to Whitefish Lake and Flathead Lake, do allow pets at campgrounds, but in the name of water quality pets are not permitted on swimming beaches. Unless otherwise posted, the general rule of thumb requires that pets be on a leash not longer than 10 feet. If you bring your pet into a state park, you are responsible for proper waste removal. Each site has specific regulations, so call ahead for exact details.

As for more formal lodging, Flathead Valley hotels, motels, inns and lodges have years of experience as pet-friendly sites. From birds to bunnies, snakes to Irish setters, these business owners have seen it all. The Flathead Convention & Visitors Bureau boasts an extensive list of pet-friendly venues and every year, the Flathead hosts the Glacier Chasers — agility dogs that travel to show off their talent.

At the Best Western in Whitefish, for example, standard pet-friendly rooms are on the first floor and include a pet-friendly fee. This fee is standard in the industry as is either added on as a charge or designated a non-refundable deposit in designated dog rooms.

Glacier Peaks in Kalispell has 20 years worth of experience when it comes to animals. They welcome dogs and cats and have even hosted mountain lions — thanks to a local breeder.

Flathead’s inns and bed and breakfasts are often a bit more selective when it comes to pets and reserve the right of accommodation on a pet-by-pet basis. Because of smaller quarters and the need to respect the wishes of other guests, it’s best to call ahead to confirm that pets will be welcome.