Montana’s Flathead Valley Via Snowmobile

The Flathead Valley has 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails

By: By Kenneth Shapiro

For clients who are looking for a new wintertime option, one way to experience the big scenic vistas of Montana’s Flathead Valley is snowmobiling. The Flathead Valley has 200 miles of groomed snowmobile trails, and another 2,000 miles of National Forest roads. Visitors can ride to the tops of mountains from which they can have a 360-degree view that includes Glacier National Park and Canada on the same peak.

The Flathead is ideal for any level of snowmobilers from first-time riders to experts. Plus, local guide services — including one local outfitter who recently trained the military on backcountry snowmobiling skills — ensures that a trip into the backcountry will be safe, fun and beautiful.

A typical half-day guided tour can range 50-60 miles; a full day can take you 70- 80 miles. Guided tours have the added benefit of meals and snacks — outfitters know the best restaurants to access by snowmobile, and they could have guests dining atop Whitefish Mountain’s Summit House or enjoying a backcountry chef’s gourmet lunches near Olney.

According to local outfitter Ron Caldbeck, owner of Winter Wonderland Sports, Stryker trails are a local favorite and offer the most spectacular views of the Flathead. Visitors can take a 2½-mile ride and see the Yak River, the North Fork drainage, Glacier National Park and even into Canada. This ride lets guests see the beautiful mountain lakes that are the hallmark of summer recreation in the area. Eagles abound in this area, so tell clients to keep their eyes open for these majestic birds.

If clients are new to snowmobiling, there’s no better place than the Flathead to get started. Rentals, lessons and safety equipment are all part of the packages at local shops and outfitters take safety seriously.

“Before people go out, they get hands-on training. They can’t leave until they are 100 percent confident,” said Caldbeck.

The Flathead Convention and Visitor’s Bureau offers a brochure on snowmobiling, as well as providing a summary of trails, local contacts and a map.

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