Planning Your Time

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Planning Your Time

Among the best in the state, northwest Montana's six alpine ski areas are led by the Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain in the Flathead Valley. If you come in summer, be sure to take a chairlift ride to the top: from there you can see the Canadian Rockies, the peaks of Glacier, and the valley. Nearby, railroad fans and history buffs will appreciate Whitefish's Stumptown Historical Museum and Kalispell's Central School Museum, both crammed full of local history, plus a few humorous exhibits. Water lovers find ample room for all kinds of sports on Flathead Lake, the West's largest natural freshwater lake. Artsy types should stop in Bigfork, on the lake's northeast shore, where galleries dominate the main street and eateries are often galleries, too.

If your travels include Missoula, you can figure out the lay of the land via a short hike to the "M" on the mountainside above the University of Montana's Washington-Grizzly Football Stadium. From here you'll see the Clark Fork River, downtown's Missoula Art Museum, and, way off to the west, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Wildlife Visitor Center.

In the forested Bitterroot Valley, where many travelers follow Lewis and Clark's trail, stop at Traveler's Rest State Park for perspective on the expedition. Plan on floating and fishing the Bitterroot and other local rivers, and in early July watch the Senior Pro Rodeo if you're in Hamilton. At one of the valley's guest ranches, be sure to sign up for a trail ride into the Bitterroot or Selway wilderness areas and along surrounding U.S. Forest Service trails. Wherever you go, don't forget your cowboy hat and your "howdy."

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