With more than 6 million acres of public land, northwest Montana might be America’s largest outdoor destination. More than 1,000 secluded mountain lakes with crystal-clear waters provide peaceful isolation for anglers. On Flathead Lake you can sail and water-ski. Thousands of miles of hiking and biking trails lace the Missoula and Bitterroot valleys and climb Big Mountain and the Mission Mountains region. In winter the land settles under a blanket of snow and the water under sheets of ice, creating a winter-sports paradise, particularly for skiers.
The region’s rivers, streams, lakes, and mountains attract outdoor adventurers, but once here, they discover playhouses, art galleries, craft breweries, and summer festivals and rodeos. In winter visitors seek out northwest Montana’s six ski areas and scores of cross-country ski trails. But some of the best times to visit are the shoulder seasons, particularly in September, when there are fewer crowds and gorgeous days.