Recreation

The Flathead National Forest contains three wilderness areas, two ski areas, impressive mountain ranges, lakes, wild and scenic rivers, campgrounds, picnic areas, and cabins. Hiking, wildlife viewing, whitewater rafting, snowmobiling, and skiing are just some of the activities enjoyed year-round. Whether you prefer the solitude of hiking in wilderness or the camaraderie found at popular boating and picnic areas, the Flathead National Forest offers a multitude of recreation opportunities for all.

Finding a Recreation Area or Activity

On our website, recreation opportunities are organized by districts or activity type. Note the area on our forest you'd like to stay or explore, under the right column heading 'Areas & Activities', 'Find an Area'  select the district that covers that area, then view/select the available recreation activities. Or, choose an activity under the Recreation heading on the left side of the webpage and see where on the forest it is offered. Either way, we're sure you'll find exceptional recreation opportunities on the Flathead National Forest.

The District Vicinity Map displays the district boundaries, where they are located on the Flathead Forest, and their relation to surrounding forests and Northwestern Montana.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Recreation Conditions Report

 Area Name Status Area Conditions
Blacktail Cross Country Ski Trail Open to Visitor Grooming takes place by by the Northshore Nordic Club members, a group of dedicated volunteers. Season varies on snow but generally early December through March. Grooming updates can be found here: http://northshorenordic.org/
Blacktail Mountain Ski Resort Open to Visitor Blacktail Mountain Resort Ski Report
Essex Nordic Trails at Izaak Walton Inn Open to Visitor For more information on nordic trails, see Izaak Walton Inn.
Nordic Trails at Glacier Wilderness Resort Open to Visitor For more information on nordic trails, contact Glacier Wilderness Resort.
Round Meadow X-C Ski Ski Area Nordic Open to Visitor Trail system is open to nordic uses when there is enough snow on the ground, generally December - April.
Summit Nature Center Open to Visitor Call 406-862-1972 for conditions and more information. Hours and open dates can be found at Whitefish Mountain Resort site.
Whitefish Mountain Resort Open to Visitor Downhill ski area under permit with the U.S. Forest Service. Click here for snow conditions: http://skiwhitefish.com/snowreport/

Spotlights

Summit Nature Center

This education and visitor information center is located at the summit of Big Mountain Whitefish Mountain Resort in the lower level of Summit House. The center can be accessed by purchasing a lift ticket at the resort or by hiking the Danny On Trail. The center has a wide variety of interpretive displays on wildlife, wildflowers, trees, fire ecology, and other topics that relate to the ecosystem of northwest Montana.

Summer

The center first opened in 1990 and today over 16,000 annual visitors enjoy center displays and hands-on activities.  During the summer there are daily wildflower, nature walks and families can check out an “Adventure Pack” filled with field guides and materials for fun outdoor exploring.  Kids ages 7-12 can participate in the Junior Forest Ranger program. For summer 2017, the nature center will be open daily, 10am to 5pm, June 17 through Labor Day, September 4.

Winter

Group of young students gather on the snow with Forest Service guide to look at trackDuring the winter the center is open over the holidays and weekends January through mid-March from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Jr. Snow Ranger program for kids 10-12.

During the week school groups strap on snowshoes to explore the winter environment.  Younger grades learn how people and animals adapt to winter. Older grades learn how to enjoy the cold and snow and yet stay safe, learning about avalanches and ways to properly gear up for winter adventure.