Whitefish was named in Frommer’s top 10 coolest towns in America. Here at the Lodge at Whitefish Lake, we have to agree. What makes Whitefish so cool you ask? There are so many cool things about Whitefish, we decided to divide it into a winter and a summer list. Since we are in the middle of a spectacular ski season, here is our winter list:
1.) Snow Ghosts…..I know, we just blogged about them, but the snow ghost is a phenomenon that makes skiing Whitefish Mountain Resort truly unique. The view from the chairlift as you ride up to the top of the resort looking across a blanket of complete white is amazing. On a sunny clear day, you can see the peaks of Glacier and into Canada. Turn behind you and Whitefish Lake spreads out on the valley floor, small lakes spring up to the north, and Flathead Lake can be seen glistening in the distance. Snow Ghosts frame it all with their white fluffy softness, begging you to hug them. One warning, don’t hug them, they are very cold.
2.) Amtrak….Whitefish is one of the original stops on the Amtrak route from East to West. The Amtrak is an easy and inexpensive way to visit Whitefish. A fun day trip is taking the Amtrak from Whitefish to Glacier Park at Essex and cross-country ski the day, or spend the night in an original train car. Enjoy the views of Glacier Park from the windows of the train as you travel. The Amtrak museum located downtown is also a great way to see the history of Whitefish as “stumptown.”
3.) Ski Joring….this sport combines two of our favorite activities, fast horseback riding and out of control skiing. Whitefish is host to the National Ski Joring Championships where cowboy and skier come together to create a speed filled rodeo on snow. An unlikely couple, the cowboy and the extreme skier, the two put their differences aside with the need for speed and competing for cash and prizes. The competition occurs during our Whitefish Winter Carnival which is an action packed weekend of parties, events, and a downtown parade. A great weekend to visit Whitefish.
4.) Whitefish Lake…..okay, so this may make the top 10 summer list as well, but the view across a frozen mountain lake is breathtaking. Watching deer, coyotes, and the occasional elk or moose cross the frozen lake at all times of the day is special. The lake freezes solid around the end of January, and the locals and tourists alike enjoy snow-shoeing, cross country skiing, or viewing the frozen lake. Here at the Lodge, we hang lights and clean a section of the lake for ice skating which is open daily. Telling friends you walked and / or ice skated on a frozen mountain lake in Northwest Montana…….priceless.
5.) Cafe Kandahar…….we love our restaurant here at the Lodge, the Boat Club, but we have to toot our friend Andy’s horn as well. Andy Blanton, executive chef of Cafe Kandahar, is a culinary genius. Nominated for the prestigious James Beard award for “Best Chef” in the Northwest, a dining experience with Andy is not one to be missed. Located on the Whitefish Mountain Resort, Cafe Kandahar is an intimate evening of dining on gourmet foods with local flavor. Andy ages his own prosciutto for at least a year, and touches every dinner that comes out of his kitchen. On top of that, he visits each table and asks how you enjoyed your meal. His soft spoken, humbleness is almost as spectacular as his food. The culinary delights of Cafe Kandahar is a must do when you come to Whitefish.
6.) Great Northern Bar.…..another highlight to your trip to Whitefish. The Northern as the locals call it, has been the local watering hole since 1919. With sawdust on the floor, retired signs from local businesses, live music in the back and an attitude that anything goes, the Northern is a true Montana bar. Order fries and burgers in the back, play a game of pool or shuffleboard, or stay late and dance until close, the Northern is a the anchor of Whitefish nightlife.
7.) Cross Country Skiing / Skate Skiing…..okay, we get it, its winter and you could do this anywhere. But, in Whitefish you have many choices. Choose from a leisurely round across frozen Whitefish Lake, enjoy the groomed trails of Whitefish Golf Course or Stillwater Mountain Lodge, experience trails at Whitefish Mountain Resort, drive into Glacier National Park to enjoy the many trails, or ride the Amtrak to Essex and you could make a week just cross-country skiing.
8.) Fata Morgana…..wondering what this is? Fata Morgana occurs when the light bends across the top of a thermal inversion, and stacks objects upside down and on top of each other. This occurs above the clouds of the valley and makes the distant mountain peaks look like high desert plateaus. This occurs on a rare occasion when we have a heavy inversion in Whitefish and it is an amazing site to see. As you look out across the cloud covered valley, it looks like large plateau’s coming out of the clouds where normally mountain peaks were. The plateaus are so obvious you wonder if you are looking at the desert instead of clouds above the valley. You truly cannot believe your eyes.
9.) Whitefish Mountain Resort…..I suppose this is pretty obviously in the top 10 winter reasons to visit Whitefish, but the thing I appreciate so about the Whitefish Mountain Resort is the absence of lift lines. There are only a few days a year at the resort where you have to wait longer than a couple of minutes to get on your favorite chair. This leads to a lot of vertical in one day. In addition, Whitefish Mountain Resort has many of the original bars and resteraunts that make the flavor so great. It has not been developed so the old bars have been torn down to be replaced by new, more modern versions. Instead you are in an old, rustic building that is cramped with low ceilings and great atmosphere. The Whitefish Mountain Resort has the chair amenities of any good ski resort with the atmosphere and flavor Whitefish is famous for.
10.) Still of the Morning……..The still quiet of a snowy Montana morning is our #10 top reason to visit Whitefish. Take a stroll out onto Whitefish Lake or off the path on Whitefish Mountain Resort and you will be amazed how quiet the snow is. The quiet has a life and quality all of its own and it is impossible to not feel it lift your spirit and quiet your thoughts. The restorative nature of this place makes it fill its tag line of “the Last Best Place.” Smell the air when you step off the plane, feel the winter sun on your face at the top of Whitefish Mountain Resort, or just take a moment to hear nothing at all, and you will feel that pull in your heart asking you to return to Montana.
Thanks for reading.