If you are heading to Montana soon, whether you’re doing a road trip or flying into Kalispell to visit Glacier National Park, chances are that you’ll want to visit a few cute mountain towns and explore the area.

In this itinerary, I tell you exactly how you can visit Kalispell, Whitefish and Columbia Falls in a day.

Of course, you can spend more time in all of these locations but if you want to explore the three of them in a day, it’s entirely possible since they are close by.

You can find below the perfect itinerary to make the most of your time

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Your detailed Kalispell – Whitefish – Columbia Falls 1-day itinerary

Morning: Kalispell

Start your day in Kalispell. Head to the historic downtown and park your car near Main Street. 

Kalispell is a small town but the historic downtown and particularly the main street are quite picturesque.

You’ll find loads of cute shops such as outfitters and vintage shops. If you like unique clothes, this will be ideal for you.

For more history, I recommend doing Kalispell visitor center’s self guided walking tour. You can grab a physical copy at the visitor center or download it from their website directly.

It will take you around downtown and tell you everything you need to know about the buildings you see and their history.

It’s quite an interesting thing to do and it’s free!

Early Lunch: Norm’s Soda Fountain

For lunch, head to Norm’s Soda Fountain. This is quite a famous old school diner in Kalispell and a great place to grab a burger, candies and soak up the American vibes.

If you can, try to get an early lunch so it gives you more time in the afternoon to explore.

Early Afternoon: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Once you’ve eaten, it’s time to take your car again and head to Whitefish Mountain Resort.

It takes about 30 minutes to get there. You will be driving through the town of Whitefish but don’t stop quite yet, you can do it on the way back.

Once you get to the mountain resort, you can park your car at the top (not the lodge, the parking lot after that) and head to the scenic lift.

If you are visiting in July or August, the snow should be all melted so I recommend taking a one-way ticket for the scenic lift and walking back.

The scenic lift will bring you to the top of the mountain. The lift is very scenic especially since you’ll uncover (as you go up but you need to turn around to see it), views of the lake and Whitefish town. 

It’s breathtaking!

The scenic lift is quite long, it takes about 15 minutes to get all the way up and it’s a great experience.

You can choose between the chairs or the gondolas. If you are not too scared of heights, I recommend opting for the chairs because you get a better (and unobstructed) view.

Once you are at the top, you can go for a drink at the Summit House and enjoy the views or start your way down straight away.

From the summit house, you can take the Danny on Trail path back to the mountain resort. It’s 4-mile long and is one of the best hikes in Montana.

Of course, if you don’t fancy the hike, you can always take a return ticket for the scenic lift and simply make your way down that way.

If you are visiting in June, chances are that there will still be snow on parts of the trail so you might not be able to walk back down anyway but don’t worry, the staff will let you know when you buy your ticket.

Alternatively, you can also opt for one of the other activities available at the Whitefish Mountain Resort such as ziplining, mountain biking or adventure park.

Late Afternoon: Whitefish Town

Once you are done at the resort, drive back down to Whitefish town. You’ll see that’s a very scenic drive!

It should take about 15 minutes to get there. You can then park your car in the town and start exploring.

Whitefish is very quaint and a proper small town USA / mountain town. You’ll find a lot of cute shops including outfitters and cafés. 

It’s a great place to get a snack or just roam around.

Evening: Columbia Falls

Once you’re done in Whitefish, head to Columbia Falls. It’s a short 15-minute drive there.

Here you’ll have several options. If you are visiting on a thursday (in summer) and want the complete Western experience, then you can go to the Rodeo!

Brash Rodeo is located next to Murdoch’s and Blue Moon nightclub. It starts at 6PM and costs $16.

It’s a lot of fun and you get to see bull riding, branco riding, barrel racing and more.

After that, you can also head to Blue Moon nightclub for some drinks and line dancing.

If you’re visiting on any other day, then I recommend heading downtown and going to Gunsight Saloon.

They have great food and a large outdoor area but best of all, they have live music on every night!

Map of this Kalispell – Whitefish – Columbia Falls itinerary

kalispell whitefish columbia falls map road trip

I hope this itinerary has helped you and that you’ll have a wonderful time in Glacier country!

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