Bigfork & the Wilderness
One hundred miles north of
Missoula, Bigfork lies on the eastern side of Flathead
Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the American
West. The lake is as renowned for its fishing as
Bigfork is famous for an annual flood of vacationers
who come to this small, cozy village for the
unbelievable variety of nearby wilderness and for the
town's cultural attractions.
What to See & Do
East of Bigfork is the Bob Marshall Wilderness,
a huge untamed area of 950,000 acres -- a favorite of
backcountry purists. Glacier National Park is an
hour's drive to the north. The Jewel Basin Nature
Area is closer to town and offers 38 miles of nature
trails which anyone can navigate.
Flathead Lake attracts anglers for its kokanee
in the spring and summer months and for mackinaw and
Dolly Varden trout in the fall. In the nearby streams,
rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout, perch, bass and
northern pike are caught. The Swan River flows
through the middle of Bigfork and there is swimming and
boating available right in the village. The river is a
frequent scene of float trips and canoeing adventures.
Golfing rounds out the recreational scene, with the Eagle Bend course a beautiful addition to the
There is a lively arts and crafts ambience to Bigfork.
The summer sees a live repertory theater in the Center
of Performing Arts with musicals and other
productions from June through September. There are art
galleries and craft shops displaying the work of local
resident crafts people and visiting artists. The Bigfork Festival of the Arts is held on the first
weekend of August. The village park hosts live outdoor
performances during summer months
Bigfork is also a popular winter recreation center.
The national forest offers miles of cross-country ski
trails and forest roads for snowmobilers. Big Mountain
Resort (with downhill slopes) is less than an hour's
drive away, as are the famed cross-country trails at
Essex. Because of the lake's effect, the winters here are
milder than in most northern Montana towns, making
Bigfork an excellent place to stay while exploring the
recreational opportunities in the area's larger towns,
including Whitefish and Kalispell. While
there are a number of motels in the village, there are
also a number of fine bed and breakfast homes in and near
To get to Bigfork, take US Highway 93 north from
Missoula, through the scenic Flathead Lake area. Bigfork
is on Montana Highway 35 which cuts around the eastern
shore of Flathead Lake, between Polson and Kalispell.
How to Get There
You can also reach Bigfork by driving north on the
very scenic State Route 83, through the Clearwater and
Swan valleys. This route leads to the town of Seeley
Lake, and north to Swan Lake, before reaching Bigfork.
For this route, take State Route 200 east from Missoula,
and turn north onto Route 83.
Hotels and Lodges
Marina Cay Resort
180 Vista Lane, Bigfork MT 59911, 406-837-5861
A deluxe facility on Bigfork Bay with some suites and
cooking rooms, pool, whirlpool, boat & canoe rentals.
Flathead Lake Lodge
Rte. 35, Box 248, Bigfork MT 59911, 406-837-4391
For all-inclusive, week-long family vacations . Guests
come from all over the continent to enjoy the guest ranch's
activities including water sports—from wind surfing
to lake cruises to a children's rodeo.
311 Aero Lake, Bigfork MT 59911, 406-837-68516406.
The owners of this spacious log home and B&B go great lengths to
make their guests comfortable with beautifully furnished King and Queen rooms, plus two deluxe King rooms with whirlpool tubs. and superbly fed at
breakfast. A full hot breakfast is served. Picnic tables and grills are available on the patio.