First off, this is a review of the Whitefish, MT area as we didn’t stay in the town the whole time! There were four of us and we took the train from Minnesota to Whitefish, Montana, and had a wonderful time! First of all, the train is something everyone should experience once in their life. It was a great time, although a long trip (23 hours). It didn't bother me as I got to hang out with friends and we were a little punchy as we got on the train at 3am! We went in mid-October and the colors along the way were beautiful! It was amazing coming into the western portion of Montana and climbing into the mountains just before sunset.
OK, Whitefish itself was great! It is a really good central location to the area. Although we were only there 3 days, we did a lot! It wasn't really that crowded because of the season, which I personally enjoyed. If you are a person who has to see everything, give it more than 3 days and go in the summer. It'll be crazy at that point, but probably worth it.
Our first day we drove south of Whitefish to Flathead Lake and drove around the lake, stopping at various little towns, parks, and outlooks. It was beautiful and was about a half-day drive with the stops. (I have to say it might take most people less time as we are all avid photo takers and like to explore.)
Our second day we drove north out of Whitefish and went to West Glacier for the day. Now here is really where the time of year comes in. Glacier National Park is beautiful in the fall, but they close the Going-to-the-Sun Road that goes through the middle of the park and connects East and West Glacier (due to snow covering the passes). We were not able to drive all the way up and were blocked off. It was still beautiful. We got to see Lake McDonald and hike a little into some of the areas right at the road closure area. It was still great. Again, this was our second day doing just this portion.
Our third, and final, day we drove around to East Glacier and Many Glacier. This was my favorite day, but also the longest. We drove along Highway 2 and were able to stop at the Continental Divide. That is one plus to being there in the fall; because we weren’t able to drive through the park entirely, we had to drive around and were able to stop there. The detraction was that it was freezing and windy that day! Next we hit East Glacier, which was my favorite! Again, we weren’t able to go very far on Going-to-the-Sun Road, but what we did see was great! There are falls that dust dribble down the mountainside as you drive by and if you wanted to you could touch them out the car window! We drove as far up as we could and were able to see a glacier in the far far far distance. Many of the trails below the road closure were still open and we were took a hike down one of them on the St. Mary Falls Mountain Trail. From East Glacier, we drove up to Many Glacier, which was beautiful, but the lodges (like all the others in the park) were closed.
For a smallish town, Whitefish has a plethora of unique and wonderful restaurants (as long as you’re willing to spend money). We ate at the Craggy Range, which was good. It had a bar-like friendly atmosphere without just the bar-like food. They did have hamburgers, but they also had great pasta, lamb, pork, steak, fish, and a wonderful huckleberry sauce. We almost ate at Ciao Mambo which is an Italian restaurant. The wait was way too long, so we ate somewhere else, but it looked fabulous! I’m disappointed that we missed it because I love Italian. We ended up eating at Tupelo Grille that night, which had no wait. It was awesome! I loved it and would definitely go back (after trying Mambo’s). It was classier than the Craggy in terms of atmosphere and the types of dishes served.