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The more than 2.3 million acres of the Flathead National Forest that dominate the Kalispell region make Northwest Montana a sportsman’s paradise.

The forest and adjacent undeveloped lands, including Glacier and Waterton National Parks, create a recreational Shangri-La of nearly 10,000 square miles and provide habitat for 250 species of wildlife including elk, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mountain lions, wolves and grizzly bears.

More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in the Flathead. The lakes, rivers and wetlands provide refuge to waterfowl. Lacing the valley floor are miles of streams, creeks and sloughs – perfect for slipping in your canoe or kayak.

If you’re hankering to do some angling the Flathead Forest’s streams, rivers and lakes teem with 25 species of fish, including natives like bull trout and west slope cutthroat trout. The Flathead River offers miles of great fishing for whitefish, cutthroat and rainbow trout. Recreationists enjoy rafting and boating on 219 miles of the Wild and Scenic portions of its North, Middle and South forks. Wherever you head, bring your fishing pole ’cause the fish are biting!

The 2,600 miles of hiking trails that criss-cross the Flathead Forest afford a restorative wilderness and sense of wanderlust. Snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows studded with wildflowers, and dozens of campgrounds beckon families to wonderful weekend getaways.

The Great Bear and Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas are just east and south of Kalispell – a combined 1,285,000 acres of pure, unspoiled wilderness for hiking, horsepacking and world-class hunting.

The Mission Mountain Wilderness offers nearly 74,000 acres of wilderness crossing onto tribal lands on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Close-in backcountry spots attract weekend hikers and campers. In the Jewel Basin Hiking Area 15 miles east of Kalispell, choose from 35 trail miles woven around 27 lakes. Bring a bucket for huckleberries.

The Danny On Trail on Big Mountain, a local favorite day hike, opens up to dramatic vistas. In the summer you can also hitch a ride on the resort’s ski lift and soak up the view stretching all the way to Canada from the Summit.

When the snow deepens in the upper elevations more than 200 miles of groomed trails around the Flathead and nearly 2,000 miles of National Forest Service roads take snowcatters through alpine forests, along panoramic ridge tops and into deep powder bowls.

Flathead National Forest