The Best Basecamp for Glacier National Park Is This Charming Old Western Town
It’s an oasis for outdoor adventure.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the Insider: Erin Hutchison, freelance photographer
Erin Hutchison specializes in shooting spectacularly beautiful outdoor lifestyle and hunting images. When she doesn’t have her lens fixed on wildlife in the backcountry, she works in marketing for one of our favorite footwear brands, Danner. Here she shares some of her tips from her home of Whitefish, an outdoor adventure oasis imbued with Old West charm and located outside the wonders of Glacier National Park.
“Clydesdale Outpost is a boutique guest ranch with six modern cabins for rent. Soak in your private cedar tub or enjoy a peaceful cup of joe while the Clydesdales greet you each morning.” One of the highlights of a stay? “A curated cowboy cookout in the field overlooking the river.” For long-term stays, book in at StartUp Chalet. “With floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, you’re instantly immersed in nature and ready to relax.”
Book a seat at the base of Whitefish Mountain Resort at the Last Chair Kitchen & Bar “for a cozy dining experience with a deliciously eclectic menu.” As for the best spot for a classic carb load before miles of mountain biking, grab a bite at Abruzzo Italian Kitchen, “known for their authentic pasta dishes and pristine wine selection. Come lunchtime, follow the scent of fresh-baked bread to the Wich Haus for gourmet sandwiches. Trust me when I say it’s home to one of the best fried-chicken sandwiches in the area.”
“Swing by Folklore Coffee for a honey-cinnamon latte.” Later in the day, “if you love beer, Bonsai Brewing Project is a local watering hole ideal for enjoying craft beer on their dog-friendly lawn while indulging in a tarot card reading.” If cocktails are more your speed, Spotted Bear Spirits “has a stylish tasting room adjacent to their downtown Whitefish distillery. If you’ve never tried huckleberries, this is your chance in cocktail form.”
“Lace up your hiking boots and trek to Avalanche Lake near the west entrance of Glacier National Park.” If you can’t snag a reservation but want to hit the trails, the “Whitefish Trail network has dozens of miles of excellent hiking and biking paths with varying levels of difficulty. Or venture a little further to Mount Aeneas for a tough but rewarding burner with 360-degree views of the Jewel Basin. If you’re lucky, a family of mountain goats will greet you at the summit.”
Located on the very strollable main drag of Central Avenue, Mum’s Flowers “will draw you inside from the aroma of fresh blooms and seasonally decorated windows.” Another great place for shopping is Big Sky Antiques, “a store of wonderfully curated oddities and antiques. From antler mounts to jewelry and vintage signs, there’s a keepsake for everyone.”