Local’s Guide to the Top Things to Do in Bigfork, Montana
Bigfork, Montana is located on the northeastern edge of Flathead Lake and is an unincorporated community in Flathead County. If you are planning a Flathead Lake trip, dedicate some time on best things to do in Bigfork, an area known for its quaint village, history, and outdoor activities.
While in Bigfork, you’ll have easy access to some of the best activities Flathead Lake has to offer, from outdoorsy pursuits to artistic endeavors. Read on for the top 10 you won’t want to miss doing in Bigfork.
Stroll Around Bigfork Village
The Bigfork Village is one of the most charming little towns in Montana. The buildings exude a quaint old-timey vibe with wood paneled exteriors and welcoming shops signs, just beckoning you to come in and browse.
Tour Bigfork’s Local Art Galleries
When you’re walking around town, be sure to stop in some of the art galleries and check out the work of local artists. Bigfork has a sizable artist population and it’s interesting to see all the different artistic mediums come into play — from paintings to ceramics and more — and how the nature and cultural backgrounds of Montana reflect upon the artwork. At Bigfork ARTFusion you’ll find only Montana artists on display.
Bigfork Summer Playhouse
The art scene in Bigfork doesn’t stop with physical products; you can also watch the art of theater thanks to one of the most popular summer things to do in Bigfork: see a show at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.
If you’re not there in the summer, but still want to experience some of Bigfork’s performance art, then check out what shows are playing at the Bigfork Center for the Performing Arts.
Do a Hike Near Bigfork
Bigfork is close to a number of great hiking trails. Strap on your boots or tie up your hiking shoes and head to one of these stellar trails in the Bigfork area:
The Wild Mile Trail
The Wild Mile is a part of the Swan River Trail that takes you right by the river rapids and with vistas of the “Wild Mile” where Swan River meets Flathead Lake. The hike is a couple miles to the end and then double that to get back, and you’ll see a few paths along the way that cut down to the river, otherwise you’ll get to enjoy gorgeous river views from above.
Jewel Basin Hike
The Jewel Basin Hiking Trail takes you through pretty forest scenery, up to stunning mountain vistas, and past serene lakes. The main trailhead is by Camp Misery, where you’ll find parking, but it can be crowded on weekends and during peak season so try to get there early to save yourself the “misery” of finding parking.
Go Fly Fishing Near Bigfork
Flyfishing is a quintessential Montanan thing to do and Bigfork is a great place to try it (or keep honing your craft if you are already an avid flyfisherman…or woman).
There are numerous flyfishing outfitters who will take you on a guided expedition or will make it easy for you to rent the equipment you need. Popular places to go flyfishing near Bigfork include the Flathead River and Swan River.
Remember that you’ll likely need a Montana fishing license if you’re looking to cast a line during your trip to Bigfork.
If regular fishing from a boat or dock is more your thing, Flathead Lake is also well-known for its fishing, especially for the lake trout that can get up to twenty pounds. (see our whole guide to Flathead lake fishing here).
The Jewel Basin Hiking Area is also home to over 20 lakes where you can do some fishing.
Wayfarers State Park
One of the most popular parts of the Flathead Lake experience is Wayfarers State Park and it’s located right by Bigfork. Wayfarers State Park is known for its campground and picnic areas plus the waterfront walk that takes you along the rocky shoreline and to one of the best places along Flathead Lake to see the sunset.
Whitewater Rafting & a Bigfork Festival
Bigfork is an excellent place to do some whitewater rafting thanks to its close proximity to Flathead River. If you’re not experienced, there are guides who will take you out on rafts and teach you how to safely navigate the rapids.
If you’re already an avid whitewater rafter, then you also might want to time your trip to Bigfork for Memorial Day Weekend when the annual Bigfork Whitewater Festival is held.
Big Fork is home to the Eagle Bend Golf Course, a 27-hole course that is divided into three 9-hole courses. The third 9-hole course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Eagle Bend Golf Course has much acclaim and has won various awards, but it’s still on the more affordable side compared to other golf courses of similar caliber.
In addition to having a world-class course, the Eagle Bend Golf Course in Bigfork is known for its astonishing mountain views and glimpses of Flathead Lake. After you’re done golfing, get a drink or bite to eat on the Clubhouse’s covered deck (note: the clubhouse is currently being rebuilt due to a fire, but a temporary facility has been constructed and is serving food and drink.)
Do Some Paddleboarding or Kayaking
Some of the best activities to do on Flathead Lake include the water and paddleboarding and kayaking are two popular ones. In Bigfork, you can rent watersports equipment right by the shore and set off on a paddle across the lake.
Kayaking and standup paddle boarding is possibly even beyond the lake thanks to the Swan River and Flathead Rivers nearby. Be sure you check with your rental equipment outfitter or consider going with a guide to ensure you access parts of the river with rapids appropriate for your difficulty level.
Mountain Biking in Bigfork
Get off the beaten path with a mountain biking experience in Bigfork. While in Bigfork, you’re close to many trails that are prime for traversing with a mountain bike. Strap your own mountain bike to your car and road trip with it across Montana, or rent a mountain bike from one of the many rental shops in town.
Beardance Tail is an especially popular trail for mountain biking in Bigfork due to its varied terrain and exciting to navigate obstacles. The trail is just under 14 miles to the top and back down.
Cross-Country Skiing in Bigfork
One of the best winter activities to do in Bigfork is cross-country skiing. If you have a Montana Recreational Use License you can access over six miles of groomed cross-country skiing terrain at the Bigfork Community Nordic Center.
The Blacktail Mountain Nordic Trails are also a great option as they’re groomed daily between December and March and cover over 15 miles at an elevation of up to 5,000 feet.
Get a Pint at Flathead Lake Brewing Co.
Try a local brew at the Flathead Lake Brewing Co. Pubhouse located right in the middle of Bigfork off of Holt Drive with views overlooking the lake.
Flathead Lake Brewing Co. Pubhouse also serves gastropub-style appetizers and entrees upstairs and Chicago-style pizza in its downstairs area called the Cellar. Also, don’t try to go on a Monday or Tuesday; they’re closed. But fear not if those are the only two days you’re in Bigfork and you really want to try one of the breweries craft beers; you can also find their beers sold in most liquor stores around the Flathead Lake region.
Whistling Andy Distillery
Another place to try a local craft drink is at Whistling Andy’s Distillery in Bigfork. This is a can’t miss thing to do in Bigfork if you’re a liquor connoisseur. You’ll find cocktails mixed with the housemade rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka. The grain used to create each spirit is sourced from local farmers.
You can also join one of the tours that takes you behind the scenes of the distillery and teaches you some of the inner workings of craft distilling.
Dog Sledding in Bigfork
Always wanted to try being pulled on a sled by a pack of adorable huskies? Bigfork is the place to do so.
Base Camp Bigfork is a tour company that offers many different excursions in the Bigfork area, a coveted one of which is dog sledding. You’ll have the opportunity to go mushing with an actual sled dog team and learn how the harnesses work and how the dogs are cared for.
Go Bird Watching along Flathead Lake’s Northshore
The northern edge of Flathead Lake is often referred to as the Northshore. It’s great for a walk along the public areas of the shoreline, especially if you’re an avid bird watcher. The Northshore is home to a number of different types of waterfowl and they are even protected as part of the Flathead Waterfowl Production Area.