Best Summer Activities in Whitefish, MT: Hiking, Biking, Swimming, and More!
In the past whenever I thought about Whitefish, Montana, I would immediately think about Whitefish Mountain Resort and snow skiing. I definitely didn’t think of summer.
Whitefish just seemed like a place that you went to in the colder months for that quaint mountain holiday and alpine ambiance.
I was wrong. Whitefish is just as alluring in the summer.
I found this out recently thanks to having to plan a summer getaway for our family, which involved a lot of little kids and seven adults. I wanted to find a vacation rental near Flathead Lake that could accommodate all of us. It turned out that the best option was a place in Whitefish.
When I say a place in Whitefish, I don’t mean a vacation rental by Whitefish Lake, which might seem like the better alternative in July, which is when we were traveling. Instead, this place was right in the heart of Whitefish Mountain Resort. The back porch of our rental townhome even overlooked a chairlift!
I didn’t know if this would just make me just want to go skiing the whole time we were there, but it turns out Whitefish Mountain Resort has amazing things to do in the summer. I ended up being so glad we stayed there because it gave us such easy access to all of these activities.
To get to Whitefish Mountain Resort you have to drive up the side of the mountain via a curving road.
It was well worth the extra time it took to go up and down the mountain road to get to our rental — which we did on our Whitefish summer getaway to hang out in downtown Whitefish, by Whitefish Lake, and visit Glacier National Park.
—> Read More: Tips for Visiting Glacier National Park with Kids
When we weren’t having those excursions down in the valley, it was so peaceful up on the mountain.
Plus, as I previously mentioned, it was awesome to be within walking distance of all of Whitefish Mountain Resort’s summer activities.
So what exactly is there to do in the summer at Whitefish Mountain Resort? So many things!
Summer Activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort
The main thing on our to-do list in the summer at Whitefish Mountain Resort was to take the gondola up the mountainside.
It was really nice that the gondola ride was open in addition to chair lifts because we were there with little kids (babies and toddlers!) and there was no way I was taking my young children on the chairlift so into the gondola line we went.
Oh yes, there were three different lines for the ride up the mountain: gondola line, chairlift line, and mountain biker line.
That’s right, mountain bikes and their riders get their own lift line at Whitefish Mountain Resort, but more on that later on in this article.
The ride up the mountain in the gondola was a lot of fun. The look on my daughters’ faces as we started to go up made me laugh in delight. They were so excited and astounded by the gondola ride!
I, on the other hand, was astounded by the views. I’m used to going up gondolas and looking out at snow-covered mountains when I’m in Montana, but in July I saw Whitefish aglow in gorgeous sunshine beaming down on bright green pine trees in a verdant valley while Whitefish Lake brilliantly glistened among the summer scenery.
But make no mistake, there was still snow to be found on this mountain, even at the beginning of July.
The gondola dropped us off at the highest point of Whitefish Mountain Resort, right by a cozy chalet…and a large pile of snow.
The kids (and the kids at heart) had a blast playing in the snow. They could have played there all afternoon, but we had a hike back down the mountain to do. So after a short time atop the snow, we ushered them into the chalet for lunch.
This mountaintop chalet called Summit House is a great place to have lunch during a summer trip to Whitefish. Our family was split between those who brought their own lunches and those of us who purchased one at the food counter. My husband and I were the latter (my daughters ate PB&J we packed). My husband and I both really enjoyed the gourmet sandwiches that we got from the counter service restaurant.
There is also a good selection of local beers on tap so we got a pint to enjoy before the hike back down the mountain. In the summer there was plenty of space in the chalet. We were able to get a table right by the window overlooking the gorgeous view of the mountains.
There was also a gift shop in the chalet so we browsed in that for a few minutes before using the bathrooms and getting our group all back together to start our hike.
Our plan was to do the Danny On hike. This hike consists of a series of narrow switchbacks that go down the mountain right through the thick of the woods.
After a while of listening to the older kids who weren’t being carried in backpacks whining about the trail vegetation and bugs being right at their face level, we opted out of the trail and continued down the worker road on the mountain.
The kids stopped complaining after we switched the route, though I will say this way down the mountain back to Whitefish Mountain Village isn’t quite as fun for adults. The service road had some areas where you have to diligently watch out for rolling rocks and really keep your footing underneath you.
But on the other hand, we had unobstructed and gorgeous views practically the whole way down.
On the hike, we made sure to keep an eye out for when we were in the path of the mountain bike trails since some of those come around blind corners really fast. If you get hit by a mountain bike it’s going to definitely do some damage so watch out for those. Definitely don’t stop to have a water break in the path of a mountain bike trail.
And since we’re on the subject of mountain biking, here’s some more info about it!
Mountain Biking in Whitefish
And speaking of mountain biking, let’s talk about that for a while because if you’re into that sort of thing Whitefish Mountain is an excellent place to do it.
What’s really cool about mountain biking at Whitefish is the ease of getting up the mountain.
The main chairlift up the mountain to the chalet is outfitted with mountain bike lifts in the summertime. There’s even a mountain biker line so you can basically cut the line to get up the mountain. Your mountain bikes go onto the mountain bike lift and then you get on the next chairlift behind them. Your bike will be taken off and waiting for you at the top. Then you’re ready to make your way back down the trails.
When we were there we saw lots and lots of mountain bikers racing in the hills and it was really exciting to see – but oh my goodness they were going much faster than I would probably ever feel comfortable going. Guess that’s why I’m not a mountain biker, ha!
More Summer Activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort
So what else is there to do at Whitefish Mountain Resort in the summer if you’re not a hiker or mountain biker? Lots!
If you’re feeling extra adventurous and are looking for a massive adrenaline rush, but you’re not cut out for mountain biking like me, do a more controlled adventure down the mountain on zip lines or alpine sleds.
The alpine sledding at Whitefish Mountain consists of an actual sled but instead of going down snow, you go down a type of curved slide a bit like a bobsled.
As for zip lining, head to the Base Lodge where you’ll make your way to the start of the zip line course (advance reservations highly recommended). The exciting course takes you all the way back down the mountain to the base of Whitefish Resort.
Where to Purchase Tickets for Whitefish Mountain Activities in Summer?
For all of these summer activities at Whitefish Mountain Resort, you’ll get your ticket from the round green and white building in the base village. If you’re walking from the parking lot, it’s located a little before you get to chairlift number 1 (the Big Mountain Express that takes you up to Summit House).
Summer Activities at Whitefish Lake and Downtown
Alright, let’s head all the way back down the mountain and talk about things to do in the summer in downtown Whitefish and picturesque Whitefish Lake.
Whitefish is one of our favorite towns in Montana. We love everything about it, from the historic train depot at one end of downtown to the artsy main street with a plethora of delicious restaurants, and then onto City Beach on Whitefish Lake just a couple miles away from downtown.
In summer, downtown Whitefish is alive with visitors shopping and enjoying an al fresco drink at one of the many eateries that boast an outdoor patio.
After you do some shopping and eat, head to the Whitefish Depot, where you can walk around the grounds.
Marvel at the history and old-timey rail cars out on display. This is a still working train station where Amtrak comes through to deposit people right within walking distance of downtown Whitefish. You can also visit the small Whitefish Museum in the Depot to learn more about its past.
If you just have a day in Whitefish during summer, we recommend spending your morning downtown or up the mountain and then heading to City Beach for a couple of hours.
City Beach is a large public beach in Whitefish that has an onsite food stand, kayak and stand-up paddle board rental shop, and even changing rooms.
The beach is made up of small rocks so I recommend wearing water shoes to stay comfortable. The water is also on the chillier side since this is a glacially-fed lake, but that didn’t stop my kiddos from running around in it! I also didn’t think it was as cold as its popular neighbor to the south: Flathead Lake.
—> Read More: Flathead Lake Activities Guide
If you have a boat, you can also put it in the water at the public dock on the western end of City Beach.
On a warm summer evening, there may be no better place to hang out in Whitefish than at Bonsai Brewing Project. This unique micro-brewery focuses on small batch production and has a wonderfully relaxing beer garden. In addition to beer, Bonsai serves up delicious burgers and appetizers.
Looking for more ideas to do in downtown Whitefish? Check out our Things to Do in Whitefish article that has activities and attractions for all seasons.
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