Fall Colors in Montana Glacier National Park & Western Montana

Fall Colors in Montana

Enter today for a chance to win monthly prizes in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Enter today for a chance to win monthly prizes in Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Montana's Quiet and Most Colorful Season

Every autumn, the valleys and mountain peaks of Montana say goodbye to the green hues of summer and hello to the changing colors of fall. Throughout Glacier Country, we welcome brilliant shades of yellow and gold as aspen, cottonwood and tamarack trees display their seasonally coordinated colors. Combine those fall colors with fewer visitors, shoulder season prices and wide-open spaces and autumn is perhaps one of our loveliest seasons.

And while Big Sky Country may not seem like a likely fall foliage viewing destination, it is just that. From Glacier National Park in the north to the wide Bitterroot Valley in the south, Montana’s Glacier Country has plentiful leaf peeping options coupled with charming small towns and friendly folks all working together to create an ideal backdrop for your fall getaway.

The Yellowstone you haven’t seen yet.

The raw splendor doesn’t stop at the park boundary— it spills over for miles of breathtaking vistas and unspoiled wilderness waiting to be explored.


Fall Color Tours

Northern Tier

Glacier National Park

Glacier in the Fall

Encompassing one million acres, Glacier National Park (named the Backbone of the World by the Blackfeet Tribe) is open year-round and is a beautiful destination during any season. However, there's something special about fall in the Crown of the Continent as its glacial-carved valleys and mountainsides are painted with stunning shades of autumn, blue skies, moderate temperatures and abundant opportunities for wildlife viewing. For an up-close look at fall foliage, plan to bring your bike (or rent one from a local bike shop) and cruise Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road. Off-the-beaten-path adventures include driving the Looking Glass Highway (Highway 49) for a beautiful view into the Two Medicine Valley, exploring Many Glacier and traveling into the North Fork of the park, with a stop at The Polebridge Mercantile.

Flathead Valley

Montana in the Fall

Home to charming communities that include Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Kalispell, Bigfork, Lakeside and Polson, Montana's Flathead Valley is prime for fall foliage viewing. Roll the windows down and cruise along Highway 35 as it winds along the east side of Flathead Lake—the largest natural freshwater lake in the West. Or paddle a kayak on Whitefish Lake for beautiful views of Big Mountain and the surrounding forest. For a colorful hike and views of the Swan Mountains, plan to spend time in Jewel Basin.

Seeley-Swan Valley

A 90-mile-long corridor stretching from Seeley Lake to Swan Lake on Highway 83, this scenic drive navigates travelers through one of the region's loveliest valleys. With the Swan Mountains on the east and the Mission Mountains on the west, the Seeley-Swan Valley is known for its hundreds of lakes, beautiful hikes and water recreation. It's also home to numerous tamarack trees whose needles turn beautiful shades of gold in the autumn. While you're here, be sure to see Gus—one of the largest tamarack trees in the nation.

Kootenai Country: Northwest Montana

For an off-the-beaten path adventure brimming with fall foliage viewing opportunities, set your sights on the far northwest corner of the state—Kootenai Country. Home to the Ross Creek Cedar Grove, Libby Dam and Kootenai Falls, this corner of Montana is one of the most undiscovered, but stunning, areas in the state. Travel on Highway 2 from Kalispell to Libby as the road meanders through forested terrain. Once in Libby, envelop yourself in fall foliage with a trek into the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. And for beautiful views of Lake Koocanusa, travel the winding scenic byway between Libby and Eureka.

Southern Tier

Bitterroot Valley

Montana in the Fall

Sitting at 96 miles long and cradled by the Sapphire Mountains on the east and the jagged peaks of the Bitterroot Mountains on the west, Montana's Bitterroot Valley is a fantastic destination for viewing fall foliage. In addition to forested terrain and plenty of outdoor activities, the valley is also home to the storybook-like communities of Darby, Hamilton, Victor and Stevensville. On the must-see list: the historic Daly Mansion and its 46 lush, tree-covered acres. Round out your visit with a stop at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge or a stroll along the Bitterroot River.

Clark Fork Valley

Cruise the open roads of Highway 200 as it makes its way through the Clark Fork Valley and past several small towns, including Paradise, Plains, Thompson Falls and Trout Creek. Take in the fall colors with a visit to the National Bison Range or head to Koo-Koo-Sint Bighorn Sheep Viewing Site for an opportunity to see the area's abundant bighorn sheep. Round off your stay with a soak in one of the natural hot spring pools as you breathe in the crisp fall air.

Missoula Valley

Montana in the Fall

Home to Missoula (Montana's second largest community), the Missoula Valley is a primary destination to experience fall in Glacier Country. With easy access to the Rattlesnake Wilderness and Blue Mountain Recreation Area, numerous fall hiking and biking excursions take place here. The aptly nicknamed Garden City is also known for its display of spectacular colors each autumn. For a stunning view of the colors in the city, make the trek up Mount Sentinel to the “M”.

Fall Activities

Montana in the Fall

Western Montana has a secret…we're pretty fun in the fall. While summer vacation may be gone until next year, autumn brings mild days and uncrowded roads, as well as abundant activity options.

Topping our list: scenic floats on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, paddling the Clearwater Canoe Trail in Seeley Lake, guided hikes in Glacier National Park, fly-fishing trips on the Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Clark Fork and Flathead rivers, tasting Montana at local breweries and exploring the region's thriving arts and culture scene.

Fall Events

9/12 – 9/13

Lakeside

9/11 - 9/13

Libby

9/24 – 9/27

Greenough

9/24 – 9/26
10/1 – 10/3

Whitefish

9/25 – 9/26

Flathead Quilters Guild

Kalispell

10/2

Stevensville

10/9 – 10/11

Kalispell

10/10 – 10/12

Missoula

10/10 – 10/11

Seeley Lake

10/10 – 10/11

Seeley Lake

10/10

Bigfork

For more fall events, visit glaciermt.com.

Discover

Fall Colors in Western Montana & Glacier National Park

Western Montana's Glacier Country

News from Glacier National Park: Currently 12.5 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

Bird Woman Falls

An icon in Glacier National Park, Bird Woman Falls is a glistening 492-foot-high waterfall that cascades down the side of Mt. Oberlin. From West Glacier, travel the Going-to-the-Sun Road to Bird Woman Falls Overlook, located on the west side of the Continental Divide.

Trail of the Cedars

This short boardwalk trail (ADA accessible) takes visitors through an old growth cedar forest. It’s also the beginning of the Avalanche Lake Trail (just over two miles long) that leads to Avalanche Lake—one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park. Trail of the Cedars is located about five and a half miles north of Lake McDonald Lodge.

Drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road

If your time in Glacier National Park is limited, one must-see attraction is the Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile long road takes travelers between St. Mary and West Glacier through the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. There are numerous pullouts along the road, ideal for taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

See a Glacier

As you’re traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road, pull over at Jackson Glacier Overlook (located east of Logan Pass). The overlook offers the best opportunity to see a glacier from the road.

Many Glacier Valley

Home to incredible mountains, active glaciers, abundant wildlife and miles of hiking trails, Many Glacier is located in the northeast section of Glacier National Park. Trails leave from this valley in numerous directions, with popular hiking destinations including Iceberg Lake, Grinnell Lake and Ptarmigan Tunnel.

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