Wild about Whitefish
Stroll an alpine Montana town and hike Big Mountain
It’s hard to believe that Whitefish, Montana, was once called a swampy marsh. Its main drag, Central Avenue, is lined with boutiques and galleries, and tony inns dot the town. Before the railroad arrived in 1904, Whitefish was “full of green frogs, lizards, and other creeping things,” according to an early account.
Whitefish’s colorful history is detailed at the Whitefish Museum (in the Amtrak station; 406/862-0067). You’ll learn how workers cut down so many trees to make way for the railroad that Whitefish was nicknamed Stumptown.
Walk north along Whitefish’s three-block Central Avenue commercial district. Try on cowboy hats at the Toggery (122 Central Ave.; 406/862-2271). Bear Mountain Mercantile (237 Central; 406/862-8382) features bears carved, stuffed, glazed―and on boxer shorts. You can also rent a bike at Glacier Cyclery (326 Second St. E; 406/862-6446) and tool around the wide side streets dotted with flower-filled gardens.