18 Great Things to Do in Bigfork, Montana (With Tours & Free Activities)

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 28th, 2023

Bigfork attracts many visitors that fall for its lively culture and close proximity to nature. Even though Bigfork is a comparatively small town in Montana it offers an abundance of activities.

In this article, we will take a look a the best things to do in Bigfork both indoor and outdoor, as well as free events and tours!

Fun Things to Do in Bigfork Montana

The 15 Best Things to Do in Bigfork, Montana

1. Go For a Hike

Bigfork is a great place for hiking trails. Put your boots on and head for places like The Wild Mile Trail, which forms part of the Swan River Trail. This hike takes you along by the river rapids and includes some impressive vistas of the “Wild Mile” where Swan River and Flathead Lake join together.

The hike is a couple of miles one way and longer to get back. You’ll encounter various paths along this route that lead right down to the river, but if you don’t want to take those routes you’ll still be able to enjoy some pretty impressive scenery from higher up.

The Jewel Basin Hiking Trail is a route leading through some amazing forest scenarios, serene lakes, and a fair share of stunning mountain vistas. The main trail leads you past Camp Misery. Parking is available here but is not so easy to find on weekends and during peak seasons when the areas get pretty busy.

hike near big fork

2. Go Kayaking on Flathead Lake

We mentioned kayak rentals earlier so let’s delve a bit deeper into one of the most popular Flathead Lake activities. You’ll actually be able to rent kayaks in all of the regions close to the lake if you’d rather go it alone than take a tour. They are available from anything as little as a few hours up to a whole week.

Flathead Lake Marine Trail is a good place to start, and it comprises various waterways and stopping points around the lake that include some of the best aspects of the lake.

The trail has so many different routes that it is ideal for anyone from beginners to experienced kayakers. If you are already a dab hand in a kayak you might prefer to challenge yourself with some of the routes that go through rocky water.

These stretches are generally less shielded from the elements, while the routes closer to shore are somewhat calmer and more manageable.

The good thing about the Flathead Lake Marine Trail in terms of kayaking is that it has different access points for kayaks and other hand and wind-powered vessels, so it is basically off-limits to anything with a motor, making the experience that much more enjoyable.

Getting involved in either a single or even a multi-day paddle is a top way to experience the authentic natural beauty of Flathead Lake.

go kayaking on flathead lake

3. Go Fishing on Flathead Lake

Ticking with the outdoor water-based activities for a moment longer, and again Flathead Lake you will also find that this wondrous stretch of water offers countless fishing opportunities. If you are interested in fishing, you’ll find a fair few prime pegs from Bigfork.

Anglers will delight in the wide range of trout fishing activities offered at Flathead Lake, and those looking for trout will undoubtedly have their fair share of good luck fishing the deep waters, especially during the spawning season.

There is enough variety when it comes to the fish in the lake to make any fishing trip exciting. The lake is also home to pike, whitefish, yellow perch, bass, Kokanee salmon, and a massive, larger variety of lake trout.

go fishing on flathead lake

4. Do Some Whitewater Rafting

Bigfork is a top location for a spot of white water rafting. It is in close proximity to Flathead River, and whether you are a fearless whitewater veteran or a rank beginner, there’s something here for you.

Guides are available to take you out on rafts and show you the ropes in terms of navigating the rapids.

If you’re already a whitewater rafting lover, then the ideal time for you to visit Bigfork would be for Memorial Day Weekend, as this is when the annual Bigfork Whitewater Festival takes place.

whitewater rafting

5. Go Mountain Biking

If you want to get off the beaten path in Bigfork, you might lean toward a mountain biking trek. Beardance Trail is a popular mountain biking track in Bigfork that runs for almost 14 miles from top to bottom. It has stretches of varied terrain and a good few obstacles.

In Bigfork, you’re always in very proximity to a range of trails that are ideal for attacking a mountain bike. You may choose to bring your own mountain bike with you or go for the easier option of renting one, but you won’t find yourself short of rental shops in town.

mountain biking

6. Try a Spot of Cross-Country Skiing

If you are thinking of heading to Bigfork in winter, then one of the best activities is definitely cross-country skiing.

The Blacktail Mountain Nordic Trails are a great 15- mile stretch with an elevation of almost 5,000 feet, and they are groomed daily during the winter months.

If you want to get your hands on a Montana Recreational Use License you will then have access to another six miles or more of ideal cross-country skiing terrain at the Bigfork Community Nordic Center.

cross country skiing

7. Stop off at a Local Distillery

A cool place to try a shot of locally-made craft liquor is Whistling Andy’s Distillery in Bigfork. This is a ‘must do’ in Bigfork if you’re anything close to a connoisseur of spirits. Here you’ll be able to sample, buy, and see the distilling process of house-made rum, gin, whiskey, and vodka.

The grain comes from local farmers to be used in the creation of each spirit. If you have an interest in this you may opt to join one of the tours that take you behind the scenes of the distillery and unveils to you some of the finer points of craft distilling.

8. Play a Few Rounds of Golf

Bigfork is a golfer’s dream location and is where you’ll find the 27-hole Eagle Bend Golf Course. This special course is split into three 9-hole courses, the third of which was designed by Jack Nicklaus.

Eagle is a much-acclaimed, award-winning course but is reasonably priced comparatively speaking. This golf course is also particularly renowned for its scenic mountain views, which include parts of Flathead Lake.


9. Indulge Your Artistic Side

When you’re walking around Bigfork, don’t miss the opportunity to stop off at some of the art galleries and check out the work of local artists. Bigfork has a population of artists and craftsmen, and it’s possible to witness different forms of artistic mediums.

From paintings and sculptures to ceramics and more, you’ll see how the surrounding natural environment and the cultural background of Montana influence much of the work.

You’ll find Bigfork artists’ work on display at the Bigfork ARTFusion, and Bigfork Summer Playhouse is also worth a visit to check out some of the local thespians.

The art scene in Bigfork s multi-faceted, and one of the most popular summer things to do with residents of Bigfork is to catch a show at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse.

10. Try Some Air Therapy Aviation

some air therapy aviation

If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to ride a motorcycle with wings, this Bigfork experience gets pretty close.

At Air Therapy Aviation it is possible to tag along with a Certified Flight Instructor for an amazing and unforgettable experience. If you think you have a head for heights and fancy the idea of soaring atop the fields and rivers of the Bigfork landscape in a Certified Light-Sport Aircraft, read on.

Anyone can try this unique activity, from those with zero experience to seasoned adventurers. Anyone who tries the flights—even if initially doing so with a degree of trepidation—is likely to feel a sense of rejuvenating freedom once up in the skies. This is the perfect way to take in the breathtaking natural beauty of the Flathead Valley terrain.

The Bigfork operation has been running for more than 7 years. In that time more than 1200 flights have taken place under the center’s expert eye.—with a 100 percent safety record. The helmets are fitted with two-way radios, which allow easy communication between the passenger and the instructor.

You’ll certainly get some impressive photos, and you can also learn to turn, as well as follow the coastline. If you don’t want to take lessons and would instead rather be more of a passive observer, that’s fine too.

The bottom line is this is a unique, different, and exhilarating way to take an aerial tour of the local region. Opening hours are Sunday-Saturday, 8 am-10 pm

11. Discover the Backcountry Flying Experience

backcountry flying experience

Staying with the air theme for a moment longer, we come to the Backcountry Flying Experience. This takes things a bit farther though—and higher—allowing participants to witness the scenic splendor of the Bigfork and surrounding towns landscape.

Whether you want to do some training to be a backcountry pilot yourself or simply sit back and enjoy the tour, this is one of the best ways to skim across the skies of the locale and really get a feel for the geography and terrain while creating lasting memories in a floatplane.

Lee’s Landing in Bigfork is the pick-up point for this particular pursuit. You’ll then head skyward in the regions Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, the Jewel Basin, Flathead Lake, and Flathead Valley.

The Cessna 180 can accommodate 2-3 adult passengers, and the slimline Super Cub fits just one passenger. The Backcountry Flying Experience operates between 8 am and 8 pm and tours can be reserved HERE.

12. Head for Wayfarers State Park

wayfarers state park
Image: Troy Smith

One of the best things about Bigfork is its relative position to Flathead Lake. Off-highway 35 near Bigfork lies the northeast shore of Flathead Lake.

Here visitors can find the popular Wayfarers State Park, where you can get some great scenic photographs, and take a nature walk across rocky shorelines up to cliffs with a picnic area backed up by impressive lake views.

Pretty much anyone is able to access the lake and getting down quite close is not difficult. This spot is popular for boating, paddle boarding, and swimming in warmer weather.

Wayfarers Park comes highly recommended by locals or anyone looking for a touch of nature close to the town and some nice short hikes.

The surrounding forest contains plenty of flowers, trees, and some fantastic vistas of Flathead Lake. Visitors will find plenty of parking and a nice small ranger station in the day-use area.

Camping is available although mostly by reservation.

13. Check Out Yellow Bay in Flathead Lake State Park

yellow bay in flathead lake state park
Image: Paul Yong

Yellow Bay is yet another section of the lake that qualifies as a state park and this bay is also protected. This is a relatively small park at just 15 acres, situated along the east side of Flathead Lake.

You can indulge in some relaxing boating on the lake or walk along the lakeshore at Yellow Bay, which is generally a day-use area. That said, it does have five seasonal tent campsites available.

Swimming, fishing, kayaking, and water skiing are all popular activities around the bay and the lake alongside boating, and this is a pleasant and calm enough spot around the lake to spend a decent morning or afternoon out of Bigfork.

There are a few basic amenities available around the vicinity of the park and the day-use area such as restrooms, water, and picnic sites with grills.

14. Peruse a Few Forgotten Gems at ‘The Barn Antiques

If you fancy spending a little time doing something quite different then the Barn might have something of interest for you. The Barn looks like something of a large consignment store with a huge variety of merchandise to take in.

If you like antique and thrift-style stores you’ll simply love this antique gift shop located in a big red barn. Something of a hidden gem of the town, the Barn has plenty of parking and displays some interesting items right from the front porch. There is a large main floor with some great displays and also an upstairs.

The shop operates Monday through Saturday, and the staff is friendly and helpful. The Barn is basically a huge antique space filled with lots of other little separate shops, each of which has its own specialty.

Even if you are not looking to buy, the Barn is a super fun place to browse the antiques and other collectibles, and you may even find a special something that you simply must take home.

15. Stop Off at a Local Cherry Orchard

local cherry orchard

The Flathead Valley in the northwest corner of the state is prime cherry country, a fact apparent from the various seasonal festivals related to the fruit throughout the summer.

You might notice all the cherry orchards and roadside stands if you ever find yourself cruising through this region during the summer months.

The Bowman Cherry Orchards are a great place to stop off and pick up some local cherries, and maybe some cherry wine. The orchard and warehouse are in a great location just off the main road, with ample parking. The large building sells fresh red and white cherries as well as wine made from the same cherries.

The family-owned orchards specialize in fresh sweet cherries, which are sold wholesale and retailed through the warehouse. Other products include canned cherries, jams, and a variety of cherry wines.

Free Things to Do in Bigfork, MT

16. Swan River Nature Trail

One of the many surrounding nature trails of the area, Swan River Trail is a moderately-used trail that runs alongside a river and is good for all skill levels. There are a few available activities related to the trail, and you can access it at any time during the year.

17. The Bigfork Farmers’ Market

A wonderful, outdoor place with a family-friendly vibe that you can wander around in the evenings. In the warmer months, the market plays host to a free outdoor yoga session.

18. Bigfork Arts & Cultural Center

A hub for the Bigfork community in terms of art, culture, and community. It hosts various exhibitions and activities and is free to enter although you can make a donation if the mood takes you. Bigfork has always been a community of artists and craftsmen, and the center plays a useful role in showcasing that aspect of the location.

10 Best Tours in Bigfork, MT

  • Wildhorse Island Boat Trips Pointer Scenic Cruises is a local operator that offers custom charter tours to Wild Horse Island. Wild Horse Island is a National Park that is primitive and rich in wildlife. You may encounter anything from bighorn sheep, full-curl rams, mules, and deer, to eagles, osprey, and a few wild horses. Picnic, hike, and wildlife watching to your heart’s content.
  • Dog Sledding Adventure Base Camp Dogsledding allows you to experience driving your own team of Inuit Sled Dogs. You can get as much involved as suits you as the trips are customized to your desires and abilities. A great chance to take in the winter landscape of Northwest Montana in a unique way, with real dogsledding.No previous experience is needed, and there are two people per sled (one as musher and one as passenger).
  • Flathead Lake Chartered Fishing Trip Here is the chance to fish for trophy Lake Trout or tour Flathead Lake. Fishing Flathead Lake offers an authentic Montana experience to remember. The ‘ocean-rated’ boat has all the latest mod cons including a heated cabin, making it comfortable enough for families.
  • Whistling Andy Distillery Tour Take a tour with a renowned local distiller and learn about locally sourced grains, innovative distilling techniques, and what comprises the award-winning spirits of Montana’s oldest operational distillery. Whistling Andy’s uses only select local grains, cherries, cane sugar, and other locally sourced botanicals to craft fine spirits.
  • Kayak Rentals and Tours Base Camp Bigfork offers tours that include various types of water to be explored. This covers smaller lakes, slow and fast-moving rivers, as well as big lake paddling on Flathead Lake and Swan Lake. Endless options for paddling are suitable for all levels of ability.
  • Paddle Boards Tours and Rentals Guided tours are offered throughout the shoulder seasons, and all types of water can be explored from small non-motorized lakes, big lakes like Flathead Lake and Swan Lake, and both slow and fast rivers. Plenty of options to suit all levels, and instruction is offered with rentals.
  • Horseback or Llama Trips Take a trail ride tour on horseback to some of the most stunning backdrops in Montana or even on a llama back trek. Options include short, two-hour trips, day trips, and pack rides that take up to a week or more.
  • Guided Boat Tours Why not check out the lake life in Bigfork? You can take a guided boat tour of various local lakes such as Flathead Lake, Echo Lake, or rent a family or deck boat.
  • Fly Fishing Guided Tour Take a first-class fly fishing trip on one of the local lakes like Swan Lake, Flathead Lake, and Blackfoot Lake, or either the Missouri River or some smaller, local rivers. River and lake options, with guides who love what they do, and make sure you enjoy your trip no matter what your skill level is.
  • Mountain Bike Tours Mountain biking tours are a great way to see some of the places in Bigfork that most people won’t know about. This includes old logging trails, country roads, and deep forest tracks. You can easily rent a mountain bike for the day around Bigfork if you don’t bring one along, and the purpose of the tour is to provide you with a quality guided adventure, giving local insights into your activity.

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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