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Columbia Falls, Montana

Located a short distance from the west entrance of Glacier National Park, and considered one of the gateway communities to Glacier, is Columbia Falls.

This peaceful town is an amazing place to set out on your visit to Glacier and all of the amazing sights in the Flathead Valley and Flathead National Park.

The first settlers to Columbia Falls arrived in around 1891. These settlers came to the area in anticipation of the Great Northern Railroad which was expected to pass through the area.

The early settlers in the area desired to name the community “Columbia” but added “Falls” later on to avoid confusion with the already-named town of Columbia, MT.

In April of 1909 the town was officially incorporated and for many years served as a stopping point for the Great Northern Railroad.

Today, the town is a tourist hub, serving some of the thousands of visitors that come to the area to explore Glacier National Park.

Main Attractions

main attractions in columbia falls

Glacier National Park

Being just 17 miles from the west entrance to Glacier National Park is probably the number one draw for visitors to Columbia Falls.

Glacier National Park is home to 26 large glaciers that are remnants of the last ice age. Visitors to Glacier National Park enjoy some of the most scenic views in the United States, many of which are iconic for the state and the National Park system.

While visiting Glacier National Park, take a hike to one of the glaciers or view areas of the glaciers. If hiking isn’t your thing, travel the Going-to-the-Sun highway. From here you’ll get views of most of the glaciers that still remain in the park.

Depot Park

A great spot for kids and adults alike is Depot Park. This neat park located along the railroad in Columbia Falls has a real antique train engine that kids can play on.

The train engine isn’t just a play piece in the park. It was once used to move lumber along rail lines throughout the country. And this steam locomotive has one other distinction – it’s the oldest of its kind in the United States.

Montana Vortex and House of Mystery

A unique spot outside of Columbia Falls that draws visitors from all over the world is the Montana Vortex and House of Mystery.

This attraction amazes visitors with experiences that defy the laws of physics without any computer assistance or sleight of hand.

The Montana Vortex is a real gravitational anomaly that was first discovered by Native Americans in the area. The Vortex contains altered energy fields that change your visual perception of the space around you.

The Montana Vortex is open daily starting in May and guided tours are the best way to experience the attraction.

Recreation Activities

recreation activities in columbia falls

Hiking

Being just outside of Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park gives visitors to Columbia Falls amazing access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

If you are looking to avoid paying fees for entering the National Park, there are plenty of great hiking trails around the town of Columbia Falls.

One of the most popular is the Columbia Mountain Loop Trail. This 12.5-mile loop trail starts just outside of town and is a nice hike for most levels of hikers.

Glacier National Park has many different trail options, offering options for a range of skill levels. Many of the hikes in Glacier National Park provide views and access to the remaining glaciers in the park.

Fishing

Located along the Flathead River, many people come to Columbia Falls to enjoy a bit of fly-fishing along with their visit to Glacier National Park. The Flathead River is a cold water fishery and has some of the best trout fishing in the world.

If fly-fishing isn’t your thing, Columbia Falls is just a short drive to Flathead Lake. This large, natural lake is also a great place to cast a line and enjoy the views of the Flathead Valley.

Fishing regulations and information on how to buy a Montana fishing license online can be found on the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website.

Skiing

Some of the best skiing in Montana is located just a short drive from Columbia Falls. Downhill skiers and snowboarders will love hitting the slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

Additionally, hiking trails within the Flathead National Forest are also open for cross-country skiing during the winter.

Water Sports

If you like to play in the water, Columbia Falls has plenty of ways to have fun. In the summer, local outfitters can connect you with amazing rafting, kayaking, and canoeing opportunities on the Flathead River.

There are many guided trips available or rent equipment from one of many local rental stores and head out on your own adventure.

Accommodations

One of the things we like the best about Columbia Falls is that it isn’t filled with chain hotels. As a matter of fact, there isn’t a single chain hotel in Columbia Falls.

In this charming town, you’ll find great locally-owned lodging options that feel more like home than your run-of-the-mill chain hotels. If you’re looking for something more private, Columbia Falls has plenty of vacation rental options as well.

Special Events

The small communities on the north end of the Flathead Valley band together to put on some really fun special events that you should check out if you’re visiting Columbia Falls.

Activities Near Columbia Falls

activities near columbia falls

Recreation Activities

National Parks and Forests

Museums

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