Glacier view from Flathead River

“A handsomer location for a city could not have been found anywhere along the line of the Great Northern railroad, neither could a spot have been selected which has the natural resources of Columbia Falls. With the timber, coal, agricultural and mineral wealth at her door she will at no distant day become one of the wealthy and bustling cities of the Great Flathead Valley.” C. O. Ingalls, editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Demersville in 1891

Columbia Falls, Montana and Glacier National Park

Columbia Falls, Montana is the closest actual town to Glacier National Park. It is a hub for outdoor recreation, especially during the warmer months of the year. Northwestern Montana is known for its abundance of fresh, cold water spilling from the Rocky Mountain Range. The Flathead River System makes up a large portion of the volume. It consists of three rivers; the North Fork, the Middle Fork, and the South Fork, each pouring from the mountains surrounding Glacier Park.

The Flathead River and Gateway to Glacier

The confluence of the three forks that make up the main stem of the Flathead River is a few miles outside of Columbia Falls. It cuts through the wall of mountains and creates a passage called “The Gateway to Glacier”. On the north side of the river is the beginning of the Whitefish Range with Teakettle Mountain which borders the river. It was named long ago from a rock cropping that looked like a teakettle. Unfortunately, a fire in the early 1900s burned away all traces of the formation.
On the south side of the river and across the highway is the northernmost tip of the Swan Range, Columbia Mountain. It has an excellent trail that heads up the face of the mountain for a total round trip of 12 miles.

Flathead River System

It consists of three rivers: the North Fork, the Middle Fork, and the South Fork, each pouring from the mountains surrounding Glacier Park.
The South Fork of the Flathead River originates on the south side of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and flows towards the town of Hungry Horse, Montana. The largest dam in Montana, Hungry Horse Dam was built on the South Fork and stands at 564 feet. The reservoir it created covers 23,813 acres.
The North Fork begins in Canada and flows south along the west side of Glacier Park through the town of Polebridge. A Mercantile was built in 1914 and has grown in popularity over the last decade. It is now a popular stop for their famous pastry, the huckleberry bear claw(worth the hype).
The Middle Fork of the Flathead comes from the Great Bear Wilderness and forms the border of Glacier National park. The Middle Fork has some great views and a white water section for the adventurer in the group.

Guided Fishing Trips in Columbia Falls, Montana

When you leave Glacier Park on your way to Columbia Falls you follow the Flathead River west until you cross at Teakettle Bridge. A popular fishing access site named after the mountain with a boat ramp for rafts and drift boats. The last few years look good on this cute little town. There has been a mix of new construction and renovation of some historic downtown buildings, that keep a bit of that sweet Montana charm. Book a guided fishing trip and enjoy a float down the Flathead  River.  


Backslope Brewing has exceptional handcrafted beer and food. They are located right off of the main drag in Columbia Falls, making the perfect stop after a day on the Flathead River.

Recently renovated, this hip bar and restaurant is located right on Nucleus Avenue in the Heart of Columbia Falls. Delicious food and a wide variety of craft beer with an awesome outdoor venue for live music. This is a must-stop after a day in Glacier National Park.

The Back Room offers tasty BBQ ribs, chicken, salads, and more but the most memorable is the fry bread with honey butter. It’s a family tradition to stop after a day on the Middle Fork River.


A two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo located in Columbia Falls, Montana. Perfect location for the adventurer! Close to Glacier National Park and the Flathead River, but also within walking distance to food and drinks. 

Located perfectly between Columbia Falls and Whitefish on Highway 40. Cozy cabins with a beautiful view give you the full Montana experience. 

Meadow Lake Resort and Condos is located just slightly north of Columbia Falls on a beautiful golf course. They offer various accommodations including condos and vacation homes.


Glacier National Park, also called the Crown of the Continent, is absolutely spectacular. Make sure you stay up to date on closures and details related to reservation passes.

Montana’s largest waterpark is located just outside of Columbia Falls. Spend the day on the waterslides or soaking in the hot tub. They also have a miniature golf course. 

The Columbia Falls Community Market starts at 5 pm until twilight every Thursday all summer long. Local farmers and vendors supply the goods and the music and beer garden will keep you entertained. 

Every Thursday night all summer you can catch a rodeo at the Blue Moon Arena. Located just behind the Blue Moon Nite Club, Casino, & Grill.