Bigfork Montana area information


Bigfork, Montana

Nestled between the breathtaking mountains of Northwest Montana, lies the quaint and friendly town of Bigfork. The town sits on the sparkling waters of Bigfork Bay where the Swan River flows into Flathead Lake. As you walk down the streets of Bigfork the town takes you for a trip back in time. The streets are narrow there are quaint shops that line the streets with their brightly colored windows showing off what they have to offer and flowers blooming in the window boxes. This is a friendly town where people say hello as they pass you in the street and always offer a smile. Bigfork was chosen as "One of the Best 50 Small Towns of the West" and "One of the Best 100 Small Art Towns of the Nation" and in recognition of the community's dedication to making their village a unique and spectacular destination it was awarded the title of "2002 Montana Community of the Year" by the 29th Annual Governor's Conference on Tourism and Recreation.

Bigfork is host to more than 50 quaint shops and has become known by many art lovers and collectors for its art galleries. There are many world class galleries as you stroll down Electric Avenue (Bigfork's Main Street). You can find everything from traditional western to colorful contemporary in prints, paintings, photography, sculpture and pottery.

If food is what you are seeking you will find it in Bigfork. There are numerous award winning restaurants that will tempt your taste buds and keep you coming back for more. Showthyme is located in the old mercantile building and is a casually elegant restaurant serving exceptional creative American style dishes. They are known throughout the Northwest as one of the top food and wine experiences in the nation. Whether you are looking for fresh fish, pasta, wild game, or fine cuts of meat, Showthyme will reward your taste buds. La Provence will thrill your taste buds with their spectacular French cuisine. The owners have developed a selection of the world's finest wines and has earned them Wine Spectator Magazine's top award in 2002. They also have Le Petite Provence deli that is great for lunch. You will find gourmet sandwiches, soups, salads, quiches and homemade French pastry. Another classic landmark in Bigfork is the Bigfork Inn. Designed to resemble the Glacier Park Swiss-style Chalets it is a favorite for many. After dining you can dance to the brass bands they often bring in. It is truly a place to spend an evening. Another not to miss restaurant is the Mountain lake lodge, just south of Bigfork overlooking Flathead Lake. They offer an innovative fresh food menu featuring fresh seafood, steaks, beef tenderloin, local pork, quail and lamb. If you are looking for a lighter fare try El Topo offering great Mexican food in a fun atmosphere. Another great lunch spot is the Wild Mile Deli serving American and German food. If breakfast is your meal, don't miss out on the Echo Lake Cafe. It is a family style restaurant with a creative menu. They smoke their own salmon, squeeze their own juice and even raise their own beef. A stay in Bigfork isn't complete without a trip to the Garden Bar. They have the best burger in town and the entertainment can't be beat. During the weekends there is always a live band to be found and during the summer the music is performed outside on the stage in the large back yard. This is where 'Quality Time Away From Home' truly happens.

Bigfork is also known for the wonderful live theater performances at the Bigfork Summer Playhouse. It is a great way to spend an evening. The Bigfork Playhouse just recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and the performances just keep getting better. The playhouse is known as the Northwest's finest repertory theater, and the success of the actors stands behind this claim. Numerous of them have made it to Broadway. Each year there is a selection of plays to choose from that will keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat. Plays are offered from May until September 18th and then are open for "The Nutcracker Suite from November 26th through 28th.

Just a short trip from Bigfork is the Eagle Bend golf course with 27 holes of some of golf's best terrain designed by Jack Nicklaus, Jr. and William Hull. Eagle Bend has been the #1 spot for golf in Montana for 6 consecutive years. The holes are integrated into the natural environment at the edge of Flathead Lake. The golf season usually opens in April and plays right on through October or later, depending on the weather. There are numerous tournaments throughout the season.

No matter what season you are in Bigfork there is always something happening. In the spring as the snow melts off and the grass greens up events begin to take place. "Taste of Bigfork" is held in April and is a joint fund raiser for the Chamber of Commerce and local non-profit organizations. The area restaurants show off their selections by providing samples of their menu to hundreds of people. Ma y is host to the Cherry Blossom Festival, a celebration of the local orchards and the ever famous "Flathead Cherry". The first weekend in June is probably the biggest kick off for summer. It is the Whitewater Festival where world class kayakers from around the country come and test their skills on the Wild Mile, a class 5 section of the Swan River. Throughout the summer there are numerous golf tournaments. The Fourth of July marks a big day in the town of Bigfork. It seems the whole town shows up to partake in the ever popular 4th of July Parade, followed by a children's carnival and "Ducks for Bucks" - a rubber duck race down the Swan River. August brings the Festival of Arts. It is a two day outdoor art show of various local artists showing off their creations, food vendors, and live entertainment. September brings fall and the autumn harvest. The Art Center hosts a craft fair; there is the "Fiesta Latina" outdoor street dance and many other activities to bring in the season. October features "Tamarack Time", a chance for the locals to show off their cooking talents. There is food tasting, harvest decorations and entertainment. The winter season is a favorite for many. On the Saturday before Thanksgiving hundreds of residents "the Elves", gather and turn downtown Bigfork into magical winter wonderland of lights, trees, ribbons and garland. There is a parade on the first weekend in December that starts things off. Fire trucks, ambulances, floats, snowmen, everything you can imagine including Santa himself parades down Electric Avenue right after dark. Horse drawn sleigh rides are offered and continue each Saturday through the holiday season.

As you can see, no matter what the season, Bigfork is the Place to be!


Bigfork is actually a pretty young town, celebrating their Centennial in 2001. Before then, the only visitors to the area were the Flathead and Blackfeet Indians. In 1901 Everit L. Sliter, a pioneer from Minnesota, acquired 140 acres of land in this region. He married his schoolmate, Lizzie Osbome, and platted 94 lots and 11 blocks of land, what we now know as Bigfork. In the early days Bigfork was a logging camp, home for all of the workers who harvested the nearby trees. The nearby community of Holt, on the Flathead River near what is now Eagle Bend Golf Course, was the hub for ship traffic on Flathead Lake. Goods were transported up the river by steamship or paddle boat. As the loggers continued to move closer to the trees and away from Bigfork, Bigfork transformed into a community on the lake. Vacation homes and resorts were built around the time of World War II and Bigfork grew. There were restaurants, and shops built and live theater began. There is some speculation in how Bigfork received its name. Some say that it was names for the Swan River, a "big fork" of the Flathead River system. Others saw that Everit Sliter based the name on the name of his hometown "Big Fork", Minnesota. No matter where it came from, it will never be forgotten. It is a place that amazes and charms all who visit.

Bigfork Info

Population - 1,428
Elevation - 2,900 feet
Summer Average Temp - 78° F
Winter Average Temp - 36° F
Annual Rainfall - 19 inches
Average Snowfall - 65 inches

Bigfork Elementary (K-8)
Swan River School (K-8)
Bigfork High School
Bigfork District Office - (406) 837-7400
Bigfork Montessori - (406) 837-6786

Medical Care
Bigfork Medical Clinic - (406) 837-5541
Bigfork Dental Center - (406) 837-5611
Bigfork Eye Clinic - (406) 837-6883
Bigfork QRU Ambulance - 911 non emergency (406) 837-2521

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Contact Information

Photo of Corey Olofson, Broker Real Estate
Corey Olofson, Broker
RE/MAX of Whitefish
509 E. 6th St.
Whitefish MT 59937
Office: 406.863.3400
Cell: 406.253.0531
Fax: 406.863.3400