Whitefish, Montana

Whitefish offers a great atmosphere for small town life and caters to visitors throughout all four seasons. It is nestled at the base of Big Mountain Resort and along the shores of beautiful Whitefish Lake, creating an outdoor enthusiasts paradise. As you stroll down the streets the locals are friendly and it is obvious to see they enjoy the place they live. Central Avenue (Main Street in Whitefish) is lines with a mix of traditional businesses - shoe stores, barbershop, hardware store, drugstore and bookstore - quaint shops and stores fill the gaps including top-notch art galleries, eclectic coffee houses, scrumptious restaurants, and happening bars. There is something for everyone and a stroll down Central Avenue could take hours, exploring all of these shops and what they have to offer.

Whitefish is often called the recreation capital of Montana. It is a magical place where the trees are still the tallest structures and the wildlife outnumbers people. It also isn't hard to get to this place where you still see eagles, osprey, deer, elk and moose. Whitefish is among the closest direct air service into a mountain ski town, being only 11 miles from Glacier International Airport. Whitefish has something that sets it apart from other ski towns in that it was not developed by outside investors, rather the residents themselves. The result has been the careful planning over dozens of years and the united effort of the community.

No matter what the season Whitefish has something to offer. The Big Mountain Resort is one major attraction and drawn people year round. During the summer you can spend a day bicycling over 20 miles of mountain bike trails catering to all different skill levels. If you would rather ride down that up, you can transport your bike up to the Summit on the Glacier Chaser gondola/chairlift. If hiking is more your forte, there are numerous trails that wind up to the Summit House. The views are outstanding from the mountain, and there are huckleberries along the way to pick and re-energize! There is also the "Walk in the Tree Tops" which is a half-day adventure that offers views of a majestic, managed forest. Guides will take groups of people over a canopy boardwalk suspended between the trees. The 800 foot long boardwalk takes you from tree to tree with the highest point being 70 feet above the forest floor. Once winter hits Big Mountain offers world class skiing. There are over 3,000 skiable acres with 91 runs. Spend a day on the slopes and warm up in one of the 10 restaurants, a café, bar or coffee house.


If water sports are what you seek then look no further. Whitefish Lake is an outdoor enthusiast's playground. The crystal clear waters are a perfect spot to spend a warm summer day. The lake is 7 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and the deepest point is 222 feet. There are 5 public access/parks/campgrounds around the lake.

Whitefish also offers great golfing opportunities. Whitefish Golf Course is a 36 hole public course that is the only 36 hole course in Montana. It offers championship play and was recently honored in the USGA Golf Journal's "One Great Hole," featuring the 8th hole on the South Nine. After a great game enjoy a wonderful meal in the Whitefish Lake Restaurant located in the lodgepole pine clubhouse.

As with many small towns in Montana, Whitefish has its share of festivals throughout the year. February starts off the year for festivals with the Whitefish Winter Carnival. Each year the theme is different. The festival is to celebrate the history of Whitefish. March brings the annual Whitefish Winter Games with various competitions taking place up on the Big Mountain. March also brings the Whitefish Winter Classic. Pro football players come into town and help raise money for local children who require extraordinary medical care. Enjoy During Stumptown Days in June, Whitefish celebrates its historic roots. Merchants wear turn-of-the-century costumes, and activities include wagon rides, singing cowboys, historical displays, and a barbeque and street dance. The 4th of July is always a big date! There is always a spectacular fireworks display at City Beach Park complete with a live band. Big Mountain Festival rounds out the month of July with a celebration of food, music, art, and live entertainment. August brings Huckleberry Days, a celebration of the native huckleberry. Stroll the streets and taste the offerings of signature huckleberry flavored drinks, entrees and desserts in honor of the famous berry. The Summer Theater is also active during August with shows nightly in August. The last weekend in August brings the Big Mountain Brew Fest, a taste of the finest Rocky Mountain brews and live music. Taste of Whitefish is in early September featuring an open-air culinary extravaganza. Celebrate Fiesta Days in October with the town-wide chili contest and dessert cook-off.

Whitefish offers medical services at North Valley hospital. It prides itself on having a "caring family" atmosphere. North Valley hospital offers 18 wellness programs ranging from stress management to cardiac rehabilitations. With Whitefish being such an active town there is an extremely strong concentration of Sports medicine clinics, physicians, certified athletic trainers and physical therapists in the area.


This history of Whitefish isn't quite as clear as that of other cities in the area. In the mid 1850s there were trappers working in the area and they found Indians catching the native whitefish from the lake, and that is when Whitefish Lake received its name. The first permanent settler in the area was John Morton who built a cabin on the shore of the lake in 1883. He was soon followed by a couple of brothers who logged around Whitefish Lake in the early 1890s. They boomed up logs behind a dam built at the river mouth by the Boston and Montana Commercial Company, which when opened allowed water to help float the logs down the river to Kalispell. In 1891 C.E. Ramsey built a hotel just west of the river and called it the Lake View House. It had hammocks, croquet grounds, boat rentals and fishing for those coming in on horseback. In 1900 JJ Hill, the founder of the Great Northern Railway built a railroad from Jennings up to the Kootenai to Fernie B.C. He announced that the railroad would be re-routed to a more northerly route and the new diversion point would be at the foot of Whitefish Lake because of the abundance of water and the location was on a flat piece of ground. The construction of the "Columbia Falls Cutoff" started at Rexford and was built to the east from that place.

The town site was dedicated in June 1903 and the town of Whitefish was started. When the cut off was completed in August of 1904 the first official passenger train came to Whitefish. The town was incorporated a short time later in 1905. JJ Hill purchased land at the foot of Whitefish lake and the rail yards were constructed and the town was platted. The town of Whitefish held its first council meeting in 1905. Timber and farming and the railroad created the economic foundation for Whitefish for the next 50 years. Summer cabins began to appear along the shores of Whitefish Lake. As the timber industry slowed down and the modern technology and equipment led to a shrinking in the railroad work force, Whitefish’s economy began a downward spiral. A few things kept it holding on. A landing strip was cleared on the west side of Whitefish and a clubhouse and nine hole golf course were built drawing some activity. In the early 1960s another nine holes were added to the golf course, and another nine added south of the highway in the 1980s. Still another nine were built in the early 90s, bringing the Whitefish Golf Course to 36 holes. Another factor that aided in the popularity of Whitefish was skiing. A few adventurous people discovered skiing in 1934, and began to hike into hellroaring Mountain, just north of Whitefish and skiing down. This eventually led to building a ski lift and today we have The Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort, giving Whitefish the opportunity for year round entertainment. Whitefish may have not made it as a timber and railroad community but it has made up for it in its recreational draws.

Whitefish Info

Population - 5,784
Elevation - 3,033 feet
Summer Ave Temp - 79° F
Winter Ave Temp - 30° F
Average Annual Rainfall - 22.40 inches
Average Annual Snowfall - 74.0 inches

Big Mountain Facts
Summit Elevation - 7,000 feet
Base Elevation - 4,500 feet
Vertical Drop - 2,500 feet
Longest Run - Hellfire - 3.3 miles
Acres - 3,000
Marked Trails - 91
Distribution of Trails - 20% Beginner, 50% Intermediate, 30% Expert
Total Number of Lifts - 11
High Speed Quad Lifts - 2

Bissell School (Grades K-8) - (406) 862-2828
Muldown Elementary School (Grades K-4) - (406) 862-8620
Whitefish Central School (Grades 5-8) - (406) 862-8620
Whitefish High School (Grades 9-12) - (406) 862-8600
Whitefish Independent High School (Grades 10-12) - (406) 862-8688

Medical Care
North Valley Hospital - (406) 863-3552
Whitefish Fire/Ambulance - 911

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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