Kalispell Montana is known as the "Heart of the Flathead Valley", and is the largest gateway community to Glacier National Park. With a population of over 20,000, and with 93,000 in the Flathead Valley Area, it is the largest town in Northwest Montana and is home to the Glacier Park International Airport, where a large number of Glacier Park visitors fly into and from during their vacations.
Kalispell Montana is 31 miles from the west entrance to Glacier National Park at West Glacier, making it a popular headquarters for park visitors.
There are many, many Kalispell Lodging Opportunities, including wonderful hotels, motels, vacation rentals and campgrounds that cater to vacationers. Kalispell Montana also provides excellent shopping and dining opportunities in its historic downtown district as well as its newer area with the modern box stores such as Costco, Home Depot and Walmart and all the familiar restaurant chains.
Located only 7 miles north of Flathead Lake, which is the largest fresh water lake in the United States other than the Great Lakes, Kalispell is the hub for the activity surrounding Flathead Lake. Kalispell is ideally located to actually be the hub to all that is happening throughout the Flathead Valley, and all roads lead to this charming Montana town. This charming town is a combination of an old classic Montana town and a vibrant, new expanding area, with all the modern “box stores” and restaurants that everyone is familiar with.
Other popular recreation areas near Kalispell include the massive Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir that is 22 miles northeast of Kalispell on the way to Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort which is only 16 miles to the north. This world-class ski resort sits just above the charming resort town of Whitefish Montana, on the slopes of Big Mountain.
Brief History of Kalispell Montana
In 1891, Charles Edward Conrad, who was a successful banker and businessman from Fort Benton Montana, along with three other business associates created the townsite of Kalispell Montana. The town quickly grew and became an officially incorporated city 1892. The town has since grown to over 20,000 people within the city limits, with as we mentioned earlier, over 93,000 residents in the Kalispell Area (i.e. the Flathead Valley). Logging has always been the major industry in this area, and through time of course tourism has become an equally important industry, helping to sustain the economy of the entire Flathead Valley.
Historic Downtown Kalispell
Kalispell has a wonderful downtown historic district, lined with historic buildings with fun places to shop, enjoy a micro-brew and eat a wonderful meal. There are several buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Grand Hotel, built in 1912, and the Historic Flathead County Courthouse. Built in 1905 through the guidance of Charles Conrad, the Historic Flathead Valley Courthouse stands at the end of main street, dead center, where the streets literally have to wrap around this remarkable old building to then continue on their way.
Historic Kalispell Grand Hotel (1912) is located in Kalispell Montana's Historic Downtown District.
The Historic Flathead Courthouse (1905) sits at the end of main street in Kalispell Montana, where the street splits in two to wrap around it!
Kalispell has several wonderful museums for those of you who are interested in the colorful history of the area. The Central School Museum, which is housed in Kalispell’s first school house, features the “story of Kalispell” which includes the history of the logging industry as well as a collection of Western Indian Culture.
The Hockaday Museum is located in the historic Carnegie Library and represents Montana’s artistic past and its exciting future. The Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park Exhibition includes original paintings by famous artists such as Charles M. Russell, John Fery and Winold Reiss.
The Conrad Mansion is one of the most authentic examples of luxurious railroad boom-town architecture found throughout the Pacific Northwest. Built by the founder of Kalispell, Charles Conrad in 1895, this glorious 13,000 square foot mansion is a brief walk from Downtown Kalispell
Kalispell Visitor Center
The Kalispell Visitor Center is located in the historic old trail station at Depot Park, where you can pick up a brochure for a fascinating walking tour. The history of this colorful town comes to life as you walk the streets and learn how Kalispell Montana came to be. Many of the buildings on main street are quite historic and have an interesting story behind them!
Interesting characters scaling the buildings in Downtown Kalispell.
Glacier Park International Airport
The Glacier Park International Airport is located six miles north of Kalispell Montana, and is the closest international airport to Glacier National Park. Glacier Park International Airport’s IATA Code is GPI, however most travel agencies use its old code KFCA so it’s not confused with the Guapi Airport in Colombia, which is also GPI. (Now that would be a travel agent’s nightmare mistake! HaHaHa.)
There are many historic buildings that have been nicely restored throughout the town of Kalispell.