Whitefish is a recreational town located fifteen miles north of Kalispell and 23 miles from Glacier National Park. Located on the main east-west Amtrak line, it is situated on the south shore of the seven-mile-long Whitefish Lake and is only eight miles from The Big Mountain, a long established ski area.
This town of about 5,000 people offers year-round recreational activities such as skiing, fishing, boating, hiking and backpacking, mountain biking, and golfing. Or for the really adventurous, get ready for an authentic cowboy evening: wagon rides, roping steer, and spinning rope tricks. Then sit back to enjoy a hearty dinner Montana style while soaking up some cowboy lore.
The name “Whitefish” was given to this area by trappers in the mid-1850s when they discovered Indians catching native whitefish from the lake. The first permanent settler was John Morton who in 1883 built a cabin on the shore of Whitefish Lake just west of the river mouth. He was followed by loggers, Baker and the Hutchinson brothers, who logged around the lake in the early 1890s. But the actual town-site wasn’t surveyed and dedicated until 1903 when timber clearing and building earnestly began. Timber and farming, in addition to the budding railroad, formed the bulk of Whitefish economy for the next fifty years.
As the timber industry waned and the force of the railroad diminished, a large golf course and clubhouse were built, which at the time was the largest in the state. Golf gave Whitefish an economic facelift and a few adventurous folks had begun skiing the Hellroaring Mountain north of Whitefish. In time a ski lift was built and today The Big Mountain Ski and Summer Resort extends a wide variety of year-round recreational opportunities, making it a recreational and retirement haven. Glacier National Park practically lies in the backyard of Whitefish. Whitefish has also gained international recognition as a special place to retreat or even raise a family and has been coined the holiday village of the Flathead Valley with lots of friendly people, good entertainment and great restaurants.