As an adult living in Montana, the term “resort”only exists near beaches and far off places, not in my own back yard. And growing up in Montana my family spent weekends and summer vacations outdoors camping, or every once in a fat tax return we were lucky enough to take a road trip.
So, this weekend I decided to find out what many tourist in Montana are drawn to: the Montana Resort Experience.
The resort: Meadow Lake Resort
The place: Columbia Falls, Montana
Activity: Last day of skiing on Whitefish Mountain
Columbia Falls gets its name from its location on the South Fork of the Flathead River, one of the headwaters of the Columbia River and from its location in the shadow of Columbia Mountain.
Columbia Falls is a small community located just 17 miles south of West Glacier. The town prides itself as “The Gateway to Glacier National Park”.
It is also the gateway to the to the Flathead Rivers, part of the Nation’s Wild and Scenic River System. With over 225 miles of river to choose from there is something for everyone, from fly fishing to whitewater rafting. Columbia Falls is also only a stone’s throw from the up-scale tourist town of Whitefish, but carries a more mellow country vibe. The residents here pride themselves in maintaining a small-town atmosphere and a sense of community spirit. Montana Tourism website provides some great links and information on the area.
What a perfect place to put a resort! Meadow Lakes Resort is also an RCI Gold Crown Resort that offers Vacation Ownership and RCI points. If you have a spare 90 minutes, they would be happy to tell you all about it.
Upon check-in I grabbed a table near the window at the resort’s restaurant Truby’s. I am already enamored and enjoying myself as an undercover local “tourist.” I ordered the cheapest drink on the menu, which happens to be a $2 16oz. PBR (I like this place already!) It is raining outside, which makes me feel sad because I have packed all my snowboarding gear in hopes of eking out one last day on the slopes tomorrow at Whitefish Mountain, and I don’t want to spend the day boarding in slush!
As I looked out the window two children from somewhere in the resort appeared in front of an outdoor fireplace. They are opening something and seem very excited. One of them has a stick. The rain is dumping off a canopy outside and I can’t tell if they even notice they are getting soaked. I watch as they start roasting marshmallows over an outdoor propane-fed fireplace, a version of what I had enjoyed for so many years outdoors camping with my family.
I suddenly realized it doesn’t matter if you are recreating at a resort, camping in a tent, or road tripping through the state; Montana is what you make of it. If these kids can have fun roasting marshmallows over propane flames in the rain, I am going to buck up and enjoy every last minute snowboarding and pond skimming closing weekend at Whitefish Mountain, rain or shine!
And even if I do get soaking wet and end up cold, I have a nice warm hot tub waiting for me back at the resort.