Columbia Falls, MT
Columbia Falls is nestled in the northeast corner of the Flathead Valley, just northeast of Kalispell and 17 miles west of Glacier National Park on U.S. Highway 2. Called "The Gateway to Glacier," Columbia Falls is the last major town on Highway 2 before Glacier National Park from the west.
It is also the beginning of the North Fork Road (County Road 486), a rustic and scenic alternative route to Glacier Park through the park's Camas Creek entrance. The road follows along the North Fork of the Flathead River, which forms the Western boundary of the park and has been designated a Wild and Scenic River. The North Fork Road extends 69 miles to Canada and offers many opportunities for hiking, biking, camping and snowmobiling in the beautiful wilderness along the way. You'll also find the town of Polebridge, a tiny community that has chosen to remain unserved by electricity or paved roads.
Ten miles east of Columbia Falls is the town of Hungry Horse and the Hungry Horse Dam and Reservoir, which offers excellent fishing, boating, camping, water-skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and hunting. Completed in 1953, Hungry Horse Dam is Montana's highest dam, and the world's eleventh largest concrete dam. Tours of the dam are offered during the summer season.
With its close proximity to the Flathead River, Columbia Falls serves as a starting point for rafting trips, fishing expeditions, and other water adventures. In July, the town hosts Heritage Days, with a rodeo, parade, street dance, craft fair, car show, basketball tournament, and 5K and 10K runs. Other summertime activities include golf at the 18-hole Meadow Lake Golf Resort, outdoor concerts, a water park, miniature golf, hiking on Columbia Mountain, biking and more. The City of Columbia Falls maintains about 28 acres of park land, with baseball and soccer fields, picnic areas, playgrounds, a waterfall and a band shell. The city also operates the Pinewood Family Aquatic Center, a 25-meter competitive swimming pool and a leisure pool.
Wintertime activities include cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling on more than 200 miles of groomed trails and nearly 2,000 miles of National Forest Service roads that extend through pristine alpine forests, along ridges with spectacular views, and into deep powder bowls. The city is just minutes away from two major downhill ski resorts, Whitefish Mountain Resort and Blacktail Mountain.
Columbia Falls' population is about 4,180, and residents pride themselves on maintaining its small-town, family-oriented character. The town is home to a variety of industrial businesses, including Columbia Falls Aluminum Company, Plum Creek and Stoltz Land and Lumber. For visitors, it provides dining and accommodations with Montana flavor and value.