There are many ways to enjoy Great Falls | Montana’s Basecamp for Art & Adventure in the Winter. The crisp air, fresh snow, and blue skies welcome you to experience the city in a multitude of ways. The nearby Little Belt Mountains and Showdown Ski Area features natural Montana snow, and is Montana’s first ski hill. Down the mountain, Silver Crest Trails is one of the only mixed-use winter sport areas in Montana. Nordic skiers, snow-shoeing enthusiasts, snowmobilers and dogsledders enjoy these highly accessible US Forest Service lands. When the pond freezes at Gibson Park, you can find iceskaters enjoying a perfect winter day. But don’t take my word for it; listen to the adventures from Great Falls Champions that use Great Falls as their winter basecamp.
Ice Fishing in Great Falls
In Great Falls, we are passionate about outdoor adventures, and we use any excuse to get out on the water, regardless of the weather. In Great Falls, there is no need to stay inside during the long winter months waiting for the sun to come out and dreaming about open water and summer fun. This winter, come to Great Falls; be adventurous, bundle up, get outside, and try ice fishing! Ice fishing can be fast and furious when winter freezes the water and best of all, the crowds are small, so you can enjoy breathtaking scenery in peace.
Bundle up and walk onto a frozen patch of water on a clear and crisp winter day with all the fishing gear you need. After you find the perfect fishing spot, drill a large hole completely through the ice until you can see open water. When your hands get cold, grab a thermos of Montana’s best coffee to warm up. Later, cook the lunch you brought on an open stove. A perfect day outdoors! People enjoy ice fishing for the solitude of being out on a frozen lake and the challenge of the sport. This winter, why not try ice fishing and open your senses to an exciting winter event? Fred Telleen with North 40 can provide expert tips, advice, and information to make your day safe, fun, and unforgettable!
Special thanks to Fred Telleen with North 40
Backpacking and Hiking
I get a rush of blood when I climb to a summit. Since moving to Montana 3 years ago, I have climbed so many beautiful but bizarre ice and rock formations. It’s an alien and brutal landscape up there, where nothing co-exists except rock and ice. I love the feeling of frigid air on my face, and the terror and amazement of climbing across a high knife-edged ridge far above everything below. I enjoy winter hiking in Montana because of the challenge you face, the beauty you see, and the excitement you feel. There is really nothing like it, and some of the best winter hikes are a short drive from Great Falls, including one of my favorites, Scalplock Trail in Glacier National Park. The 3,500ft elevation gain in 4 miles ends with beautiful views and seriously sweaty hikers! Almost every weekend, I get my backpack ready for a great hike, even if I go alone!
Special thanks to Adam Talbert
There are several areas near Great Falls to enjoy caving during the winter. Lower elevation caves in the Island Ranges are accessible year around. Great Falls is a basecamp during winter for more serious caving on the Rocky Mountain Front and Bob Marshall Wilderness during winter. The Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto (Montana’s only statewide cave organization) has several resources to provide a safe and wonderful experience as well as information on conservation guidelines for bats and other wildlife. Winter in Montana’s Island Ranges offer exciting and exhilarating caving for both experienced and beginning cavers. The Rocky Mountain Front offers opportunities for experienced cavers and true alpine caving. Using Great Falls as your basecamp, there are 30-40 known caves within a short drive and even more unknown caves. I have enjoyed winter caving for 10 years, and my favorite memory of winter caving in the Island Range is cross country skiing to cave, caving amid ice formations, and having a nice cup of hot chocolate before skiing back to the car. This winter, get underground in the Island Ranges!
Special thanks to Zach Angstead
Cross Country Skiing
Coming from Texas, skiing was foreign to me. When I moved to Great Falls, I knew I needed to take advantage of the surrounding winter wonderland, but with little to no skills and a mild terror of downhill skiing, I didn’t know where to start. I attend a free cross-counting skiing workshop put on by Bighorn Outdoor Specialists and fell in love. Cross-country skiing was like dancing, running, and gliding on snow while exploring the tranquility of winter at my own pace. Whether it is the groomed trails at Silver Crest, or taking the dogs along Jefferson Creek (outside Neihart near memorial Falls), I can grab my morning coffee, load up my skis and within an hour, I’m in paradise. There are few cars, few people, no lines to wait in, no lift ticket to purchase; just me, my skis and the snow calling my name. Snow Shoeing and Cross Country Skiing is a great way to enjoy Great Falls’ rustic beauty. Bighorn rents Snow Shoeing equipment for as little as $15/day or $20 for the whole weekend and Bighorn offers free clinics throughout the winter to help you find a great course to explore.
Special thanks to Abigail Lichliter
Art & Culture
In between outdoor adventures, explore the artistic side of Great Falls with live music at one of the many venues around town, a walking tour of the Urban Art project, or a world-class performance at the Mansfield Center. Upcoming shows include Rent, Dirty Dancing, Ringling 5, Forever Young, and Love is in the Air! After your perfect winter adventure in Great Falls, settle into your room for a warm and relaxing night’s sleep. Winter has never been more exciting than it is in Great falls!