The Ultimate Guide to Biking Whitefish Montana and Glacier National Park

Whitefish Mountain / Big Mountain Road (15 miles, 1850′ gain)

If you consider yourself a road rider in Whitefish, you’re going to climb Whitefish Mountain sooner or later. In part, because it’s a right of passage, but mostly because of its breathtaking views. Along the way, you’ll see Whitefish Lake, Whitefish Mountain, and downtown Whitefish. Sometimes, you can even see all three at once.

The start of this ride is very similar to the Lakeshore Drive Route. Only you turn up Big Mountain Road at mile 2.5. You can see that point on the elevation profile. That’s where it starts getting steep. You’ll be gaining 1,600′ over the next 5 miles with a steady 6% climb. The shoulder is extra wide here to facilitate snow removal in the winter, and traffic is generally light, especially if you’re heading up in the morning before summer resort hours (10:00 am).

The Big Mountain Road climb is a fantastic ride all by itself, but there are a couple of ways you can pimp your ride to make it even better. First off, there are some excellent restaurants at the resort. It might be awkward to show up at the James Beard-nominated Café Kandahar in biking clothes (only open from 6–9:30 pm, btw), but you should be just fine taking the lift up and eating at the Summit House. Secondly, on the way back down, detour on Ridge Run Drive and explore some manicured mountain top mansions to add a couple of extra miles to your ride. (Side note, this was my old hood. I was just a humble ski instructor, but I got a sick deal renting out a caretaker apartment under one of the homes, and now I’m ruined for life. Nothing else can compare!)

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