The Mission Valley lies at the southern end of Flathead Lake and at the foot of the Mission Mountains with peaks rising to 10,000 feet. The views alone are worth the trip to northwest Montana.
Flathead Lake, of course, provides a variety of fun activities across a spectrum of water sports, swimming, fishing, exploring Wild Horse Island, rafting and kayaking on the Flathead River, along with all of the in-town attractions. The town of Bigfork, for example, has a live theater, fine dining, a 27-hole golf course, art galleries and more.
But there are also the educational and historical aspects. The entire Mission Valley, over a million acres, is located within the Flathead Indian Reservation. This reservation is the home of the Kootenai and Salish tribes. You can visit the reservation and enjoy both guided and self-guided tours, a casino, and even tipi camping. If you arrange to arrive before the Fourth of July, you will be in time for the annual Indian PowWow held in Arlee where authentic Native American dancers perform in full regalia. You can learn the history of these tribes from their own point of view and participate in Native American games, arts and crafts, and visit the museum of Indian history.
The Arlee PowWow lasts for four days. The starting date changes from year to year but always includes July 4. Visit Montana’s travel site for more information on this year’s PowWow.
The National Bison Range is another must-see attraction in the Mission Valley area. The National Bison Range is a 19,000 acre refuge located in Moise, Montana, where large herds of buffalo roam free. There are two self-guided automobile tours through the range. One tour takes about two hours and the other is only about a one-half hour trip. For safety you are advised to stay in your car except for designated picnic areas along the way.
The bison range is situated in a part of the Mission Valley that is believed to be exactly as it was before the encroachment of the white man upon the area. You will see large herds of grazing buffalo, as well as herds of elk, deer and antelope. It is also not uncommon to see a bear in the area.
The National Bison Range was established in 1908 to provide a natural habitat refuge for an authentic buffalo herd. The range is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where you can find more information.