09 February 2011

A Guide to a Montana Winter

We all know that winters in Missoula can get pretty gloomy and we find ourselves just sitting inside waiting for sunny weather.  But there is a cure!  Here are a few upcoming events that you can do this winter in Missoula and the surrounding areas.

Montana Natural History Center:
The Montana Natural History Center offers great activities all year long.  Saturday Discovery Days are offered nearly every month for adults (and families) and feature different educational topics about Montana wildlife.  The Winter Raptor Workshop is this Saturday, February 12th.  Spend an incredible day seeking out raptors with Denver Holt, renowned wildlife researcher, naturalist and founder and president of the Owl Research Institute. Learn winter raptor natural history, gain insight with helpful raptor identification tips and experience the wonder of winter raptors.
For more information about community activities and Saturday Discovery Days click here.

Even though the Master Naturalist classes are full for the winter and summer, you can sign up for our Fall 2011 course!  This is for any adult who is enjoys learning about the natural world, sharing knowledge with others, and supports conservation. If you enjoy hiking, bird watching, following tracks, or identifying wildflowers, you’ll love being a Montana Master Naturalist.  For more information click here.

Montana Winter Events and Festivals:
I recommend going to any winter festival you can.  I just came back from the winter carnival in Whitefish and had a blast!  For all things winter in Montana click here.

On February 19th and 20th, the Northern Division Freestyle Competition is coming to Missoula.  This annual event features the best skiers in the area for moguls, freestyle competition and jumping.  For more information click here.

 If you're willing to take a drive, you can also visit Whitefish on February 19th for the Moonlight Dine and Ski.  Come for an evening of fantastic cuisine and winter adventure. Watch the moon rise from the summit, feast on delicious dishes, top it off with some dessert, then click into your bindings and ski or snowboard down the mountain by moonlight. Or, for guests who prefer, climb aboard the Big Mountain Express chairlift for a smooth cruise back to the village.  For more information click here.
The Moonlight Dine and Ski will also be celebrated on March 19th, for those who cannot make it in February.

Starting February 11 through the 20th Missoula is hosting the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival.  It showcases the best in documentary films from around the world. The festival attracts more than 10,000 people and screens more than 100 films during the week-long event. All films are shown on Montana's largest movie screen at the historic Wilma Theater, downtown Missoula. Filmmakers from around the world will be in attendance to address audiences after their films screen. Tickets and passes are sold at the Wilma Box Office. For more information click here.

And, of course, there's always cross-country skiing and snowshoeing if you need a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors.  Look up snow conditions for surrounding cross-country ski trails here.  This has been a great winter to ski in the Rattlesnake and Pattee Canyon, and getting out for even an hour of exercise in these winter wonderlands is enough to drive away the blues and bring a smile to your face!  You can rent skis and snowshoes quite affordably at places like the Trailhead, REI, the Army-Navy Store, and the University of Montana outdoor program (for Griz card holders).

If any one has other great ideas of things to do this winter don't hesitate to leave a comment.  We'd love to hear some of your ideas!

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