The Whitefish Range: Glacier’s Forgotten Cousin – Mountain Talk Mondays 001

The United States of America is well known for it’s amazing national parks. Yosemite, Yellowstone, Olympic, and Glacier just to name a few. Unfortunately, this means the other amazing places strewn throughout the country go oft overlooked. That means amazing mountain ranges, which may be just outside your own back door, don’t get the love or credit they deserve.

photo via alltrips.jpg
Photo from alltrips.com

Bearing this in mind, I will be talking about often overlooked mountain ranges throughout not only the US, but also the World on Mondays for the foreseeable future.

Let’ s begin with the Whitefish Mountain Range (or as they call it in Canada – the McDonald/Galton range).

Located due West of Glacier National Park and the north rim of the Flathead Valley, the Whitefish Range encompasses a width of nearly 50 miles and spans from Montana into Canada for nearly 80 miles. Due to the location and low human traffic, it’s a rich range of biodiversity, including; grizzly bear, wolves, and various flora/fauna. For the mountaineers/peakbaggers in the crowd, notable peaks within the Range are: Nasukoin Mountain at 8,086 feet (2465 m), Mount Doupe at 8,740 feet (2664 m), Overfold Mountain at 8,150 feet (2484 m), and Mount Swope at 8,250 feet (2515 m).

Early History

The first human inhabitants of this mountain range were the American Indian tribe known as the Kootenai (or Ktunaxa in tribal tongue). They would use the geography of the land as a pass, place to forage for food, and hunting/fishing grounds. Due to the climate and geography, it provided it a rich harvest of fruits and veggies from mid summer to early fall. In addition, they named various mountains and rivers in the area: Akinkoka Mountain (place of red willows), Nasukoin Mountain (chief), Tuchuck Mountain (thumb) and perhaps the most fun one to say Yakinikak Creek (moose trail).

The Flathead, Salish, and Stoney indian tribes also used the area, but to a lesser extent. The primary uses included passage, hunting, and foraging.

Due to the expansive reach of The Hudson Bay Company, white man’s first exposure to the area was in the early 1800s. Trappers brought many individuals into the range, as it was a very rich environment for game. David Thompson is perhaps the most well known of these trappers, and is thought be the most thorough explorer of the region.

Settlement began sometime in the 1890s, as the US Government established postal offices at Bowman Lake, Trail Creek, Kintla Lake, and Polebridge.

Current Use:

In current times, the Whitefish Range falls into a portion of the Kootenai National Forest and Flathead National Forest. As development continues in the areas to the north and south, these National Forest systems will continue to preserve and protect valuable areas within the range.

whitefish mountain range.jpg
Photo via summitpost.org

 

Most notable within the range is the Ten Lakes recreational area. The Ten Lakes is located to the north, nearly extending into Canada. Designated a scenic area in 1964, it provides a haven to get away from motor vehicles are they are restricted in the area (with the exception of winter snow transport). The area encompasses a total of 6400 acres, and is surrounded by another 19000 acres of protection.

Within the range there are a number of manned lookouts, cabins, and structures that have been standing for years, some as far back as 1922! Some of these lookouts and cabins (that remain maintained) can be rented out for camping purposes or can be used as volunteer lookouts.

There ya have it. Some basics on the Whitefish Range located in NW Montana / Canada. If you’re looking for someplace to explore in the US that has relatively low human traffic and will get you outdoors, this is a very good option!

If you found this content useful and would like more in the future please head over to my Patreon page. Every donation helps produce more outdoor content, so even if you only donate once a month please consider me!

If you’re like me, you enjoy utilizing the national parks every chance you can. I also run an ecommerce store which provides apparel that takes 1% of every sale and donates it to the parks.

Until the next one, get out there and enjoy YOUR adventure!!!

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