Written by J.L. Haler
My mom’s favorite location is Glacier National Park. She hasn’t been in over a decade so this year the kids and I decided to take her. We went there several times when I was a kid and it’s where Steve and I spent our honeymoon. There are a multitude of activities in and near Glacier.
Just before you get into Glacier (coming from Kalispell) there are some spots I remember as a kid, the House of Mystery, and The Amazing Fun Center. And some new ones including zip-lining, tree adventures, rock walls and more at Glacier Highline. If we had more time I would have spent a day at the highline doing all their fabulous activities. But we did get to The Amazing Fun Center.
The fun park has a giant maze, bumper boats, mini-golf, go-carts, and bankshot basketball.
I’d been telling the kids all about the maze and how their dad and I did it on our honeymoon. They were excited to give a try and thought it might feel like they were on Survivor. 😊 The maze has wooden walls that you can see under if you want to with a tower in each of the four corners. You are given a card that you stamp as you go in with your starting time. Your goal is to get a stamp at each of the four towers then find your way out. There are several easy ways out and one difficult way out. The Haler puzzle solving gene runs strong in my family so we had to find the difficult way out. My kids just look at me like it’s not even a question. But for those with less competitive streaks or little ones who want to find the exit there are easier ways to get out.
Within the maze are clues on the walls if you would like to look at them but again, my family tends to go all out. So, no clues for us. We wound our way through wooden walls, split apart to find the best routes, and planned our attempts with views from the towers. There is also an attendant on one of the upper levels of the maze that will help you out if needed and a viewing platform for those who want to watch the fun but not participate in the problem solving.
We did find the difficult way out and gladly stamped our end time on our cards. We completed the maze in 55 minutes and that was at a walking pace because it was in the 90’s that day and we were hot, not much shade in the maze. We had a blast watching families split up and compete yelling at each other as they went, kids rushing around and problem-solving, and others getting into the towers and attempting to mark pathways to their next destination.
This is a nice family location to do some activities for all ages. They sell water/soda, and ice cream. But if you are looking for full lunches then there are some restaurants close by. If you want to have your own Survivor experience 😊 or just want to have fun walking in a maze then make sure to check out the Amazing Fun Center.
An obstacle course set up in the trees is right up my alley. But before we were allowed to adventure in the branches, we were given full harnesses and run through a safety talk showing us how to clip and unclip ourselves. There are two safety ropes for everyone. One is locked and one is unlocked the whole time. In order to unlock from one platform or obstacle you must first lock into the next section. This will unlock your other clip, which you then clip next to the locked one. Might sound confusing, but in reality was quite simple. Everyone is always safe and secure, and it took moments to transfer from one obstacle to the next.
Your ticket purchase allows you two hours of climbing and you can choose from five different courses. Doing as many as you can finish in your time span. We managed to make it through four of the five, missing the last one, which was the most difficult. The hours were spent flying, climbing, sliding, crawling, and jumping. Some obstacles were a snap to finish and others took work or getting tips from those in front of you.
We were disappointed we ran out of time to finish the last one, but quite honestly, we were all tired from the other four. The safety crew on duty told us the last one is difficult and would take a significant amount of time to finish. My husband was bummed we didn’t get to it and was tempted to lengthen our trip just for the purpose of coming back to it the next day. That elusive, last course. The most difficult of them all. I wouldn’t be surprised if we went back one day just for that.
Another perk was encountering other families with kids of all ages. We caught up to a family from England with two little ones. Their father was with them and was one of the most patient people I have ever seen. He would slowly talk his kids through each of the obstacles while he took up the rear. It was amazing to watch these small kids and the pride they had in themselves when they finished their course.
This was an exciting, fun-filled, family adventure. One of those experiences where we worked together as a team, encouraged, and helped each other.
Written by J.L. Haler
Ever since I was a kid I’ve wanted to fly. Getting my pilot's license was something I dreamed of as a child, flying helicopters and soaring over the treetops like the birds. I don’t have my pilot's license but the thought of flying over the treetops on a zipline brought that same awe and excitement from my childhood forth.
The excitement in all of us was evident in our non-stop smiles as we waited to zoom across mountain peaks and over the treetops. There are different options at Whitefish and we selected the seven zipline option. First, we were fitted with harnesses and helmets. This is where I discovered that, apparently, I have a tiny head as all the adult sized helmets were way too large. I was given a youth helmet. We were then shuffled off to a room to watch a safety video showing us how to carry our equipment as well as the positions to hold our bodies in. Not so exciting, but an important part of the adventure.
Finally, we were off. The guides at the resort were kind, helpful, friendly, and had a great sense of humor. They started us off on a small zipline, low to the ground so everyone could practice their positions and ask any questions if needed. There was some hiking involved in-between zips but nothing too strenuous.
We were in a group with other families so had ample time to strike up conversations with each other as we waited for our turns. We met some wonderful people.
My favorite zip was the fourth one. At 1900’ long and 300’ up it was thrilling. Long enough have a chance to enjoy the view around you and high enough to have the thrill of flight. I finally had my chance to soar through the air like a bird, flying above the earth. And of course, since they sent two at a time, side-by-side, there was a bit of competition to see who could zoom the fastest.
There are requirements for weight, clothing, loose items, etc. So make sure to check out their website for the details.
It starts with a chair lift ride to the top of the mountain. These are always fun to do: sit back, kick your legs, and enjoy the view. Once at the top, you hand an attendant your ticket, load up into a little cart, and take off. The slide itself is a third of a mile long with twists, turns, and bumps. You control your speed with a lever. The five of us took the slide at full throttle. Not nearly as fast as sledding can get but still quite fun. Every one of us finished with a huge smile on our face.
Whitefish Resort offers a discount when you purchase four tickets at a time, so we bought two four packs. We gave the kids the extra tickets, so they were lucky enough to ride a second time each. So, while I didn’t get to zoom down the mountain again, I did get to watch their smiling faces as they pulled into the ending platform.
We would have loved to do the slide several more times, but this was our last day at Whitefish and we had a five-hour drive ahead of us. But I won’t bore you with the time we spend in the car. I will, however, tell you about resort.
I called ahead and, after talking on the phone, got a great rate for renting a condo for three nights as well as paying for the whole family to participate in some of the summer activities.
This was the first time we’d ever rented a condo, and we were shocked at how much we enjoyed it. You can pick what kind of condo you are looking for; ours had two bathrooms, enough comfortable beds for everyone, and an appliance stocked kitchen. This meant it was very easy for us to prepare our own food and save money from eating out. Making our own food is always a nice option for us as we have some food allergy issues to deal with. The condo was also walking distance to the main lobby and stores making it convenient to stop by and grab anything we needed. Every worker we encountered from the lobby to the activities to the shops was kind and helpful.
The views all over the mountain were gorgeous. I mean how can you go wrong staying high in the mountains. The place must be breathtaking in the winter, I can see why it’s a hotspot for the winter holidays.
The one thing we missed out on was hiking the Danny On Trail. We simply ran out of time, but hope to go back to it one day.
Kootenai Falls, MT. (In-between Troy and Libby)
Recently I decided to take the kids out to Kootenai Falls as we had never been there. We grabbed my mom for the trip and headed out. It’s just over a two-hour drive to get there from CDA and thankfully my kids are old enough that we can handle trips like that without too much problem.
The parking for the Falls is right off the highway. It seems more like a rest stop than a place to go to see a waterfall, but it was quite convenient. There is a picnic area and small concessions stand and a couple of bathrooms.
You begin the trail winding through some pretty forest and then crossing a bridge that takes you over some train tracks. Continuing down a couple flights of stairs you walk a short distance until you reach a sign saying Kootenai Falls to the right and Swinging Bridge to the left.
We decided to hit the Falls first and walked the short distance to the falls. And man! What a view! Across the river you could see animal trails on the mountains but the falls took my breath away. Because of the layered rock under the water there are many little mini falls which then fall into several large falls where the river divides and flows around other islands in the water. My kids found a tree to climb and we snapped a ton of photos of the water. With the varying levels of rock, it is a place that would be worth seeing at different times of the year.
We walked down a small trail near the water, the small trail is doable but filled with loose shards of rock so you want to watch your step and be careful with little ones. Climbing up a bit we found ourselves at the top of the falls and got to play in the water a bit. Mostly we dipped our feet in. There are some nice shallows but also some swift moving water so it’s important to watch where you are playing.
After playing at the falls we headed for the swinging bridge. This was about a third of a mile from the sign and was a lot of fun. You have to be patient as only five people are allowed on the bridge at one time and is really only wide enough for one. Each side must take turns crossing. But eventually we made our way across the river and found a nice small beach to rest at. It was so relaxing there. We played in the water a bit and listened to the river flowing past. We found some cool rocks and again played in the water. After we were done messing around we went back to the trail. You can continue on the trail to meet up with some other hikes but we headed back to the car. Of course, on the way we climbed more rocks, ledges and trees.
Once back at the rest site we stopped to eat the picnic lunch we had packed. There are some nice picnic tables to eat at and we picked the one that had a carved wooden bear sitting at it. All because my daughter loves bears. :) The concession stand has water and snacks but most of the snacks are sugary and would be considered junk food. After eating hopped back in the car an headed back to CDA. If you haven’t been out to Kootenai Falls, it is well worth the drive.
I love spending time with my family doing all the wonderful activities in the Inland Northwest.