Earth : North America : United States of America : Rocky Mountains (United States of America) : Montana : Northwestern Montana
Northwestern Montana has long relied on its natural resources. Lumber and mining are mainstays of the economy, but those same mountains and forests now draw tourists in great numbers as well. The terrain is some of the most varied in the Mountain West, with the the Bitterroot and Continental Divide branches of the Rocky Mountains flanking it on west and east, leaving a mixture of freshwater lakes, praries, glaciers, rivers, and forests between.
Winter weather is milder than the rest of Montana, due to the shielding effect of the mountains – the average temperature typically floats between 20 and 40 degrees. Spring is rainy and unpredictable, but summer and autumn are consistantly pleasant with late sunsets.
Missoula International Airport (IATA: MSO) and Glacier Park International Airport (IATA: FCO) (near Kalispell) have connections throughout the western United States on several airlines. Despite the names, neither has any scheduled service to Canada.
Interstate 90 passes through Missoula, connecting from Idaho on the west towards Southwestern Montana and Butte on the east. U.S. Route 12 overlaps I-90 through most of western Montana, until diverging at Garrison and continuing east to Helena. Further north, the scenic U.S. Route 2 connects Kalispell and the west entrance to Glacier Park, then skirts the southern boundary of the park as far as East Glacier before entering the plains of North Central Montana.
The major north-south artery is U.S. Route 93, linking almost every city in the region and continuing to Twin Falls, Idaho. Route 93 is prone to clogging with traffic, particularly on summer weekends.
Amtrak operates the Empire Builder service daily between Seattle/Portland and Chicago. Stops are made at Libby, Whitefish, West Glacier, Essex (flag stop), East Glacier (seasonal – summer), Browning (seasonal – winter), and Cut Bank.
Within Glacier, the Going-To-The-Sun Road crosses the park from west to east, offering spectacular panoramas. At the midpoint, the Logan Pass Visitor Center is the base for a variety of short, scenic hiking trails. The park provides shuttle service  from the west entrance, which is recommended for nervous drivers – for much of the westbound drive, the only thing separating the road from a cliff face is an eighteen-inch stone wall! Portions of the road stay open year-round, but the higher elevations and through route are only accessible from June through October, weather permitting.
Outdoor activities galore - camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, boating, golfing, rafting, etc. Between Glacier, numerous state parks, and the private resort areas, it's almost harder to find some place where these aren't options.
Whitewater Rafting and flyfishing are popular activities, particularly during spring and summer months. The Alberton Gorge just west of Missoula is a popular rafting run, with many commercial outfitters offering day tours. Commercial permits are only offered to a handful of outfitters. Other popular rivers for innertube floating include the Clark Fork, Bitterroot, and Blackfoot rivers.
The area has several major ski resorts. Whitefish Mountain  and Blacktail Mountain  are the largest in the Flathead Valley/Kalispell area, and the Montana Snowbowl  is near Missoula. Lookout Pass  straddles the Idaho—Montana state line, allowing the unusual opportunity to ski through two states on one run.
Bears are present throughout the wilderness, as well as the occasional mountain lion.
During the winter, smaller secondary roads are often closed entirely, and even the Interstate can shut down rapidly when the weather turns poor. Verify weather conditions and road status  before setting out, and travel with emergency supplies. Unpaved roads are typically impassable for over half the year.