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Winter Biking in Western Montana + Glacier National Park

things to do in the winter

Fat Biking Fat Biking in Glacier Country

Fat Biking in Glacier Country

You've likely noted that we like to play outdoors here all year long. For cyclists and mountain bikers, that can be tricky when the ground is covered in snow, but we don’t let that stop us. Instead, we dust off our fat bikes and hit the trails. Equipped with extra-wide tires, fat bikes are perfect for snowy road and trail conditions, and they happen to be wildly fun. The wide tires and low tire pressure allow the bike to “float” on the snow instead of sinking into it. Not only can mountain bikers get their fix all year, but fat biking is one of the fastest growing winter activities in the country.

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Fat biking is an exhilarating adventure and a great way to cover some winter terrain while breathing in the fresh mountain air. If you can ride a bike you can ride a fat bike, and you can do it on any snow-packed road or trail where biking is permitted. With miles of trails plus plenty of bike shops offering up trail maps and directions as well as bike rentals, a two-wheeled winter adventure in Western Montana is an easy activity to wrap your head around, and one you won’t forget.

Whitefish and Missoula are two of the best destinations for fat biking in Glacier Country. You can bring your own bike or rent one from a local outfitter or bike shop.

The local bike shops and adventure services listed below can get you outfitted for a fat bike adventure and point you in the right direction.

Note: If snow conditions are soft enough to leave deep ruts, riding is discouraged. It ruins the trail and is almost impossible to ride anyway. Fat biking is not permitted on groomed cross-country ski trails.

Avalanche safety should always be top of mind when you’re headed into the deep stuff. Carry avalanche safety gear, know the red flags of an unstable snowpack, check the avalanche forecast, and get educated in avalanche safety.

Renting a Fat Bike

The Whitefish Bike Retreat and some local bike shops in Missoula, Whitefish and Kalispell offer fat bike rentals. Call a local bike shop in your travel area for more information.

Montana residents wishing to bike on snowmobile trails are required to pay $20 for a Snowmobile Trail Pass, which is valid for two seasons (July 1st through June 30). This pass is required for riding converted snow bikes, fat bikes and e-bikes on groomed snowmobile trails. Out-of-state visitors riding these bikes on groomed trails in Montana are required to purchase a Nonresident Temporary Use Permit for $35, valid for two seasons (July 1 through June 30) and obtained by calling Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks department headquarters at 406.444.2535 or visiting their website.

Here’s a list of popular Glacier Country fat biking destinations.


Twin Creeks

Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Round-Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
From Missoula, head east on Montana Highway 200 and turn at Twin Creek Road at mile marker 9.

16 miles of Twin Creeks/Gold Creek is Missoula’s closest/only trail system groomed for fat biking. East of town, this trail is open to the public. This is a volunteer-run grooming effort, so check their facebook page for updates before you head out.


Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness

Level: Easy
Round-Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
From Missoula, head north on Van Buren Street, which turns into Rattlesnake Drive. Follow for 4 miles until you reach the turn off, which will lead you to the parking lot.

Fat bikers can ride down the main "cherry stem" of the Rattlesnake, which is usually packed down due to foot traffic. However, bikers are required to stay off any parts of the trail that are groomed.


Beaver Lake Recreation Area

Level: Easy/Intermediate/Advanced
Round-Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
From downtown Whitefish, continue north on U.S. Highway 93. After about 7 miles, take a right onto Beaver Lake Road. Drive roughly 1.5 miles on Beaver Lake Road to the trailhead on the right.

The Beaver Lake Area consists of more than 12 miles of gravel roads that get packed down from ice fishing traffic to the several small scenic lakes in the area. There’s also a volunteer-groomed trail alongside the roads that you can utilize when the roads are not packed down. Dogs are allowed on the trails.

Dog Creek Nordic Ski Center

Level: Easy/Intermediate
Round-Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
From Whitefish, take U.S. Highway 93 north for 21 miles and turn left at Dog Creek Lodge & Nordic Ski Center, 8775 U.S. Highway 93 N.

Dog Creek Nordic Ski Center maintains 16 miles of groomed Nordic trails open between mid-December and the end of March. This Nordic trail system is unique in that it exists both on private land as well as on Stillwater State Forest land. Fat bikes can be rented on-site. Trail passes are required, and a portion of every trail pass sold directly supports Montana public schools! All Dog Creek trails are dog friendly, but dogs and owners must follow site rules; if you plan to bring your dog, know before you go.

Round Meadow

Level: Easy/Intermediate
Round-Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
From Whitefish, take U.S. Highway 93 north and turn west at the Round Meadow sign on Farm to Market Road. Drive approximately one mile and turn onto Star Meadows Road #539 for another mile and then turn at the Round Meadow sign.

Round Meadow is a multiuse National Forest trail system offering four trails ranging from easy to intermediate. There is a parking lot off Star Meadows Road with a trail map and pit toilet. Fat bikers are not permitted on the cross-country ski tracks and must ride along the side of the groomed trails so skiers can have the middle lane. Dogs are allowed on the trails.

Whitefish Bike Retreat

Level: Easy
Round-Trip Distance: 2 Miles

Getting Here:
From Whitefish, take U.S. Highway 93 north toward Eureka for 7 miles. At milepost 135, turn right onto Beaver Lake Road. Continue for 1.3 miles and turn right into Whitefish Bike Retreat.

Perfect or beginners, the Whitefish Bike Retreat (WBR) offers small groomed loops around the property including about a mile of groomed packed trail winding through the woods that connects to the Whitefish Trail and the Beaver Lake Recreation Area roads. Enjoy single track fun on-site, and make it an overnight adventure at WBR’s cozy lodging. Trails are free to the public, though donations are encouraged. Riders must sign in at the WBR office. Fat bike rentals are available. Day-use parking on-site.

The Whitefish Trail

Level: Intermediate/Advanced
Round Trip Distance: Varies

Getting Here:
Click here for directions to all of The Whitefish Trail’s trailheads.

This growing network of trails outside Whitefish offers plenty of year-round biking fun. You can access the 3-mile Beaver Lake Loop from the Beaver Lake Trailhead or the Whitefish Bike Retreat. Both the Beaver Lake and Lion Mountain trails get packed down by foot traffic. You can ride from downtown Whitefish out to the Lookout Trail from the Lion Mountain Trailhead. Parking is available at Lion Mountain Trailhead, Beaver Lake Trailhead or Whitefish Bike Retreat. Dogs are allowed on the trails.

Many travelers to Montana wisely plan their trips to include both of our national parks: Glacier and Yellowstone. To help make the most of your time, we’ve put together several road-trip itineraries that offer adrenaline-fueled, authentic park-to-park experiences, including fat biking. For inspiration, visit Glaciers to Geysers.

Recreate Responsibly Plan Ahead, Play it Safe, and Leave No Trace.

Featured Listings

Other Listings

Alberton Orchards

  • 1022 Sawmill Gulch Road Alberton, MT 59820
  • 406.380.3308
  • Visit Website

Tamaracks Resort

  • 3481 State Highway 83 N., Mile Marker 17 Seeley Lake, MT 59868
  • 406.677.2433
  • Visit Website
News from Glacier National Park Currently, 12 miles of the Going-to-the-Sun Road are open for travel.

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