Whitefish, MT, Sept. 27--From late September through October, Whitefish, MT offers one of the most unique fall seasons in the nation, a two-stage color transformation. First, the tamarack trees turn a soft shade of gold. Later, hardwood trees take on hues of yellow and orange. The timing of these transitions gives northwestern Montana its 'dual autumn' color scheme.
A sea kayak trip on the 6-mile long Whitefish Lake is one of the best ways to enjoy the autumn splendor, and the City Beach area is the perfect staging area for a kayak trip. Before leaving stop by the Whitefish Times deli for the day's fuel. Local kayak outfitters offer rentals, lessons, and guided treks. Sea kayaks, 18-feet long and very stable, make trips 'doable' for virtually any age and ability.
For a delightful day trip, cruise along the shores of Whitefish Lake and then head down the Whitefish River, which flows from the lake just a few hundred yards from City Beach. The gentle river winds through the city and beyond, and is resplendent with fall colors and abundant wildlife. Osprey, trumpeter swans, herons, kingfishers, and beavers are just a few species paddlers can expect to see. A 6-mile 'float' with moderate paddling takes about three hours.
Afterwards, head down to the sampling room of the Great Northern Brewery in Whitefish for a beer tasting. A four-brew tester is complimentary (if you tip the bartender).
Kayak lessons are available through the Headwaters Kayak School (406-862-5775) and guided trips can be set up with Whitefish Sea Kayaking through the Montana Adventure Company (877-223-0742).