WHITEFISH — The Schrams used to vacation in the Flathead Valley, heading to the mountains of Northwest Montana from their home in Bend, Oregon to tackle the biking trails and generally revel in the natural beauty.
As many visitors do, Kurt and Amanda Schram and their two sons fell in love with this place, and when the small family decided to move here, they also decided to take on one of the more-annoying aspects they found while visiting.
“Whenever we vacationed here, we realized it’s really hard to get around the valley, especially if you’re a family of four visiting and wanting to go hiking and biking,” Kurt Schram said. “Even if you have a rental car, you can’t have but maybe one rental bike on it.”
They moved here late last summer, and this summer are ready to launch their new business, Whitefish Shuttle, a service that can take up to 14 people and all their biking and hiking gear at one time to and from their hotels and to the mountain biking trails and into Glacier National Park.
The shuttle also picks up riders from local bike shops, so if they are renting bikes there, they don’t have to try to get back to their lodging to be picked up.
Kurt Schram said the valley’s beauty and availability of great outdoor activities are what attracted his family, attributes that will continue to attract more tourists to visit and explore the Flathead. But the logistics of getting a family of four or five and their bikes onto Going-to-the-Sun Road from Kalispell can put a damper on that excitement pretty quickly, Schram said.
“The parking is horrible in the park,” Schram said of Glacier’s congestion issues.
More than 2.9 million people visited Glacier Park in 2018, a booming number of visitors that keeps growing every year. As a result, the park’s trails and roadways, especially the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road, are getting and staying fuller earlier in the season.
Last summer, the park’s social media services started alerting people when certain parking lots were filled, giving them the signal to head somewhere else. There’s already a free shuttle service offered in the park, but the popularity of the service means it’s often full.
Schram said his business has permission to take visitors to Avalanche Lake during hiker/biker season before Going-to-the-Sun opens fully, and then after that, he can get them to the Lake McDonald Lodge.
A park trip means getting dropped off with your bikes and/or hiking gear and then getting picked up about three hours later, Schram said, without having to wait for a bus or try to navigate parking yourself.
“We offer a seamless experience for our customers,” he said.
Whitefish Shuttle also offers local shuttle services. Cyclists who’d like to take the easy way up Big Mountain in order to fly down on their bikes can meet at the Montana Tap House parking lot at 6 p.m. to be taken to the trailhead on the mountain for $6.
“We’re also available for custom charters, like weddings and bachelor or bachelorette parties,” Schram said.
As avid mountain bikers themselves, the Schrams said they are thrilled to take people to explore the trails and lakeshores they fell in love with, and are excited to be joining in the Whitefish mountain biking scene, which has grown considerably in the last decade.
“We can take (customers) to Going-to-the-Sun, to the Beaver Lake trails, anywhere,” Schram said. “The more trails, the better.”
To make a reservation with Whitefish Shuttle, visit www.whitefishshuttle.com or call (406) 212-0800.