Beginning Dec. 20 and stretching through New Year’s Day, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is hosting a suite of educational programs and activities at its state parks in the Flathead Valley, including a “First Day Expedition” with prizes and an introduction to snowshoeing workshop.
Below is a list of local activities available in the final days of December and on New Year’s Day:
Junior Ranger To-go Kit: Winter Wildlife
Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center, 300 Lone Pine Road; beginning Wednesday, Dec. 20 and available as supplies last
This Junior Ranger to-go kit helps kids and families celebrate the school holiday break with winter wildlife activities to earn a state parks Junior Ranger badge. The kit includes lesson plans, activities and provided materials. Each kit comes in a brown paper bag that can be repurposed for a recycled holiday craft. Each kit is geared toward grades 2nd through 6th.
Parents and their kids can pick up the kits from Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell during visitor center hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Kits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until gone.
Cost is free ($8 park entry fee still applies to out-of-state vehicles).
Adventure Backpack Loaner Program
Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center, 300 Lone Pine Road; program runs through the end of the year
Kids and adults alike can enjoy learning more about Lone Pine State Park by hiking with an adventure backpack. Borrow this backpack from the visitor center and take it out on the trail.
The backpack is stuffed with field guides, binoculars, hand lenses and information to take you on a self-guided nature hike. The adventure backpack is available on a first-come, first-served basis from the visitor center front desk.
There is no cost for participants, although an $8 park entry fee still applies to out-of-state vehicles.
The program runs the rest of the month, Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday, 12:30 to 3 p.m.
Intro to Snowshoeing Workshop
Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center, 300 Lone Pine Road; workshop scheduled for Dec. 30
Lone Pine will host an Intro to Snowshoeing workshop on December 30 at noon to kick off the winter season. The cost will be $4 per person, which includes 45 minutes of instruction in snowshoe fit, skills and snow safety using the park’s rental equipment, as well as a snowshoe rental for the rest of the day. Participants can keep their rental gear until 3 p.m. if they want to take a self-guided hike on the trails at Lone Pine following the program.
Space is limited to 12 participants in each session, so call (406) 755- 2706, ext. 0 to reserve your spot.
Snowshoes are also available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis during visitor center hours. The Lone Pine visitor center is open year-round, Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. For visitors not registered for a guided hike or workshop, the cost to rent snowshoes is $5 per pair or $10 for a group of up to five people.
$8 park entry fee still applies to out-of-state vehicles.
First Day Expedition
Lone Pine State Park, Flathead Lake State Park and Somers Beach State Park
On the first day of 2024, the public is invited to participate in a winter expedition at select local state parks with an opportunity to win prizes.
To earn points, participants must take a photograph of each activity and submit it by email to [email protected]. Photos, names of participants, and miles hiked or ran must be submitted by email by 6 p.m. on Jan. 3 to be entered to win prizes. All activities must occur at either Flathead Lake State Park, Lone Pine State Park or Somers Beach State Park.
For more information, call the ranger station at Wayfarers, (406) 837-3041, ext. 0.
Points breakdown: 2 points per mile per person hiked/ran; 10 points per person for wading into the lake at least ankle deep; 10 points extra per park if you travel to more than one state park. Pictures of you at the entrance signs required as proof; 1 point per deer picture (at a safe distance); 1 point per bird picture (at a safe distance); extra point per bird you correctly identify; 5 points for having a picnic; 5 points for a sunrise picture (must be time-stamped on Jan. 1); 2 points for a snow angel (or other angel if no snow is present); 15 points to attend the Somers Beach State Park Guided Hike.
1st place: Two nights at either Big Arm Unit of Flathead Lake State Park yurt or Finley Point Unit of Flathead Lake State Park cabin
2nd place: 13-liter Osprey daypack
3rd place: $40 at either Lone Pine State Park or Flathead Lake Ranger Station gift shop
Somers Beach State Park First Day Hike
Somers Beach State Park, Monday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m.
Start the new year off with a guided hike at Somers Beach State Park. The guided hike will start at 10 a.m. on Jan. 1 at Somers Beach State Park, meeting at the trailhead. This hike will last roughly 1.5 hours and will be about 1 mile.
This is a winter hike, so participants should come prepared with appropriate clothing for the weather. Wearing ice cleats is strongly encouraged.
The hike is limited to 20 participants. Please call (406) 751-5423 to reserve your spot.
Learn more about Montana’s state parks at https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks.
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