Lone Pine State Park Visitor Center in Kalispell, Montana
You can reach the Visitor Center in Lone Pine State Park just outside of Kalispell. Read my blog about Lone Pine State Park for directions.
This visitor center is one of the best I have been in. All visitor centers have animals and information — but they tend to start to look the same. I get bored if I see the same information again and again.
Of course, the center has awesome animals to view.
I personally love to see wolves. They are really large animals, and are very cool to see up close. There is no verbage on the wolf display at this center. The woman at the center told us that hopefully they will get a description for the display soon for people to read, but she filled us in. The wolves at this center are from the “Hog Heaven Wolf Pack” out of Marion, Montana, from 2009. The Hog Heaven Wolf Pack was one of the biggest wolf packs known — at 27 wolves!! That is a lot of wolves living together.
I think from what I understood that humans killed the wolves because they were killing cattle and causing problems for humans — but please, correct me if I’m wrong! I tried to do some research on this pack myself and was not able to find much. Any information you can offer, please post in the comments for others to read.
The fun thing about this visitor center is the displays they have to offer. They have some things that I have not seen before at other visitor centers, but it is possible I just missed other displays while visiting other places.
One of my favorite displays was this “Bear Activity” display. The display consists of a map of the Flathead County area, and you can press different buttons representing different bears and mountain lions. When you press the buttons, the display lights up with different “dots,” each representing reported animal run-ins with humans (for example, a bear reported getting into trash). It will surprise you to see the number of dots that light up!
You will see a large number of lighted dots around Whitefish Lake. Just past the turn to Whitefish Mountain Resort at Big Mountain, driving along Whitefish Lake (although you can’t see the lake most of the way, due to the trees), I have often seen black bears crossing the road. So, note to self, this is a place to see bears if you are looking. It also tells me why there are such a large number of lighted dots on the display along the lake.
Another cool display is a bulletin board that has information on the “Grizzly Bear that swam Flathead Lake.”
I didn’t take a close-up of the Flathead Lake map that tracked the bear, but you can see on the bottom middle photo in the picture I have above, a picture of Flathead Lake, with many red dots on it. Each red dot represents a period of four hours, so it can be seen how long it took the bear to swim the lake. Pretty amazing!! The bear lost its radio collar in 2011, and hasn’t been heard from since.
There is an awesome room in the back that offers different classes throughout the year, including classes for kids. You can ask the person working at the visitor center for more information on these programs each year.
There is so much great information about Montana and animals throughout the building.
Another thing I loved was the “Pygmy Owl,” the owl with the false eyes in the back of its head. You can see the owl if you open the door in the tree. (A fun thing for kids!)
I have to say that the woman working at the Lone Pine Visitor Center was extremely knowledgeable, and so nice!! She was so helpful, and walked us throughout the entire building, explaining the displays while still helping other people do the same. She was very excited about everything, and seemed to really love her job. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch her name, but I hope she knows how much we appreciated her help.
If you make it to the Kalispell area, the Lone Pine Visitor Center is a wonderful place to stop for a view, and for information! And you won’t miss the gift shop!
Warmest Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Montana Vacation Blog
The Visitor Center is open all year, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays and major holidays.