The Sentinel Pine is a private estate in Bigfork, MT available for personal and professional gatherings. These accommodations are near Glacier National Park.

Sentinel Pine Home
Bigfork Electric Avenue

 

 

 

Downtown Bigfork

 

 

 

Bigfork bridge covered in snow

 

 

 

Showtyme Downtown Bigfork

 

 

 

Eric Thorsen Gallery

 

 

 

Bigfork Center for the performing arts

 

 

 

Performing arts building

 

 

 

Bigfork Inn

 

 

 

Bjorge Gallery

 

 

 

Swan River Inn

 

 

 

Bigfork Inn

 

 

Bigfork & Environs

 

During the summer months, Bigfork is a busy and charming hotspot. Simply exploring its main street, Electric Avenue, and its many one-of-a-kind stores and shops is a wonderful way to spend much of a day. You can find art galleries and craft stores, an antique book store, fishing and hiking outfitters, and an excellent local museum that features relics and photographs of the area's history www.bigfork.org is a fertile source of information.

 

The immediate Bigfork area offers over fifty restaurants to fit any budget, lifestyle, and set of tastes. A number of them, in fact, have won major awards in magazines such as Conde Nast and Travel and Leisure.

 

The Bigfork Playhouse is one of the town's leading attractions. Operating for over 50 years, the Playhouse is regarded as one of the finest "summer stock" playhouses in the country. Their website (www.bigforksummerplayhouse.com) contains schedules, details and ticket information.

 

Full service grocery stores, drug stores, liquor stores, and convenience stores can be found in Bigfork less than fifteen minutes from the Sentinel Pine. A complete list of our favorite restaurants, places to visit, and suggestions on how to best enjoy a day in Bigfork is available upon request.

 

The city of Kalispell (population roughly 20,000) will have everything you need that you can't find in Bigfork. This includes larger stores such as Wal-Mart and Costco, and quality medical care at the Kalispell Regional Hospital. In August, Kalispell hosts the Northwest Montana Fair, which includes a rodeo and is highly recommended.

 

Whitefish is another town worth exploring. Located next to Whitefish Lake and Big Mountain (one of the premier skiing destinations in the west), it is about the same size as Bigfork and offers many other unique shops and restaurants.

 

Of the many places to see, these are our favorites:

 

EVA GATES

Simply one of the best strawberry, blackberry, and every-berry preserves stores in America. Whatever the berry, they've made it into syrups, preserves, and candies that are available for purchase (and make great Christmas presents!). Local resident Eva Gates started the business nearly 80 years ago, and her family has continued to maintain the same standards of excellence ever since.

 

ERIC THORSEN GALLERY

Eric is recognized as one of the best sculptors in the Pacific Northwest. He is the finest sculptor of animals- - horses, buffalo, bears, and turtles, in particular - - we've ever seen. His store, located in Bigfork's historic old General Store, also contains his studio, where you can observe pieces in progress. Though expensive, his works are highly collectible and well worth every penny. www.thorsengallery.com
 

BJORGE GALLERY

This gallery next to the Bigfork Inn features many wonderful and complex western sculptures as well as some beautiful paintings. Though the sculptures are on the expensive side, the gallery is worth a visit. The paintings on the walls, including some unique fishing lure art, are produced by excellent notable local artists.

 

BIGFORK PLAYHOUSE

This is one of Bigfork's biggest attractions. It is a summer stock theater that puts on several different productions each summer, focusing on classics of musicals and comedy. In high summer, advance tickets are a must. While it is not Broadway, nor indeed off-Broadway, it is top notch within its genre. www.bigforksummerplayhouse.com

 

BUREAU OF COMMERCE

Across from Eric Thorsen's gallery, the Bureau is well worth a short visit if only for its terrific wall displays outlining the history of Bigfork.

 

BAY BOOKS

This small, eclectic used bookstore houses has been a main attraction in Bigfork for decades, and contains many original books and maps of the Old West. For those curious and willing to search closely, it can be a treasure mine. It has an especially good collection of books on Lewis & Clark and American Indian history.

 

TWO RIVER GEAR

Next to the Bjorge Gallery, Two River Gear is one of the best fly fishing shops in the area. Even if you don't fish, you'll be impressed by the beautiful displays of fishing flies and lures, and the staff can give you up to the minute reports on what is working to catch fish where. If you want to arrange a guided fishing expedition, this is a good place to go.

 

BUILDING COMPLEX TO LEFT OF GARDEN BAR

There are several interesting stores here that sell antiques, gifts, art, furniture, and western clothing.

 

POTTERY AND GLASS STORES

Between Eve Gates and the Playhouse, on the same side of the street, there are stores featuring pottery and blown glass made by local artisans.

 

KEHOE’S AGATE SHOP

Five minutes outside Bigfork, this as an absolute "must." While there are hundreds of "rock shops" in the West, this one is in a class by itself. Family-run for 70 years, members of the Kehoe family have personally searched the world for the rare minerals on display. The shop's three small rooms contain a range of items, from inexpensive curiosities for kids to extraordinary handcrafted diamond pieces. The owners are expert and trustworthy gemologists who manufacture top-shelf gold, silver, and precious stone jewelry onsite. The prices they charge for their finest jewelry are priced at about half of what you would pay for identical pieces in New York or Los Angeles.

 

WESTERN OUTDOOR

Most of the shopping in Kalispell is no different from what one would find in any American city. However, Western Outdoor (on Main Street) is an exception, offering a terrific selection of reasonably priced cowboy boots and western clothing.

 

BOX STORES

Kalispell has a full repository of national box stores, including COSTCO, Home Depot, Target, and the like. They are mostly grouped along the highways between downtown Kalispell and the airport.

 

WHITEFISH

If you liked Bigfork and have an extra day, Whitefish is also a cute, quaint town that is highly similar to it in fell but with an entirely different set of stores, galleries, and restaurants. Some visitors actually prefer it to Bigfork (we don't, but it's close). It is a little over an hour's drive from the Sentinel Pine and you go right through Kalispell to get there. Interestingly, Whitefish Lake, which is near some excellent winter skiing resorts, is among the single most expensive waterfront real estate in the world (on a par even with East Hampton and Malibu Beach!). While we encourage you to visit Whitefish if you have the time, we won't review it here; merely walk the main street.

 

AREA DRIVES

Many of our guests enjoy a drive around Flathead Lake. Starting in Bigfork, it is approximately 70 miles on Highways 35, 93, and 82, and the drive takes three or four hours. There are several turnouts along the road where you can stop and take pictures; there are also picnic areas and recreation areas where you can get out and walk along the shore. There are some terrific lake views of Flathead, one of America's largest fresh water lakes. In season, you will pass cherry orchards and stands and see some beautiful country as well.

 

The city of Polson, our County seat, is at the south shore of Flathead Lake. South of Polson on Highway 93 is an eclectic museum called "The Great American Museum" that features restored relics of the area from farm equipment to boats. Further south from there is the National Bison Range, just past Ronan, where herds of bison roam the hills and make great subjects for photographers. Continuing south on for about sixty miles, through wildlife refuges and the Flathead Indian Reservation, Highway 93 takes you to Missoula, Montana's university town.

 

From the Sentinel Pine, Highway 83, known as the "Seeley-Swan Highway," is perhaps the most gorgeous drive in the region, with the exception of Glacier Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road. For eight miles, you travel along the shore of Swan Lake. South of the town of Swan Lake, the road takes you through pine forests and along the shores of mountain lakes for another seventy miles, with the Swan Range, the western border of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, rising to the east. You won't see many signs of human settlement on this drive, but you'll undoubtedly see lots of wildlife if you stop at some of the roadside pullouts. Keep your eyes out for eagles and osprey. Drivers should watch out for deer, especially at dawn and dusk!

 

ANTIQUE STORES

You may see large and barn-like antique stores along the local roads, especially near Kalispell. Though much of what they sell are "hand-me-downs" and junk from unknown corners, there are occasional surprises. Our suggestion is to try at least one.

 

KALISPELL

The city of Kalispell (population roughly 20,000) has modern stores of all kinds to almost rival any much larger city. For furnishings, electronics, and anything in between this is the place to go. There are many excellent restaurants there as well, though in our opinion they lack the charm of ones so much closer. In August, they have a fair and rodeo that are absolutely terrific and highly recommended. Moose's Saloon is a terrific place for lunch with a unique Western atmosphere.

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