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Montana Life - Moving to Montana - Kalispell Montana City Guide

Flathead Valley boasts an airport, Amtrak station, 2 ski resorts, 8 golf courses, mountain bike trails, cross country skiing and snowshoeing trails, over 269 lakes and reservoirs, campgrounds, diverse wildlife, fishing, hunting, and more. It’s easy to see why this county draws new residents every year. But, is it the right location for you and your family? In this series of blog posts and videos I hope to answer those questions and help you determine not only if Flathead Valley is the best place for your family, but which city or area within the county best fits your needs. Be sure to subscribe and reach out with any questions you may have about Montana living. This week's blog post is dedicated to Kalispell Montana. If you prefer to watch a video with this information click here.

This week’s blog post is dedicated to Kalispell Montana. If you prefer to watch a video with this information click here.

Montana Living Shopping - Downtown Gift Shop Sassafras - Kalispell, Montana

Kalispell Montana surpassed 25,000 residents in 2020 and continues to be the most populated city in Flathead County Montana. Kalispell boasts beautiful hiking trails and cross country ski trails, an outdoor archery range, equestrian schooling park, mountain bike trails, stunning lakes and beaches, shopping, dining, fishing, and the Conrad Mansion and Hockaday Art Museum.

Kalispell Montana surpassed 25,000 residents in 2020 and continues to be the most populated city in Flathead County Montana.

In this city moving guide I will discuss the various areas of the city, housing, schools, recreation, amenities, and pros and cons of choosing Kalispell over other cities in Flathead County.

Montana Living - Flathead County Courthouse - Kalispell, Montana

I have done my very best to give accurate information regarding areas of the city and corresponding school districts, taxes, etc, but please consult professional real estate agents before moving to verify accuracy, as this information is subject to change as the city grows.

Flathead County - Kalispell Montana Areas

West Valley

The West Valley area of Kalispell is located as indicated to the west of Kalispell. Sprawling East from the base of the Ashley Mountain Range, West Valley offers a country feel with beautiful views toward the Swan Mountain Range to the East and Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort to the North. The area is easily accessible via the Hwy 93 bypass. West Valley School is a highly desired Kindergarten through 8th grade establishment. You can view more about the school below. 

Montana Living - West Valley Area- Kalispell, Montana

North Kalispell

North Kalispell is to the North of Highway 2 on 93. North Kalispell is where the big box stores like Costco, Lowes, Target and Walmart are found, along with the movie theater, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, many restaurants, banks, and Glacier High School. If you want to be in the midst of the action, Northern Kalispell is the place to be. I often find myself here several times a week if not more. Some of the well known pricier neighborhoods in this area are Stillwater and Silverbrook, however there is a wide variety of home options and prices to be found in Northern Kalispell.

Montana Living - Northern Kalispell Area- Kalispell, Montana

Evergreen

Evergreen is an area of Kalispell found along Hwy 2 where it veers North from downtown and continues North to just past Reserve Drive. Evergreen is one of the more affordable areas to live in Kalispell and Flathead County. Students here attend Evergreen Junior High (more about this school below) before moving onto Glacier High School. Evergreen has some shopping such as a Family Dollar, Joann Fabrics, and Goodwill, but has been susceptible to stores like Shopko and Kmart going out of business as residents flocked to Northern Kalispell for shopping and dining. Evergreen is not a highly desired area of the county, however it is close to the action and provides more affordable housing opportunities. Evergreen is also closer to the Swan Mountain range providing some of the grandest mountain views in the city.

Montana Living - Evergreen Area- Kalispell, Montana

Downtown Kalispell

Downtown Kalispell boasts a nicely kept Main Street with old time street lamps, beautiful flower baskets in the Summer and greenery in the Winter, along with parades, monthly shopping or dining events, unique restaurants and shops, coffee bistros, salons, and more. The courthouse is a stately building situated along Main Street where the road splits before uniting once again and continuing into South Kalispell. Downtown Kalispell is the area along Hwy 93 a bit to the North but mostly to the South of Hwy 2. Eastern downtown Kalispell to the South of Hwy 2 is known as the wealthier area of downtown, however beautiful historical homes can be found throughout. Downtown Kalispell is a mix of beautifully remodeled homes and run down cottages waiting for some tender loving care. Downtown residents will attend Kalispell Middle School before continuing onto either Flathead or Glacier High School. Currently, those South of Hwy 2 attend Flathead High School and those to the North attend Glacier High School.

Montana Living - Downtown Kalispell Area- Kalispell, Montana

South Kalispell

South Kalispell is located South of downtown along Hwy 93 and Hwy 93 Alt (or the bypass) until the two roads meet. Southern Kalispell has a grocery store (Rosauers) health food store, fast food options, and the Kalispell City Airport (not to be confused with Glacier Park International Airport). Similar to Evergreen, Southern Kalispell offers more affordable housing opportunities, but is a less desired area overall. Southern Kalispell students attend Kalispell Middle School and Flathead High School.

Montana Living - Southern Kalispell Area- Kalispell, Montana

Lower Valley and Creston are technically also part of Kalispell, however I will be discussing Lower Valley with Somers/Lakeside and I will discuss Creston with Bigfork because they are further out of town.

Home Prices in Kalispell Montana

According to Zillow, the median price for a home in Kalispell, MT is currently 323,032. This simply means that half of the homes listed for sale are above this price and half of them are below it. 

Commute Time

According to bestplaces.net the average commute time for Kalispell Montana is currently 15.4 minutes. The national average is 26.4 minutes.

Public Transportation

Kalispell does have public transportation although it is very limited. All vehicles are ADA accessible and equipped with lifts. Most routes are $1 each way. The lines basically cover the downtown area, a bit of South Kalispell, and a bit of North Kalispell. You can view the routes here. The Tri-city commuter line provides service between Kalispell, Columbia Falls, and Whitefish.

Schools

Kalispell Middle School

Kalispell Middle School received a great schools rating of 7 out of 10. The school provides the most elective options for 6th-8th grade students in the valley. Elective offerings currently include multiple art and language courses, sewing, culinary and gardening options, woodworking, creative construction, engineering, intro to computer science, medical detectives, multimedia, and more. The school puts on a play every Spring giving young actors/actresses an opportunity to grow. It is also the largest middle school in the Valley with over 1,000 students. 

Montana Living Schools - Kalispell Middle School - Kalispell, Montana

West Valley School

West Valley School is a Kindergarten through 8th grade establishment with a 7 out of 10 rating. Both of my daughters loved the family feel of this school and said it was the perfect sized community. The teachers here play a big part. During the Coronavirus pandemic teachers decorated their cars and drove through district neighborhoods holding up “we miss you” signs accompanied by friendly honks and waves. The school holds an 8th grade graduation celebration and because the school is elementary plus middle school, the junior high schoolers here tend to stay younger a bit longer than at Kalispell Middle School or Evergreen Junior High School. They do not have as many electives as Kalispell Middle School and in general are not as good at sports as the Evergreen and Kalispell Middle teams. Their Cross Country team does pretty well. 

Montana Living Schools - West Valley Middle School - Kalispell, Montana

Evergreen Junior High

Evergreen Junior High is a 5th-8th grade school with a 5 out of 10 rating. The school’s extra-curricular activities include football, basketball, volleyball, cross country, drama, a gifted and talented program and student leadership opportunities. According to greatschools.org 100% of the students attending here are from lower income families.

Montana Living Schools - Evergreen Junior High School - Kalispell, Montana

Flathead High School

Flathead High School is a 9th-12th grade establishment with a 5 out of 10 rating. Flathead offers various activities from band, orchestra, national honors society, speech and debate, theatre, and business professionals of America. Flathead high school offers a variety of athletic opportunities and enjoys a cross town football rivalry with Glacier High School.

Montana Living Schools - Flathead High School - Kalispell, Montana

Glacier High School

Glacier High School is a 9th-12th grade establishment with a 7 out of 10 rating. The high school is known for having a place for everyone. A large variety of clubs and extracurriculars make adjusting and finding your place a bit easier here. The school has a VOAG (vocational agriculture) educational opportunity, AP courses, and the ability to pair college courses during your Junior and Senior years of learning. 

Montana Living Schools - Glacier High School - Kalispell, Montana

Taxes

Kalispell Montana does not currently have sales tax or a tourist tax on purchases of any type. So, you can buy a vehicle, boat, sporting goods equipment, etc. and save a nice amount of money just on the sales tax you won’t be paying.

Property taxes in Kalispell are approximately 1% of the home value each year.

Churches

Kalispell Montana has a wide variety of churches to choose from. Easthaven Baptist Church has a wonderful youth program along with a kids Awana program each Wednesday evening which nicely doubles as a date night for parents. Canvas Church has campuses in Kalispell, Columbia Falls, and Cutbank Montana. The pastor here is known for greeting attendees by name and being very personable. Fresh Life Church has campuses in Whitefish, Kalispell, and Polson along with many other Montana cities, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Portland, Oregon. Fresh Life Church is a vibrant church and very involved in local service projects within each campus city. Additionally, Kalispell has plenty of smaller churches scattered throughout the city ranging from Lutherin, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah's Witness, and more.

Montana Living Churches - Fresh Life Church Office Building - Kalispell, Montana

Crime

Moving to Flathead County from our highly ranked suburb in the Midwest was a bit scary for me when comparing the crime ratings. Even now, as I look at them it concerns me. But, I can say that I've never felt unsafe in the area or felt that my daughters were in danger. The crime rating is based per 1,000 residents. Kalispell Montana has a crime index rating of 14 meaning it is safer than 14% of towns in the country. Here is the neighborhood scout link for your investigation. Feel free to message me if you have further questions.

Recreation

Lone Pine State Park

Lone Pine State Park boasts breathtaking valley views over the city of Kalispell and further out to Flathead Lake, Whitefish Mountain, and Glacier National Park. Lone Pine offers visitors access to 7+ miles of trails for biking, hiking, and snowshoeing, along with a visitor center providing educational opportunities and events. The park welcomes horse and rider as well, and has an outdoor archery course for those wishing to brush up on their skills.

Montana Living Recreation - Cliff Trail - Lone Pine State Park - Kalispell, Montana

Herron Park

Herron Park hosts several horse shows each year. You can view more about that at herronparkeq.org. The area also provides biking, hiking, and snowshoeing trails for guests of all ages with rewarding views over Foys Lake below against a stunning backdrop of the surrounding mountains.

Montana Living Recreation - Herron Park Lookout - Kalispell, Montana

Foys Lake 

Foys Lake is a beautiful lake boasting crystal blue water. Kalispell residents flock to the area to enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. The lake is stocked annually with rainbow trout. 

Montana Living Recreation - Foys Lake - Kalispell, Montana

Woodland Park

Woodland Park is open year round and offers walking paths, a skate park, outdoor ice skating rink, and a water park. Woodland Water Park is open from June - August and boasts a swimming pool, lazy river, 2 water slides, and private and group swim lessons. 

Conrad Mansion

On the national register of historic places, the Conrad Mansion is the former home of Charles E Conrad. Charles began a very successful shipping and freight company in Montana in the late 1800s. The mansion boasts 13,000 square feet, 26 rooms, and 8 fireplaces. Guided tours are available for a cost, but do require 24 hours notice. The beautiful grounds can also be booked for weddings, birthdays, funerals, reunions, and more. 

Montana Living Recreation - The Conrad Mansion Museum- Kalispell, Montana

Hockaday Museum of Art

The Hockaday Museum of Art features a “Crown of the Continent: Glacier National Park” collection from various artists along with rotating pieces from nationally acclaimed artists and those newer to the scene. The museum also offers children's art classes, adult workshops, and a senior tour and tea once a month. 

Glacier Symphony

As stated on their website the symphony produces a yearly Masterworks season of subscription concerts, educational programming for area schools, the family-friendly outdoor Symphony Night at Rebecca Farm, exclusive special events, and the region’s only weeklong classical music series, Festival Amadeus. “ I’m not a huge music buff, but I do love the outdoor symphony night at Rebecca Farm each year.

Montana Living Recreation - Glacier Symphony - Kalispell, Montana

The Event at Rebecca Farm

Each Summer in Kalispell, this event features 600-700 horses and riders, 1,000s of spectators, along with a shopping fair and is one of the largest equine competitions in North America. In the Winter months they also host a skijoring competition boasting over $10,000 in prizes.

Pig Farm Trail System

This network of dirt trails is a favorite among mountain bikers and horseback riders. The trail system offers just over 90 trails across 44 miles. Be sure to go with someone local the first few times as trails are not clearly marked and it would be very easy to lose your way here. Also, remember to bring bear spray along on your journey. You can view a tutorial here.

Shopping and Dining

Kalispell Downtown Area Shopping and Dining

Downtown Kalispell offers residents a plethora of shopping and dining options. Brix Bottleshop carries over 300 rotating craft beers along with fine wines, gourmet foods, and gift items. The Montana Scene and The Toggery are sure to get you outfitted for the current season. Several florist shops, unique to Montana gift shops, and coffee shops make it easy to find that perfect gift for your loved one. And, if all that shopping makes you hungry, Norm’s Soda Fountain, Moose’s Saloon, Blue Samurai Sushi, Desoto Grille, Hops, Scottibellis, Kalispell Brewing Company and more scatter Main Street and the surrounding blocks. Additionally, the Kalispell Center Mall is downtown near the corner of Main Street and Idaho (Hwy 2).

Montana Living Dining - Desoto Grill - Kalispell, Montana

Montana Living Shopping - Downtown - Kalispell, Montana

Northern Kalispell Shopping and Dining

Flathead County residents will often find themselves in Northern Kalispell as that is where Walmart, Costco, Lowes, Home Depot, Target, and TJMaxx can be found. Additionally, there are several sporting goods and hunting stores, pet shops, clothing stores, craft stores and more. Mackenzie River Pizza Company, Brass Tap, Famous Dave’s, Applebees, Panera Bread, Costa Vida, and Firehouse Subs are just some of the area’s dining options. 

Montana Living Dining - Buffalo Chicken Pizza Mackenzie River Pizza Company - Kalispell, Montana

Montana Living Shopping - North Kalispell Shopping Area - Kalispell, Montana

Evergreen Shopping and Dining

Evergreen currently has a Smart Food Service, Family Dollar, JoAnn Fabrics, Goodwill, Army/Navy Store and some home remodeling outlets and furniture stores. The area also has a Pizza Hut, Burger King, Cislo’s Family Restaurant, Perkins, Charlie Wongs, Los Caporales, McDonalds, and Applebees.

Pros and Cons of Choosing Kalispell (over other cities in Flathead County)

Pros

Living in Kalispell affords residents the convenience of close proximity to Costco, Target, Home Goods, the theater and the airport. Median home prices are some of the lowest in Flathead County and both public high schools are at or above the state average. Kalispell has plenty of recreational opportunities, but also benefits from Somers, Lakeside, and Bigfork to the South and Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and West Glacier to the North.

Kalispell has plenty of recreational opportunities, but also benefits from Somers, Lakeside, and Bigfork to the South and Whitefish, Columbia Falls, and West Glacier to the North.

Montana Living - Glacier Park International Airport (FCA) - Kalispell, Montana

Cons

As the most populated city in the county, Kalispell loses a bit of the small town feel and walkability. Certainly, downtown residents are able to walk easily to local businesses, but other areas will require a vehicle if not located along the public transit route. And, while centrally located in Flathead Valley, Kalispell is further from specific tourist sites than some of the other cities. 

Approximate commute times are as follows 

Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort - 36 minutes

Glacier National Park West Entrance - 46 minutes

Blacktail Mountain Ski Area - 49 minutes

Bigfork, Lakeside, Whitefish - 20-25 minutes

Hopefully, this answers some of your questions about the area. If you feel I’ve missed something please leave a comment with it below. If you have a question, feel free to leave that below as well.

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