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Photo by Gene Sentz

WildFest 2017

September 6-7, 2019

Cedar Creek Lodge
and the Coop
Columbia Falls (Salish nq̓eyɫkʷm), Montana

Weekend Overview

Friday, September 6

Join us at the Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls for an afternoon of program updates, a panel on the Whitefish Range Partnership, and an evening presentations by guest speakers Doug Chadwick and Vernon Finley. There will also be an all-day trail stewardship project in Jewel Basin for those who are interested. 

Saturday, September 7

Join us for a guided morning hike followed by an afternoon of family-friendly activities, music by Jameson and the Sordid Seeds, and tasty local food trucks at The Coop, just across the street from Cedar Creek Lodge. Enjoy presentations by Montana Wild Wings, the North Fork Preservation Association, and our very own Backcountry Bob Ronan, to name just a few. 


Cedar Creek Lodge, 930 2nd Ave. W., Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Please call (406) 897-7070  to reserve your room by July 31. 

 Glacier Inn Motel, 1401 2nd Ave. E. Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Please reserve your room at (406) 892-4341 by August 15 to receive the discounted room rate.

Glacier Park Motel and Campground (Glacier Basecamp Lodge), 7285 Hwy 2 E., Columbia Falls, MT 59912. Both rooms and campsites (RV and tent) are available. Please call (406) 892-7686 to reserve your room or site before August 5. 

Give the group name "Montana Wilderness Association" and the code "Wildfest" to receive a discounted rate at the above establishments. You can find more lodging options on Go Northwest's website. 


We're looking for volunteers to help set up, sell merchandise, greet guests, and more. Sign up here.


Friday, September 7 at Cedar Creek Lodge

Heritage Hall
Cedar Creek Lodge and Conference Center

930 2nd Ave West 
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

Parking is available at Cedar Creek Lodge and across the street at Glacier Bank.


8 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Jewel Basin trail stewardship day

Join our trail stewardship team on a one-day project in the beautiful Jewel Basin in the Swan Range. Volunteers will help clear and maintain the Clayton Lake Trail. Space is very limited, so please sign up early at wildmontana.org/vtc-wildfest.

3 – 4 p.m.

Social hour

Swap adventure stories, meet new friends, and visit with old ones as you grab a drink and prepare for an entertaining afternoon of learning.

4 – 4:45 p.m.

Welcome to WildFest

MWA Executive Director Ben Gabriel and Board President Addrien Marx will welcome you to WildFest Weekend, to be followed by Flathead-Kootenai Chapter president Bret Luedke. Ben, Addrien, and Bret will provide organizational and chapter-level updates on MWA’s current campaigns. 

4:45 – 5:15 p.m.

Guest speaker Vernon Finley

Join Vernon Finley, director of the Kootenai Culture Committee, as he discusses the heritage of the Kootenai Tribe and the importance of the local landscape to the Kootenai, as well as current land-management issues facing the tribe.

Vernon S. Finley was born and raised on the Flathead Indian Reservation. His childhood was spent with his grandparents, who instilled in him respect and reverence for Kootenai culture. He graduated from Polson High School, received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Montana, an MS in education from Oklahoma City University, and a Ph.D in education from The University of Georgia. Vernon has taught at the tribal Two Eagle River High School, is the former chairman of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and currently serves as director of the Kootenai Culture Committee.

5:15 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.

Learn about the Whitefish Range Partnership

Hear from members of the coalition that worked together to make broadly supported management recommendations for over 300,000 acres of the Flathead National Forest. Panelists include Paul Mackenzie, Dave Hadden, Bob Brown, Chip Weber, and Amy Robinson,. The discussion will be moderated by working group participant and MWA board member Debo Powers.

6:15 – 7:30 p.m.

Hors d'oeuvres and social hour 

Enjoy a variety of heavy appetizers provided by the chefs at Cedar Creek Lodge and a cash bar hosted by Blue Moon Nite Club. 

7:30 – 7:45 p.m.


Join us to recognize and celebrate some of MWA's most dedicated volunteers.

7:45 – 8:30 p.m.

Guest speaker Doug Chadwick

Join renowned author and conservationist Doug Chadwick as he discusses his experience as a steward of wild lands and iconic species and the importance role that wilderness plays in our daily lives.

Doug Chadwick is an author, wildlife biologist, photographer, and conservationist. Doug received an MS in wildlife biology from the University of Montana, and is the author of 14 books and hundreds of articles that have appeared in publications including National Geographic, Reader’s Digest, Outside, and The Smithsonian Magazine. He has contracted with the National Geographic Society to study and explore ecosystems and species around the world, and is a founding board member of Vital Ground. Doug lives in Whitefish with his wife, Karen.



Saturday Hikes

Join us on one of seven hikes to explore the local wildlands and learn about these spectacular places. Space is limited, so please sign up using the link in the hike description. Registration for all hikes will open on July 15. Some longer hikes or hikes departming from more distant trailheads may result in later returns to the Coop. Please plan accordingly. 

Birch Lake

Location: Bigfork
Miles/Difficulty: 6 miles/moderate
Leaders: John Larson and Carol Barnes
The trail begins at Camp Misery and climbs up a ridge and across the side of Mount Aeneas, providing fabulous views of the Flathead Valley. 
Sign Up

Swift Creek

Location: Whitefish
Miles/Difficulty: 1 mile/easy
Leaders: John Hartlieb and Kathi Hartlieb
Join us on this easy loop trail through a varied landscape of old growth forest, riparian areas, and large stands of ponderosa pine. 
Sign up

Stanton Lake

Location: Essex
Miles/Difficulty: 4 miles/moderately strenuous
Leaders: Mary Freniere
Join us on this Flathead Valley favorite, a classic hike that offers all the solitude and wildlife viewing opportunities of the Great Bear Wilderness in a short round trip. 
Sign up

Glacier View Mountain

Location: Columbia Falls
Miles/Difficulty: 7.6 miles/difficult
Leaders: Chris Rost
Hike the ridge to the summit of Glacier View Mountain for views of both Glacier National Park and the North Fork Basin of the Flathead Valley.
Sign up

Columbia Mountain Waterfall

Location: Columbia Falls
Miles/Difficulty: 5 miles/moderate
Leaders: Sheena Pate
Explore the northwestern edge of the Swan Mountain Range on this moderate hike that goes approximately halfway to the summit of Columbia Mountain.
Sign up

Lone Pine State Park Loop

Location: Kalispell
Miles/Difficulty: 3.4 miles/moderate
Leaders: Amy Pearson
Learn about the local wildlife and forest ecology, and stop at one of the many lookouts to catch views of Big Mountain, Flathead Lake, the Jewel Basin, and Glacier National Park.
Sign up


Saturday, September 7 at The Coop Community Market

Fort Missoula
The Coop Community Market

830 1st Ave. West
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

Parking is available in the adjoining lot at Glacier Bank and across the street at Cedar Creek Lodge.


3 – 8 p.m.

Gear demos, horse packing, and family fun

Get ready for a day filled with gear demos, food trucks, and great drinks at The Coop. Activities will include:

Food trucks

Be sure to come hungry because food trucks will be on site with tasty options catering to multiple dietary needs.

We're also excited to partner with Blue Moon Nite Club to provide local beer and wine throughout the weekend. Non-alcoholic beverages will also be provided. 

5:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Jameson and the Sordid Seeds

Jameson and the Sordid Seeds is a rock/reggae/blues/soul powerhouse known for its electric live performances and captivating songwriting. Hailing from Whitefish, they have developed a solid following throughout the western United States performing mostly original songs alongside occassional covers from Paul Simon to Sublime. We dare you not to dance! Be sure to stick around on Saturday to enjoy their great tunes.

Explore Montana

Looking to stick around the Flathead Valley after WildFest? Explore town, visit Glacier, and get lost in the beautiful Jewel Basin. Check out Visit MT to see more lodging options and things to do in the beautiful Flathead Valley. If you're looking for more hikes, you can find them on our online hiking guide



Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers to help us set up, clean up, sell merchandise, assist in the bucket raffle, greet our guests, and more! Volunteers are a crucial aspect of WildFest and we wouldn't be able to pull it off with your time and effort. Register for shifts here.



Thank you to our event partners




Special thanks to all those who donated to our bucket raffle


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