KALISPELL — The tourists are back which is a far cry from one year ago in Montana and it's not just families who have packed up the car and headed to the "Last Best Place."
This can be a crazy time of year in the Flathead and now more than ever, women are taking advantage of a new program offered by the Glacier Rafting Company.
Courtney Stone first came to Northwest Montana when she was just 18 and found a sisterhood. Years later when she needed to find the magic of women as an adult, she found it yet again.
“I came out to Montana as a young, as a child, and as an adolescent and really enjoyed adventuring with my family, but I wasn't sure how to go about it once I was out here on my own,” Stone said. “And it was the groups of other women that I met that took me down the Albertan Gorge for the first time...[then] took me backpacking in Glacier National Park.
Stone decided to start a women-only group. One of the activities features five days of outdoor activity starting with a three-day backpacking trip through Glacier National Park, as well as an overnight rafting trip.
“There is a growing movement of women who want to get out there and learn and recreate and understand how to leave no trace and to tread more lightly and so we saw that opportunity, and just started advertising that we would take women only,” Stone observed.
Over half of the people who run Glacier Guides and Montana Raft are women and they know the importance of offering women something that's meaningful.
“Our focus is really on bringing people out here and educating them about Montana's precious resources while they're here,” Stone told MTN News. “And I think that speaks to a certain group of women across the country who are interested in that but don't know how to begin. “
One of the benefits of the program is the women who take part remain, friends, long after their five-day journey ends.
“Love to do the debriefing at the end of each trip with the women who've been on. And it's so fun. There's often single women on the trip. In fact, most of the trips are women who come by themselves,” Stone said. “And at the end, they've all become this cohesive unit after five days out there in Glacier National Park together. And then they become Facebook friends and email buddies and some of those friendships have carried on for years now. And it's just really a joy to see.
Click here to learn more about the program.