11 miles N of Kalispell; 9 miles E of Whitefish
Columbia Falls gets a bad rep not only for being the home of the Plum Creek plant, a smoke-billowing institution seen for miles even at night, but also for its not-so-subtle image as a tourist trap. And unlike Great Falls, where the falls are out of town and (gasp!) dammed, Columbia Falls goes one better by not having any falls at all. The redeeming features and equalizers are the town's proximity to Glacier National Park, and lodging rates that are relatively inexpensive -- it's a good fallback location if you have trouble finding a room in Whitefish. Residents here are real Montanans, something of a rarity in an area being inundated with out-of-staters setting up house.