Road trip to the Wilderness Club, Glacier National Park

Updated: August 3, 2023

By Steve Turcotte

Road trips for golf around the Pacific Northwest are a must. From Central Oregon to the Oregon Coast to Northwest Washington to the Idaho Panhandle and Western Montana, there are plenty of choices to make when it comes to finding the right place.

There had been one road trip I had wanted to make, but the timing had never worked out. Until this summer. The road trip through Washington through the Idaho Panhandle and into Western Montana. That meant quite a few hours on the open highway, but the end result when the car pulled into the parking lot at the Wilderness Club in Eureka, Montana, was well worth the time spent behind the wheel.

The Wilderness Club sits just a few miles from the U.S.-Canadian border and not too far from the Idaho-Montana border. The name fits this place well – this is truly the Montana wilderness. There are mountains everywhere. Trees dot the landscape. And in the middle of all this sits the Wilderness Club, a golf resort with a course designed by Sir Nick Faldo, who if you heard him on his television broadcasts with CBS during his days on the air, spoke volumes about Montana.

Wilderness Club

The journey to get to the Wilderness Club is filled with plenty of terrific scenery, from the tiny towns you drive through, to the long and winding Kootenai River, to the expanse Lake Koocanusa, which stretches 90 miles from the U, S. and into Canada. This is a road with some of the best scenery, and where the road twists and turns, on the way to Eureka.

The Wilderness Club traces its roots back to 2009. The course opened in 2011, right when Canadian Brian Ehlert decided this was a project worth buying. Since then, the club has grown yet somehow remained a hidden gem. Amanda White, the long-time marketing director of the club, hopes that ‘hidden gem’ label gets shed and puts the club itself in the spotlight. And it would be a well deserved spotlight.

There is plenty to like at the Wilderness Club, from the 18-hole course ranked #1 in Montana, to the numerous family activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, basketball, kickball, the list goes on. The waterpark comes complete with two saltwater swimming pools, a hot tub and 250-foot water slide. For the lodging, the housing component of the Wilderness Club has grown and keeps growing. This area, called the Tobacco Valley, has drawn home owners from all over the United States and Canada.

For the visitors there are villas to rent as well as resort suites, luxury cottages and cabins.

Now let’s get to the golf course. From the first tee box to the 18th green, this is a course that offers something for everyone. With views of the nearby mountains, and plenty of water and sand along the way, this is a course that can play as long as 7,207 to 5,431 from the forward tees. Some highlights: The ninth hole is kind of a cliff deal with a tee shot that must be placed at the edge of the fairway and the second shot over a tall grassy area to green that sits down in a bowl with a view of the lake. The par-5 12th hole has a blind tee shot but when the second shot opens up you get a glimpse of water, a valley, mountains and a green protected by that same water.

There are plenty of tourist places close by. A side trip to Glacier National Park proved to be well worth the time. The park is huge and features a road called Going to the Sun Road that cuts through the middle of the park, and as you drive it you wonder how in the heck did this thing get built back in the 20s. It winds and twists and goes up and down and above all, offers spectacular views of the mountains. In fact, on this trip, it seemed like a Bighorn sheep got lost and was wandering down the road from the visitor’s center.

Glacier National Park

Down the mountain in the towns of Whitefish and Kalispell, there are even more activities and more golf. Whitefish Mountain is home to more than winter skiing. During the summer months the mountain offers the chance for an alpine slide, mountain biking, walking on ropes through trees and chairlift and gondola rides to the top of the mountain.

On the way back toward Puget Sound, there is even more to see through the Idaho Panhandle and into Eastern Washington. One of the more breathtaking views comes as you drive through Sandpoint and along the shores of Lake Pend Oreille and there is even a replica of the statue of liberty at the end of a dock in Sandpoint. ​ Of course there is plenty of golf to be found in the Spokane area, if you are looking for more golf on the way home from the Big Sky Country.