Yellowstone ParkSummer is a great time to visit America’s national parks, and two of the most popular are easily accessed from a couple of trendy Montana resorts. West Yellowstone National Park is less than an hour from Big Sky Resort in southern Montana, and so is Glacier National Park from Whitefish Mountain Resort in the northern part of the Treasure State. 

Both resorts offer affordable lodging packages, especially for families, and a whole host of activities to keep guests busy when not visiting the parks. Lots of sunshine and warm temperatures, coupled with low humidity, make it an ideal summer playground, especially if you come from the frequently sweltering lower Midwest.

The sky isn’t the only big thing at Big Sky Resort. So are the mountains, rivers and the summer experience in the Gallatin and Spanish Peaks mountain ranges. Yellowstone National Park’s western entrance is only 45 minutes away.

Take a gondola ride up Lone Mountain for a mellow hike or an adrenaline-rushed mountain bike ride back down single-track trails filled with views and thrills. Other activities include horseback riding, a scenic Arnold Palmer-designed 18-hole golf course, and the Gallatin River offers outstanding whitewater rafting and fly-fishing opportunities. 

Big Sky Big Adventure Lodging Packages start from $106 per person, per night, based on double occupancy and include a choice of one activity per person.  Choose from zip line rides, paintball, high ropes courses, golf, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, or a Yellowstone park tour. Golf stay and play packages start from $87 per person, per night, based on double occupancy.

Yellowstone National Park includes Old Faithful, easily accessed from the western entrance, and the greatest collection of geysers in the world. The country’s first national park, established in 1872, encompasses more than 2 million acres and stretches through three states.  

The park boasts an active volcano, canyons, hot springs, and is home to grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions and herds of bison and elk.  Every bend in the road offers a new landscape and view.  Ranger guided tours introduce you to the many natural wonders found at Yellowstone.Whitefish Mountain Resort, located at the base of Big Mountain, offers lift rides to the top where you can see the mountains of Glacier National Park, just a scenic 31 mile drive away. There are zip line tours, an alpine slide, a Walk in the Treetops, the Summit Nature Center, and lots of trails for hiking and mountain biking on Big Mountain. There’s also rafting tours, fly fishing and mountain golf nearby.

Glacier National Park

A drive to Glacier National Park takes you to stunning vistas, glacial fields, crystal clear lakes and outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities. A must is a drive over the historic Going-to-the-Sun Road, which offers jaw-dropping views around every turn. 

Take a boat tour on one of the glacial lakes, climb on a shuttle to explore over 700 miles of hiking trails, or take a ride on the park’s historic Red Bus Tour. I’ve personally taken this tour and it’s the best way to get a quick overview of everything Glacier National Park has to offer. It’s not hard to see why it’s earned the nickname “Crown of the Continent.”

This summer Whitefish Mountain Resort is offering a Family Fun lodging package starting from $395 per stay. The package includes two nights lodging, an alpine slide 4-pack and four scenic lift rides. They also offer lodging packages for zip line tours, mountain biking, and golf that start from $65 to $110 per person, per night, based on double occupancy and activity.

Photos: Top -- Yellowstone National Park; Bottom -- Glacier National Park