What to Know Before You Go Huckleberry Picking in Montana
Confession: I'm born and raised in Missoula and I've never been huckleberry picking. I've certainly consumed my share of huckleberries, and all of my in-laws seem to love picking them by the gallons. But when we are all up at the lake together, and there's a choice of being in the lake/laying in the sun, or going out into the woods in 90 degree scorching heat to pick berries, call me crazy, but I've never chosen the latter. Thank goodness for my in-laws though, Mom/aunts/sisters all make a mean Huckleberry Buckle!
A few things to know before you go huckleberry picking. They ripen mid to late summer, so August is the best month to go. The Flathead is prime huckleberry country, some consider their picking spots to be the equivalent to their best fishing spot, so I won't tell you exactly where to go. But I can tell you that you will find success near Glacier Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort, and the Big Fork/Swan Lake area.
Remember that huckleberries only grow in the wild, so if you choose to go picking, you are battling everything from bears to birds for the delicious fruit. Be bear aware and prepared to encounter some animals. Long sleeves and pants are also recommended to avoid getting scratched up by bushes and branches, don't forget the sunscreen and a large brimmed hat, and most importantly, a few buckets to gather your purple gold. If your quest is successful and you end up with a lot of berries, be sure to bag and freeze them as they have a very short shelf life. And also be prepared to become everyone's best friend as word will spread that you have huckleberries.
If you'd rather stay out of the wild and keep your buns roasting on the dock, you may be able to find huckleberries at Farmer's Markets, roadside stands or specialty stores across Western Montana, if you're lucky. Or, if you're just visiting and absolutely have to taste what Montanans are so crazy about, hit up Big Dipper Ice Cream for a scoop or 3 of absolute heaven.