One of Western Montana’s best-kept secrets is the “Bitterroot Valley”, which offers countless opportunities for top-notch leisure. Whether you like bicycling the Bitterroot Trail or climbing through canyons, you can enjoy anything from relaxing in alpine lakes to trout fishing on world-class rivers. The beautiful bitterroot valley is full of fascinating things to discover. The highlights are outlined in the following list.
1. Bitterroot Valley in Western Montana
The Bitterroot Valley and its eight villages, which are located in western Montana between the Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains, provide visitors with a wide range of options and activities.
There are almost as many possibilities as there are hiking trails in Montana, from scenic drives and cultural excursions to outdoor recreation and outdoor adventures. And regardless of the season, you choose to visit—spring, summer, fall, or winter—you can be sure to find enough to do in one of Montana’s most picturesque valleys.
1.1. Biking Across the Bitterroot Lost Trail Pass
From Missoula to Hamilton, the 50-mile-long, paved Bitterroot lost Trail pass follows the Bitterroot River and provides breathtaking vistas of the craggy Bitterroot Mountains and the undulating Sapphire mountains. If you love mountain biking, this is the fun route.
The lost trail pass path is excellent for beginners since it is largely level, and you may pause along the way to appreciate the unique shops, art galleries, bakeries, restaurants, coffee shops, and breweries in the towns you’ll travel through, including Lolo, Florence, Stevensville, Victor, and Hamilton. Make sure certain companies are open during COVID-19 recovery by calling beforehand.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition travelled from modern-day Idaho border via Lost Trail Pass to join the trek through the Rocky Mountains.
1.2. Fishing in the Bitterroot River
The beauty and fishing on the Bitterroot River world-class trout waters are both outstanding. Anglers may reel in fish in some of the most breathtaking terrains in West Montana as they weave through the lush valley bottom with vistas of the untamed Bitterroot Mountains. Floaters and rafters may easily access the bitterroot river.
Try your luck on the West Fork of the Bitterroot River in the spring when float fishing is at its best. It’s a genuine angler’s heaven since there are fewer boats, there are big trees where you can fish, and the trout are biting. Alternatively, you may catch some of the largest fish in the river by fishing the renowned Skwala hatch in March and April. The best seasons for wade fishing are the summer and fall in the bitterroot valley.
The Bitterroot River splits into its East and West Forks at the southern end of the valley, and it meets the Clark Fork River at its northern end at the southern end.
Cast a line at one of the more than ten fishing access points along the 84 miles of river that are teeming with cutthroat, brown, and rainbow trout. The Bitterroot River has a few diversion dams, so if you’re boating, you’ll need to portage your boat around them.
1.3. Hike the Bitterroot Valley Mountains
There are several hiking paths in the Bitterroot Range, and the scenery is breathtaking. Hike Lake Como 7-mile circle nearby to appreciate this alpine lake’s breathtaking splendour. Wind by a waterfall, rivers, and alpine woods as you round the lake.
This valley’s western edge, eastern, and centre borders are all formed by the Bitterroot Mountain, Sapphire Mountains, and Bitterroot River.
Along a 9-mile trip on the Kootenai Creek Trail, meander amid granite canyon walls while following the Kootenai Creek. The journey to the Kootenai lakes is 9 miles long, but you may stop at any point to explore more of the tranquil Bitterroot National Forest. Explore other hiking routes in the Bitterroot Valley here.
1.4. Campground for the Corps of Discovery
The importance of Lolo creek Travelers’ Rest State Park cannot be overstated, regardless of your level of interest in Lewis and Clark or if you are an aficionado. It is the only Corps of Discovery campground whose archaeological validity has been established.
The expedition members slept on this territory before beginning their arduous trek through the Bitterroot Mountains and on to their final destination of the Pacific Ocean. The park staff makes a big effort to inform visitors about the significance of this location to the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Nez Perce trail people who lived here long before Lewis and Clark arrived.
At the tourist centre, begin your visit. Exhibits describe the voyage’s itinerary and explain why the Native Americans and the expedition thought so highly of this location.
Take the smooth dirt walk outside and across the bridge that spans the gorgeous Lolo Creek to explore the campground. Interpretive signs describe how the presence of mercury in the soil—a byproduct of the men’s usage of Dr. Benjamin Rush’s “Thunderbolt” tablets to treat their ailments—helped archaeologists establish the authenticity of the encampment and their discovery of the expedition’s toilet.
1.5. Visit the Breweries in Bitterroot Valley
In Montana, breweries have evolved into the centre of many tiny towns. The villages in the Bitterroot Valley, where six breweries are situated along a 53-mile length of U.S., are the best examples of this.
A comprehensive evening menu with juicy burgers is available at Lolo Peak Brewery in Lolo, which also offers a large range of rotating beers. For occasions and fundraisers, they frequently collaborate with the neighbourhood Travelers’ Rest State Park.
Jim Lueders, owner and brewmaster of the Stevensville-based Wildwood Brewery, places a high value on sustainability. Sit outside on the terrace while enjoying a drink of his Organic Bodacious Bock and the warm summer sun. One of the oldest and most well-known breweries in the state is Bitter Root Brewing in Hamilton.
1.6. Town of Darby
Darby is the bitterroot valley’s southern-end settlement and one of its smallest. Darby has garnered considerable notoriety in recent years as the setting for the fictitious Dutton Family Ranch in the Yellowstone television series. Darby has maintained its small-town charm despite its brief encounter with fame.
Explore Darby by taking a trip down Main Street. Pretend you’re the boss of your own ranching empire with a one-of-a-kind design from Double H Custom Hat Company. The Old West Antiques and Candy Store has all the sweets you remember from your youth. Go a few streets off Main Street to Bandit Brewing Company, Montana’s tiniest brewery, where owner JC McDowell continuously tries new things to keep the residents coming back for more.
While staying at The Rye Creek Lodge, unwind and take your time to see the region surrounding Darby. Pick one of the five luxurious but rustic cottages spread out throughout the 120-acre estate. From your private hot tub, scan the surrounding hills for bighorn sheep.
1.7. St Mary’s Mission of the Bitterroot Valley
It was the region’s first permanent white settlement. The town of Stevensville may be found after turning off the East Side Highway to the north. Fort Owen State Park, one of the most significant commercial hubs in the Northwest for many years in the middle of the 1800s, is a brief diversion for a little history. The earliest permanent pioneer community in Montana, the St. Mary’s Mission (first white settlement), is located near Stevensville.
Visit Fort Owen State Monument, the first permanent white settlement in Montana, and St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville before continuing south on Highway 93 to Hamilton, the main city in the Bitterroot Valley.
The St. Mary’s Mission provides a stunning view of the mountains around the valley and is situated in the heart of ancient Stevensville. The history of St. Mary’s Mission, which was established in 1841 and is referred to be the location “Where Montana Began,” is even more fascinating. Later, Fr. Pierre DeSmet directed the group.
On the outside of the mission’s grounds, you can see Father’s huts, which are simple yet lovely inside. Victor the Chief and Ravalli county museum are great places. There are also teepees erected up in the tiny DeSmet Park and garden, and an Indian burial place beyond the cemetery.
1.8. Daly Mansion
A vast estate with a lengthy road bordered with trees is home to the majestic Daly Mansion which is in the largest town of bitterroot valley. Marcus Daly, one of Montana’s “copper kings,” who amassed wealth from the mining sector at the start of the 19th century, erected it.
Marcus Daly, a copper magnate and millionaire, his wife Margaret, and their four children lived in a two-story farmhouse that has since been transformed into a 24,000-square-foot mansion with 25 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms on 50 breathtaking acres in the Bitterroot Valley. The home was previously used as a summer residence and is now a museum.
The spacious grounds may be seen without a ticket during open hours, while the inside of the estate can be seen on a guided tour.
These were the 8 amazing places you can go to while exploring the “Bitterroot valley.” Keep up with the most recent changes affecting tourism in Montana, such as the reopening of several Yellowstone National Park gates.