Category Archives: Fishing

Scenic Drives + Small-Town Discovery: Meet Thompson Falls + Tour 200

Thompson Falls is stunning in every season. Photo: Kate Baxter

First things first: Let’s talk 200. Discovery is inevitable on this road less traveled. State Highway 200 offers access to a slice of Montana that may not be on your radar, but should be. This treasure trove of outdoor recreation in the northwest part of the state is also chock-full of small-town surprises for those who like to wander off the beaten path.

The section of Highway 200 from Dixon to Heron is so scenic it’s been designated “Montana Tour 200.” It humbly winds its way through the Cabinet and Coeur d’Alene mountain ranges, with diverse side trips, scenic drives and backroad adventures offered all along the route. Recreation and solitude abound here, and so does authentic western hospitality. Folks are friendly and the lodging is cozy.

Where to stop…

Milepost 50 is where it’s at. Touted as a town “where the weather is always better than the forecast,” Thompson Falls boasts the warmest climate in the state. But that’s not all that makes it a year-round outdoor recreation hotspot. Nestled between the Lolo and Kootenai national forests, public lands are plenty, and “getting away from it all” is easy as pie. (We’ll talk more about pie in a sec.)

Hunting for solitude along a trail near Thompson Falls. Photo: Thompson Falls Main Street

Finding solitude here is pretty simple. Thousands of miles of trails offer adventure in every direction. Fall and winter are especially good for hunting and fishing—Outdoor Life magazine listed Thompson Falls #16 of the 35 best hunting and fishing towns in the country. It’s also a haven for hikers that’s exceptionally beautiful in the golden hues of autumn, and winter offers a snow-globe setting that’s simply magical by snowshoe. Pro tip: Quinn’s Hot Springs is right down the road in Paradise, and a post-adventure soak in Paradise sounds pretty heavenly, if you ask us.

Steam rises from the pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort in Paradise, Montana.

Speaking of winter, one of our favorite winter activities is snowmobiling, and the Thompson Falls area offers a motorized mecca for powder hounds. There are plenty of winter recreation opportunities including snowshoeing and sledding, but make sure to bring your own gear with you when you come.

Snowshoeing with the best kind of companion. Photo: Thompson Falls Main Street

In short, Thompson Falls is pretty awesome and totally unassuming. It’s also so friendly it’ll knock your socks right off and then offer you a nice spot to put your feet up by a warm fireplace. Actually, you’ll find that’s pretty common in Western Montana’s Glacier Country. Come Tour 200 and see for yourself.

THOMPSON TIPS:

Christmas on Main Street
Get festive in the Falls the first full weekend in December. Shop Main Street’s BUY LOCAL! event with fun activities, including the Main Street Scavenger Hunt, topped off with an evening parade for the whole family. The weekend also includes a musical at the local theater, a gingerbread competition at the Old Jail Museum and a Christmas Craft Show.

Island Park
There’s a little island on the Clark Fork River, and that little island has a park on it where you can view the Thompson Falls dam, a fish ladder, the Clark Fork River and valley, powerhouses, two bridges (including the newly renovated Historic High Bridge) and an old substation. Take a stroll down one of many trails and enjoy a picnic lunch with an incredible view.

Built in 1915, the Thompson Falls Dam can be found on the Clark Fork River.

Minnie’s Montana Café
This mom-and-pop must-stop is a local favorite for homestyle cooking and comfort food, and, of course, that pie we mentioned earlier. The pie so good here you’ll be wondering if your grandmother is hiding in Minnie’s kitchen.

You must try Minnies Montana Cafe on Main Street.

Little Bear Ice Cream
Ice Cream in the winter? Yes please. Even after pie? Absolutely. When it’s some of the best ice cream in the state, you’ll be in the mood for Little Bear any time of year.

Save room for dessert at Little Bear.

See you on 200.

Fall in Montana

This morning, I headed out the door bound for work. And while Montana is still in the trenches of summer, I felt something completely different. A new feeling that could only mean one thing—fall.

And while I’m not trying to rush summer out the door (I literally want her to stay as long as possible), I couldn’t help but let my mind water to fall in Western Montana.

My mind wandered to this scene of the Flathead River, taken last fall.

An early morning on the Flathead River, taken last fall.

It’s just that fall is so lovely. It’s filled with mild temperatures, changing colors, perfect fly-fishing conditions and a delicious breeze that manages to combine fresh, crisp mountain air with the warm smell of sun-drenched grass, pumpkins and cider.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how I can share the awesomeness of fall in Montana with you. Because let’s get serious…you and I both know that my beloved Montana is not one of the first places you think of when you think of awesome fall destinations.

But, it should be. Here’s why…

Fall Colors
I’m calling it: Montana is an up-and-coming fall foliage viewing destination. While we may not have the gorgeous colors of Michigan or the spectacular array of reds found on the east coast, Montana gets its shine on in the form of brilliant shades of yellows and golds, with splashes of reds and oranges in the underbrush.

Autumn colors in Glacier National Park.

Autumn colors in Glacier National Park. Photo: Donnie Sexton.

Glacier National Park
While the height of visitation to my most favorite place happens during July and August, as far as I’m concerned September and October are totally the belle of the ball in terms of times to visit Glacier National Park. Why? a) The crowds are gone. b) The hiking trails are open and you and your hiking buddy may be the only one on them. c) The fall colors combined with the peaks are a site to see. d) Time restrictions on cyclists biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road are lifted after Labor Day.

A shoulder season trip with Glacier Park Boat Company in Two Medicine.

A shoulder season trip with Glacier Park Boat Company in Two Medicine.

Fishing
To be honest, there’s no time of year I’d rather fly-fish in Western Montana than autumn. I think it’s the quietness of the river, the crisp edge in the air and the relaxation that comes along with it.

Fishing on the Bitterroot River. Photo courtesy of Mike Brodwater

Fishing on the Bitterroot River. Photo: Mike Brodwater

Golf
Even though I may not be known for my stellar golf game, I can still appreciate a beautiful course that plays nicely. You know what else I appreciate? A golf season that reaches into the shoulder season so people like me can hit the links and not be afraid of hitting other golfers.

Epic Events
Montana has some sweet fall events. Topping my personal list are Montana Dragon Boat Festival on Flathead Lake, Montana Brewers Festival in Missoula, Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish and Scarecrow Festival in Stevensville.

Paddles up!

Paddles up!

Wishing you a fun-filled and delicious smelling fall,
TT

A Montana Father’s Day

HEY DADS!

Now that I’ve got your attention, I’ve got three words to say to you: Happy Father’s Day.

This Sunday, it’s all about you. And not just because the word “father” is in this day’s title.

We honor you because without you, we literally wouldn’t be here. (Mom can’t have a baby on her own, you know). But that’s not the only reason. We also honor you because of the man you are. As it turns out, you’re a pretty cool guy. Heck, any guy who frets over his baby girls, teaches his boys how to do manly things (like change tires, kill spiders and be nice to their sisters), leads by example and brings home the bacon deserves to be acknowledged at least once per year.

Re-enacting a photo with our dad from one of our earliest trips to Glacier National Park.

Re-enacting a photo with our dad from one of our earliest trips to Glacier National Park.

I’ve known some pretty stellar men in my life and I count my lucky stars for each of them. For me, a dad is more than just a father. And I think it’s okay to have more than one dad (said the girl with two dads). After all, a dad is a man who comes in many forms, whether it may be biological, adopted, step-dad, grandpa, big brother or uncle. So today, I give special gratitude, appreciation and thanks to all the men out there who play a fatherly role in someone’s life.

Sometimes if you ask nicely, you can convince your dad and step-mom to be in photo shoots for you.

Sometimes if you ask nicely, you can convince your dad and step-mom to be in photo shoots for you.

So in honor of Father’s Day, I’ve rounded up a couple of activities that may be the perfect way to celebrate this father of all weekends.

Free Fishing Weekend
This includes two magic words: free and fishing. (What dad doesn’t love a good deal, right?) In honor of Father’s Day, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is offering free fishing throughout Montana on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

Free Rafting for Dads
Wild River Outfitters in West Glacier knows the way to a dad’s heart: a free rafting trip. This weekend, dads raft free with family trips. To reserve a trip, call 406.387.9453 and request the “Dad’s Deal.”

For more ideas on how to spend your weekend, check out Western Montana’s event calendar.

Wishing you and your dad a wonderful Father’s Day,
TT

 

 

 

 

A Girl Needs To Fish

Truth #1: I’ve had a hankering to fish all summer. (As in a I-couldn’t-get-it-out-of-my-head-and-thought-about-it-all-of-the-time type of hankering).

Truth #2: I did not go fishing all summer.

Considering these two truths and where I live, you wouldn’t think it would be that difficult to go fishing. But before I knew it, summer had come and gone and fall was here smacking me across the face and reminding me that I didn’t do the ONE thing I had been jonesing for the last few months.

And for this girl, that just didn’t seem right. So I did what any logically thinking, smart-minded, innovative messy-haired person would do. I rounded up some buddies and went fishing. And it, my friends, was grand.

Where did we cast our lines?

First, we traveled south to the Bitterroot River where we met our guides with Montana Hunting & Fishing Adventures and spent the next several hours floating and fishing.

Favorite shot of the day.

Throughout the duration of our float, my cast went from not strong or pretty to slightly improved. After a day of instruction and fine-tuning, I’m happy to report that I landed one fish–a little, yet feisty fella.

Ya buddy. (Photo courtesy of my friend and fishing companion, Mike Brodwater).

The next stop on our journey had us traveling north, with a stop in Missoula to meet up with the nice guides from Grizzly Hackle. While the gentlemen in the group talked fishing, I did once of the things I do best–perused the shop.

Fish + Montana = LOVE.

Waders. Don't mind if I do.

After a pit stop in Missoula, our fish-loving crew north to the Middle Fork of the Flathead River and met up with Glacier Anglers. It was here, I’m very happy to report, that I caught six fish. And while that was the low number for the day (my companions all out-fished me), I take solace in the fact that my guide/friend said I had the prettiest fish of the day.

Want to make a grown man smile? Take him fishing.

Beauty queen.

Here’s to many more days filled with fishing rods, locally tied flies and the great waters of Montana.

xo,
TT

PS: Who wants to go fishing? Call me.