Tag Archives: Bitterroot Valley

Fall in Montana: Exploring the Bitterroot Valley

I think L.M. Montgomery said it best when she wrote, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” Truth be told, October (with November being a close second) is one of the most underrated months of the year, especially in Montana. And I get it. Weather in Montana can be a little unpredictable, but if you’re bold enough to visit in October you’re going to find that it’s actually quite lovely. Plus, when the weather has one of her “moods” she typically snaps out of it pretty quickly and returns to her pleasant self, complete with sunshine and gorgeous fall foliage.

October in Hamilton.

October in Hamilton, Montana.

And as we all know I’m in a constant search for fall colors in October, my road trip buddy and I decided to hit the road to Montana’s Bitterroot Valley. Located just south of Missoula, the Bitterroot Valley is flanked by the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east. It’s also home to the Bitterroot River, lots of cute towns, incredible history and it still has plenty of open spaces to explore. And while we only had a few hours to explore, we soaked up as many incredible fall moments as we could with stops at Travelers’ Rest State Park in Lolo, the Daly Mansion in Hamilton and St. Mary’s Mission in Stevensville.

Take a look…

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana's weather was dramatic.)

As we left Missoula, a soft snow started to fall. (I told you Montana’s weather was moody.)

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine returned.

And just like that, she snapped out of it and sunshine began to return.

Our first stop: Travelers' Rest.

Our first stop: Travelers’ Rest.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Crossing the bridge at Lolo Creek.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, this site of Travelers' Rest was used by Montana's First Nations.

Prior to being used by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the site of Travelers’ Rest was used by Montana’s First Nations as a gathering place and trading grounds.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary's Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

We also made a stop to see the Historic St. Mary’s Mission, which celebrated its 175th anniversary in September 2016.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it's out of a western movie set.

Main Street in Victor, Montana, looks like it’s out of a western movie set.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

The Bitterroot River (with the Bitterroot Mountains) in the background.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

Up next: the Daly Mansion Museum AKA one of my favorite places.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion.

The view of the grounds from the front porch of the Daly Mansion. The mansion’s grounds are one of the best places in Western Montana to see fall colors.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana's countryside, it warms my heart.

No matter how many times I see a barn in Montana’s countryside, it warms my heart.

You'll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

You’ll also find small farms and ranches up and down the valley.

Our last stop (and one of my favorite places): the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

Our last stop: the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. PS: Read more about the refuge here.

If you plan to explore the Bitterroot Valley, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
-The valley is long (as in 96 miles long) and there’s so much to explore. I’d recommend noting a few of the key places you want to visit and then just see where the trip takes you. Basically, have a flexible plan for your visit.
-Take time to stroll the communities in the valley. Stevensville, Hamilton and Darby have charming downtowns with locally owned shops, boutiques and restaurants.
-If you like local beer, the valley is home to some great breweries. Check out Lolo Peak Brewing Company in Lolo, Bandit Brewing Co. in Darby, Blacksmith Brewing Company and Wildwood Brewery in Stevensville, and Higherground Brewing and Bitterroot Brewing Company in Hamilton. PS: the fish tacos at Bitterroot Brewing are amazing and Higherground Brewing has yummy pizza and salads.
-While you can do a day trip to the Bitterroot Valley from Missoula, it’s definitely worth staying a night or two. For lodging options, consider Alta Ranch in Darby (be sure to bring your fishing rod), Bitterroot Cabins in Hamilton, Time After Time Bed & Breakfast in Victor and Stevensville Hotel in Stevensville.
-If you’re doing a day trip, be sure to travel on Highway 93 one way and the Eastside Highway on your return trip.
-There’s abundant outdoor recreation options in the valley and it’s perfect for hiking, biking, bird watching, fly-fishing and camping.
-Be sure to check out the Bitterroot Trail, a 50-mile-long walking and biking path that connects Missoula and Hamilton.

And as for me, I’ll always be glad to live in a world (and a place like Montana) where there are Octobers.

xo,
TT

A Day Trip to Montana’s Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

I don’t know about all of you, but from time to time I feel the need to get away from it all. Away from the office, away from my desk, away from my couch and away from the modern-day distractions that are way too good at distracting me. And since one of my goals (I don’t really do resolutions) for 2016 is to have more adventures and to spend more time soaking up the special moments and experiences that surround me, New Year’s Day seemed like the perfect day to get away and start the year off on the right note.

Saying goodbye to 2015 + hello to 2016.

Saying goodbye to 2015 + hello to 2016.

To kick-start 2016, I headed to one of my favorite places: the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Located near Stevensville (and literally 27 minutes from my house), the Lee Metcalf is one of my go-to places for an outside jaunt. And while I’ve visited the 2,800-acre refuge several times, there was something different about this visit. I’m not sure if it was the absolute stillness, the freezing January temperatures or the perfect sunset that cast its glow over the area’s mountains, but whatever it was I do know this: it was just what I needed.

Complete stillness at the refuge.

Complete stillness at the refuge.

Taking flight.

Birds taking flight.

Twilight reflects on the Bitterroot Mountains.

Twilight reflects on the Bitterroot Mountains.

A lingering ray of sunlight lit up the peak west of the refuge.

A lingering ray of sunlight lit up the peak west of the refuge.

Shades of pink + Montana = two of my favorite things.

Shades of pink + Montana = two of my favorite things.

I left that night feeling calm, fulfilled and ready to tackle a new year. And for that, I’m grateful. Here’s to having all the adventures we can, to knowing when to take the time to reset and to exploring the countless treasures that are found in our own backyards.

xo,
TT

A Winter Day at Triple Creek Ranch

Earlier this week, my travels led me to Triple Creek Ranch. A luxury guest ranch (and a Relais & Châteaux property), Triple Creek is located south of Darby in the Bitterroot Mountains in one of the most charming settings in Montana.

As my travel buddy and I made our way south down the valley and toward the ranch, we were greeted with freshly fallen snow that made the drive one of the prettiest I’ve taken this winter.

Winter perfection along West Fork Road.

Winter perfection along West Fork Road.

While I’ve visited Triple Creek Ranch before, this time was different. Maybe it was the snow-covered trees and the bits of blue sky peeking through the clouds. Or maybe it’s because Christmas was just a few days away and everything seems a bit more magical during this time of the year. Whatever it was, it made this visit pretty special. And while I don’t seem to have the proper words to describe the perfect winter wonderland that Triple Creek Ranch is, I’m going to show you instead.

The entrance to the main lodge.

The entrance to the main lodge.

My visit started with a grilled ham and cheese, because winter.

My visit started with a grilled ham and cheese, because winter.

These horses posed perfectly throughout lunch. ;)

These horses posed perfectly throughout lunch. 😉

After lunch in the dining room, we headed up to the lounge to relax and belly up on these perfect bar stools.

After lunch in the dining room, we headed up to the lounge to relax and belly up on these perfect bar stools.

This tree (located in the lounge) was the best-smelling Christmas tree ever.

This tree (located in the lounge) was the best-smelling Christmas tree ever.

One of the most stunning things about Triple Creek Ranch: the setting.

One of the most stunning things about Triple Creek Ranch: the setting.

The view from one of the bedrooms in the Ponderosa Cabin.

The view from one of the bedrooms in the Ponderosa Cabin.

After all, let’s face it: everything is just a little more magical during December.

Happy Christmas,
TT

The Top 3 Fall Drives in Western Montana

This year, fall in Montana has been absolutely lovely. The colors are stunning, the temperatures are comfortable and — get this — there is literally hardly anyone here. During this season, I’ve been able to do a bit of road tripping around Western Montana’s Glacier Country and my recent travels have secured fall as one of my favorite times of year.

In case you’re like me and want to get out and soak up the fall colors and Montana’s fresh mountain air, I’ve rounded up my top picks for fall road trips in Montana.

Glacier National Park
There are some misconceptions that the park shuts down after the Going-to-the-Sun Road closes for the season. That, my little lovelies, is false. Two things: Glacier National Park is indeed open year-round; and the Going-to-the-Sun Road is OPEN from West Glacier to Logan Pass through October 16, 2016 (weather dependent). Also, the views and fall colors along the Going-to-the-Sun Road are absolutely stunning.

Red Rock Falls.

Red Rock Falls.

Yellows and golds light up the mountainsides along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Yellows and golds light up the mountainsides along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Two other places to check out: the North Fork and the Two Medicine Valley on the east side.

Bowman Lake in the North Fork. Photo: Jesse Hansen

Bowman Lake in the North Fork. Photo: Jesse Hansen

And the best part? It will feel like you have the park’s one million acres all to yourself (because you basically will).

The Bitterroot Valley
I’m just going to say it: Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is a leaf-peeping lover’s dream. Sitting at nearly 100 miles long and framed by the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and Sapphire Mountains on the east, the valley has a beautiful composition of color. Plus, it’s home to some of the cutest small towns in the state. Some of my favorite places to see the valley’s fall foliage: Highway 93 from Missoula to Sula, the West Fork Road near Darby and the Daly Mansion in Hamilton.

Fresh snow + fall colors on the Bitterroot Mountains.

Fresh snow + fall colors on the Bitterroot Mountains.

Fall foliage starting to change along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River.

Fall foliage starting to change along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River.

The lane leading up to the Daly Mansion is framed by leaves of gold, yellow, red and orange.

The lane leading up to the Daly Mansion is framed by leaves of gold, yellow, red and orange.

Highway 2 between West Glacier and Browning
This road connects the east side and west side of Montana, crossing the Continental Divide at Marias Pass and skirting along the southern border of Glacier National Park. Personally, this is one of my favorite fall drives. There’s not a lot of traffic, you’re surrounded by wilderness and wild places and the landscape changes so much between the west and east side. You’ll start in mountainous terrain and end along the Rocky Mountain Front where the plains run directly into the rising peaks of the Rockies.

One of the many pullouts along Highway 2.

One of the many pullouts along Highway 2.

Highway 2 follows the Middle Fork of the Flathead River for several miles.

Highway 2 follows the Middle Fork of the Flathead River for several miles.

Another view along Highway 2.

Another view along Highway 2.

One of the entrance points to the Blackfeet Nation: home to the Blackfeet Tribe.

One of the entrance points to the Blackfeet Nation, home to Montana’s largest tribe: the Blackfeet.

Where are some of your favorite fall drives in Montana?

xo,
TT

PS: You can check out more fall drives here.

A Montana Girl’s Love Letter to 2013

Well, another year has come and gone. And to be honest, I can hardly believe it! It’s like the older I get, the faster time seems to go. (Side note: I’m beginning to sound like my mama!)

While time continues to sprint away from me, I can say with much satisfaction that 2013 was a wonderful year…one I’ll remember fondly. From start to finish, it was full of adventures, celebrations and spectacular Montana moments.

Here’s a look back at some of my favorite moments of 2013…

January, February & March

Winter beauty in the barrow pit.

Winter beauty in the barrow pit.

Exploring one of my new favorite places--Kerr Dam in Polson.

Visiting one of my new favorite places–Kerr Dam in Polson.

Exploring the Swan Mountains.

Exploring the Swan Mountains.

Dog sledding (my first time!) on Swan Lake.

Dog sledding (my first time!) on Swan Lake.

April, May & June

Marveling at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Marveling at the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.

Visiting my hometown. Go Elks!

Visiting my hometown. Go Elks!

Celebrating the 80s with these lovely ladies.

Celebrating the 80s with these lovely ladies.

Soaking up the beauty of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge.

Soaking up the beauty of Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge.

Meeting this sweet nephew.

Meeting this sweet nephew.

My favorite view...in May.

Having my breath taken away by the Mission Mountains in St. Ignatius.

Hiking to Avalanche Lake in the rain.

Hiking to Avalanche Lake in the rain.

Striking our best "Bridesmaids" pose at a perfect summer wedding.

Striking our best “Bridesmaids” pose at a perfect summer wedding.

Taking in a small town rodeo.

Taking in a small town rodeo.

July, August & September

Catching the sunset at Placid Lake.

Catching the sunset at Placid Lake.

Eating as many Flathead and Rainier cherries as possible.

Eating as many Flathead and Rainier cherries as possible.

Visiting Waterton Lakes National Park with my baby brother.

Visiting Waterton Lakes National Park with my baby brother.

Celebrating a Missoula wedding.

Celebrating a Missoula wedding.

Soaking up the grandeur of Glacier National Park.

Soaking up the grandeur of Glacier National Park.

October, November & December

Exploring a Montana backroad.

Exploring a Montana backroad.

Spending time on the Blackfeet Nation.

Spending time on the Blackfeet Nation.

Kissing my newest nephew as much as possible.

Kissing my newest nephew as much as possible.

Taking in a bird's eye view of Western Montana.

Taking in a bird’s eye view of Western Montana.

Welcoming winter.

Welcoming winter.

My first rod.

My first fly rod.

Ending the year in St. John, with my 406 hat.

Ending the year in St. John, complete with my Montana-lovin’ 406 hat.

As for 2014? I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

Wishing you all love, joy and happiness as you journey through 2014.

xo,
TT

Enter To Win Your Own Montana Mountain (and ski with Tommy Moe)

If you stop and listen long enough, you’ll hear it.

It’s the slow, sweet anticipation of Montana’s winter season. One filled with fresh powder, short lift lines and a rewarding soak in the local hot springs. Basically, the kind of season dreams are made of. This year, I’m looking forward to winter even more than usual. Why? Because we’re giving away a Montana mountain.

That’s right, Glacier Country Tourism is GIVING AWAY Lost Trail Powder Mountain in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley for an entire day. With that comes a private day of skiing for the winner (and 10 of his/her closest friends), lift tickets, ski rentals, food and drinks and a $1,000 travel voucher.

This could be yours. Photo courtesy of Chris Johnson/Lost Trail

This could be yours. Photo courtesy of Chris Johnson/Lost Trail

Oh, and one more thing. The winner will be skiing with Tommy Moe. (As in Montana native and Olympic gold and silver medalist, Tommy Moe).

Just an Olympic medalist shredding down some slopes.

Just an Olympic medalist shredding down some slopes.

I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why in the world are you giving away a mountain and a chance to shred Montana’s sweet slopes with Tommy Moe?”

It’s simple. Winter is awesome. And winter in Montana? That’s even more awesome.

To enter to win your own private day of skiing at Montana’s Lost Trail with Tommy Moe, sign up here or on facebook by October 31, 2013.

Happy shredding,
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.

These are a Few of my Favorite (Montana) Things

While raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens may have a song about them, I must say they don’t compare to a few of my favorite things…which are early morning sunrises, cutesy small towns, crisp mountain air and sparkling night stars.

And I’m delighted to tell you that in the last few days, this girl was able to see many of my favorite things, plus a hearty helping of some new favorites…

Trapper Peak (seen in the distance) is the highest point in the Bitterroot Mountains.

Montana's state flower: the bitterroot.

Dear Darby, thank you for the welcome. I'm tickled to be here.

Perhaps the cutest bathroom signs in Montana.

Lake Como is absolutely stunning.

I've never met a milkshake I didn't like, but this one from Memories Cafe in Corvallis was delicious.

Every good Montana girl should own a pocket knife.

Locally made huckleberry fudge at The Old West Gallery, Antiques & Candy Store in Darby.

The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for birding and bonding.

Happy weekend,
TT

A Piece of Loveliness: Montana’s Bitterroot Valley

A few days ago, I packed my bags and headed south with two of the loveliest ladies in Montana. Our destination? The Bitterroot Valley. Our goal: To experience as much Montana goodness as our little hearts could handle.

And did we ever.

Here’s a peak at our journey…

The Holt Museum at Travelers' Rest in Lolo.

Birding at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge.

Montana-style wine glasses.

The Daly Mansion.

Trying on hats at Alpaca Hill Drygoods.

Powder Thursday at Lost Trail Powder Mountain.

A display of barbed wire from the mid- to late-1800s at the Ravalli County Museum.

Root beer (is it delicious!) from Higherground Brewing Co. in Hamilton.

It’s been a great week.
TT

Snow Day!

Happy Friday from Montana! As you may have heard, Western Montana has been being hit with EPIC snowfall. And I don’t use the word epic lightly.

I’m talking about the kind of snowfall that had Lost Trail Powder Mountain receiving 50″ in the last 48 hours, Montana Snowbowl welcoming 26″ in the last 48 hours, Lookout Pass Ski Area garnering 22″ in the last 48 hours, Blacktail Mountain Ski Area welcoming 13″ in the last 48 hours, Whitefish Mountain Resort recording 7″ in the last 48 hours and Turner Mountain Ski Area accumulating 20″ this week.

But instead of telling you, I’d rather show you.

Morning in Missoula.

Fresh powder at Whitefish Mountain Resort. Photo by Brian Schott.

The morning commute in Missoula. Photo by Taylar Robbins.

The Apgar Lookout webcam in Glacier National Park.

Mike Hardisty riding at Lookout Pass. Photo courtesy Lookout Pass.

Happy winter!
TT

PS: If you’re ready to come play in the snow on your winter toy of choice, check out these travel deals from local Montana businesses.