Tucked away between the Bitterroot Mountains to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east, is one of Crystal’s favorite places in Montana.
Hamilton, Montana was founded by copper king, Marcus Daly. He found his fortune in the mines near Anaconda, MT. Timing was perfect, as Edison had recently developed the light bulb and copper would be in high demand.
In 1886 Marcus Daly purchased the Chaffin Homestead in the Bitterroot as a summer home for the family. The home has been remodeled three times, with the last remodel finished in 1910. The mansion is 24,000 square feet and houses over 50 rooms.
The mansion holds numerous events through the year, including tours of the Georgia-Revival style home. We thoroughly enjoyed the tour and walking the grounds.
The museum is housed in the former courthouse built in 1900. The museum has numerous permanent exhibits all with a focus on the local history. We enjoyed learning more about how the early industries of the valley, including agriculture and logging.
The rotating exhibit “Illuminating Darkness Montana Cave Exploration” was super interesting to see just how many caves the state has. Most are located in remote wilderness areas… don’t think the Landcruiser would be welcomed there.
The Redsun Labyrinth in Victor, Montana is set at the base of the Bitterroot Mountains. We checked this out as it was near Trappers Peak Outfitters and we were staying there that evening.
The labyrinth was opened in December 1999. The labyrinth is 108′ diameter, making it one of the largest in the United States. 25 tons of field stones were used to make the pattern that can also be found in the Chartres Cathedral in France constructed in 1220. The total walk in and out is 4/5 of a mile. 173 lavender plants are also part of the labyrinth.
It is a tool used for walking meditation, and you are encouraged to bring a trinket to leave. It is stated that there is no right or wrong way to walk a labyrinth, and to do what feels natural for you.
Besides the labyrinth, the grounds have a beautiful natural garden that you are also encouraged to explore.
As Montana’s first permanent white settlement, Fort Owen State Park was an interesting find in Stevensville, MT. Founded by Major John Owen in 1850, the site had Montana’s first Catholic Church, first sawmill, first grist mill, first ag developement, first water right and the first school.
The site is not large, only one acre in size, but the buildings and artifacts are on display. Ginger the border collie was a happy camper at this site as she was welcomed to explore the grounds with us.
One morning we grabbed a warm drink and delicious muffins from River Rising We had Ginger the border collie with us, so we sat outside. Plenty of folks walking the main street, which meant lots of head scratches for the dog. They also offer soups and sandwichs.
If you know us, you know that we LOVE pizza.
Higher Ground Brewery definitely hit the spot. The pizza dough is made fresh daily and you can tell! They also offer salads and of course handcrafted beer! Crystal tried a flight and enjoyed the seasonal autumn brew.
We received the tip about Naps Grill from a local (also an FJ40 owner). This burger place gives large portions and is made to order. Andy dove into a mushroom burger, while Crystal had the oriental crispy salad. Both plates were clean by the time the waitress picked them up.
Last place we want to share, was also our favourite of the trip. Bandit Brewing is a micro brewery and the smallest brewery in the state. We loved the atmosphere and took home a growler of the SunDog Kolsch and some canned Juggernaut. They had a Jalapeno Lime Wheat that we tried in our flight… all we can say is that it’s interesting…
Want to learn more about the Bitterroot Valley in Montana?
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Although we’ve been dreaming of summer here at North End, I keep thinking back to the beautiful autumn we had. Especially our trip to the Bitterroot Valley. The day we visited Blodgett Canyon, the sun was out and the views were spectacular!
Turning at Blodgett Camp Road, we took a left onto 735 Canyon Creek. 736 Blodgett Creek takes you to a campground and Blodgett Trailhead (another trip perhaps!). Canyon Creek offers spectacular views of the city below and we found a rock out cropping to have our lunch in the sunshine.
Reading about the Blodgett Overlook trailhead it says that the trail is moderate and at mile 3 you encounter a beautiful view of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (once again, another trip!). Blodgett Canyon, named after a local area settler (Joseph Blodgett), was created by ice age glaciers which created steeply carved granite features.
This is a quick roadtrip for fantastic views, a moderate hike to spectacular over looks or if you rock climb, the South Face of Flathead Buttress, is known as one of the best in the area.
Although we didn’t make the hike, the drive was still special and the views of the Bitterroot Valley were worth the trip up the mountain!
Growing up, Andy’s parents had a cabin on the Flathead Reservation. Not on Flathead Lake (it did have amazing views of it though!) it was at the base of Chief Cliff and near a smaller lake.
The legend about Chief Cliff tells of Chief Eneas riding to the top and proclaiming that the tribe had lost respect for the elders. He gave strong words of advice and then turned his horse away from the edge. To the surprise of the onlookers he abruptly changed directions and took himself and his horse over the edge.
They say you can still see a silhouette of a maiden, arm outstretched to the sky mourning for Chief Eneas half way up the cliff.
Black Lake is located on tribal lands and a Flathead Indian Reservation Recreation Permit is required. Be sure to pick one up at the Polson Walmart before your trip to avoid paying a fine.
The sun was shining, a great turn out of all types of rigs and side-by-sides, and all you can eat oysters at the end of the ride at the Hilltop Hitching Post in Marion, MT.
In this post we’ve compiled the ultimate 2018 gift list, everything to make sure
“you-are-the-best-insert relationship here-ever!”
to your favorite off road enthusiast!
Click on the title of each item to be linked to their website!
Show off your favorite rig, even at the office Christmas party! Tool and Dye Designs has over 500 designs, so you know you’ll be sure to find your favorite ride.
While on their site, be sure to sign up for “The Beard’s” (yes, he has a God given name… but ain’t nobody calling him by it) email list. He sends great tips and keeps you up to date on any sales in the shop.
The sisters at Chatham Ivy created a line of water color designs that celebrates the spirit of New England and their fun loving dad, Nick Noble. Good thing for all of us he was into classic rigs! Be sure to order by December 10th to have one of their designs under your tree this year!
We fell in love with their Wicked Landcruiser long sleeve for obvious reasons:
Ford Bronco to Woody Wagons, they have your preppy vintage 4×4’s covered!
When Andy saw this stocking he got the idea the Landcruiser needed her own stocking… to which Crystal replied- “heck yes”!
The stocking is created by Scott in Sheridan, WY. He creates the stocking out of recycled coffee bags. Scott then hand sews the felt and screen prints the FJ40. Pointy Hat Designs also offers FJ55, FJ60 and FJZ80 + Norwegian designs!
Scott was also awesome enough to send us a FJ40 Land Cruiser screen printed plush ornament/Dash Buddy. He also screen prints the vehicle and then hand paints the ornament.
Use code 25PERCENTOFF at checkout to receive 25% off your order of $25 or more.
The crew at Air Out There sent over three of their car air fresheners… which led to an argument about which one was going in which rig-
They all smell AH-MA-ZING!
Lola the Landcruiser received first choice and has their “Bolonias” hanging from her rear view mirror. It’s a great coconut smell and makes us want to hit the road and wind up somewhere tropical! Crystal’s daily driver has their “Marlin” (inspired by ocean breezes and saltiness) and Andy’s daily has their “Sierra”, which makes you feel as if you are driving through a forest of redwoods.
We were super impressed with the scents and appreciate that all their air fresheners are printed with eco friendly inks on recycled paper in the good ol’ US of A.
David at Venture Works is all about getting out and enjoying adventures. He has a mix of activities covered on his Etsy shop, but of course we had to rock the FJ40 Adventure Chaser. FJ40 not your thing (what is wrong with you?) He also has designs of FJ60, BJ40 and even a Jeep design.
Need something modified? Talk to David! He’s open to small customizations such as color, location of design and printing onto tank tops instead of t-shirts.
Be sure to tune into our social media pages on Friday, December 7th to learn how you can win some swag from David at Venture Works!
We heard about this brand from our nephew, at first Andy didn’t get his excitement… oh but now he does! Saxx is changing the game when it comes to men’s underwear. They have an innovative design that keeps everything in place and supported, without feeling like a rig on a tight trail.
With breathable mesh panels and Flat Out Seams™, the BallPark Pouch™ helps you to not feel like your skin is getting a trail pin stripe. Jeepster, the vintage rig print we received, comes in shop briefs, shop boxer briefs, shop loose boxer briefs and multi pack!
This compact leather journal makes capturing your thoughts while on the back roads a snap. It fits standard 3.5″ x 5.5″ notebooks and only gets better with age!
Cruiser Convoy also has other Landcruiser inspired gifts- key chains, leather consoles inserts, wallets, shirts, etc.
One of Crystal’s favorite hats is the Cruiser Convoy Trucker Hat!
There are other overlanding memberships that are offered, but we choose to feature Veteran Overland. Andy is a Marine Corp veteran and we know how important groups like Veteran Overland are.
A membership with Veteran Overland brings the recipient into a community of like minded individuals that are out to “Hunt the good stuff”.
$5 of every membership goes directly to a veteran organization. As for the perks you receive for becoming a member of this elite group; patches with your membership number, 10% off products, access to being in the know for future events and a membership only facebook group!
We’ve put together some of our own swag here at North End Off Road. We have Lola the Landcruiser green can stubbies (learned that’s what the Aussies call can coozies… we like it), and North End Off Road decals.
Follow our social media to learn how to win 1 of 5 North End Off Road swag giveaways!
We think some of the best Christmas gifts are the ones that keep on giving through the year. What better way to show your overlander that you love them, but by buying them a gift membership to Overland Journal!
Overland Journal is produced five times through out the year (5 times a year your lucky overlander will be reminded that you think they are great). It is full of inspiring trips, featured builds, product reviews and even camp recipes.
When we first moved into our home we had awesome neighbors who gifted us the most AH-MA-ZING sugar cookies for our first holiday in the neighborhood. We convinced them to share their recipe and ever since, sugar cookies are the only cookies we make!
Why am I sharing?
No, it’s not to make your mouth water and your tummy grumble… The cookie cutters from Cheap Cookie Cutters are perfect for them! Karrie and Chris at Cheap Cookie Cutters have over 4000 designs to choose from- still can’t find the perfect shape? They can create it for you!