We finally had a chance to break away from packing and prepping our house to hit the market next month. We took advantage of the opportunity and slipped away for a night in Woods Bay, on the shore of Flathead Lake.
The Islander Inn is a boutique hotel with eight bungalows. We spent the evening in their Zimbabwe themed room. Africa not your style? There is 7 other themes for you to choose from, including a Montana themed room named for the largest island on Flathead Lake, Wild Horse.
The Islander Inn is located within walking distance of three restaurants and bars. The Raven Bar and Grill, located directly across the street, shares the island vibe of the Islander, is known for its waterfront dining.
If you aren’t looking for the Caribbean on your trip to Woods Bay, the Bonfire located next door to the Islander, was created for gathering of old and new friends. The Bonfire sources local ingredients, including the booze!
Across the street from the Bonfire is the Sitting Duck. With its casual fine dining and drinks, two decks to enjoy the lake and a great local vibe- it’s easy to not want to leave Woods Bay. We encourage you to check out karaoke on Friday nights!
Woods Bay is one of our favorite local spots- summer via boat, winter via the Landcruiser!
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.