Montana’s Small Towns: R – W
Red Lodge – Seeley Lake – Stevensville – Sula – Thompson Falls – Three Forks – Twin Bridges – Virginia City – West Yellowstone – White Sulphur Springs – Whitefish – Wolf Point
Red Lodge (pop. 2,237. south-central Montana) is on U.S. Highway 212, not far from Billings. Red Lodge is a small, alpine village. At some 5,555 feet in elevation, Red Lodge is a good place to stay cool when towns further out on the plains bake under the summer heat.
During the winter season, skiing is a favorite activity at Red Lodge Mountain ski area south of the city. The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary Center in Red Lodge is a popular attraction. Yellowstone National Park is the main outdoor attraction near Red Lodge.
The ascent into Yellowstone Park begins on the spectacular Beartooth Highway (U.S. Highway 212), just outside Red Lodge.
For summer fun, the Red Lodge Rodeo is a hot ticket on July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. Rodeo is king in Montana. Don’t miss this one.
Favorite Red Lodge Lodging: Pollard Hotel (406) 446-0001 (GPS map); Red Lodge Inn (406) 446-2030 (GPS map); Rock Creek Resort (406) 446-1111 (GPS map); Gallagher’s Irish Rose B & B (406) 446-0303 (GPS map) Favorite Red Lodge Restaurants: Old Piney Dell Restaurant; Dining Room at the Pollard Hotel; Wheat Montana Bakery & Deli; Red Lodge Cafe Attractions: Rock Creek; Fly Fishing; Hiking; Whitewater rafting; Red Lodge Mountain Resort (ski area); Rodeo on July 2, 3, 4; Beartooth Highway; Beartooth Mountains; Yellowstone National Park, 68 miles from Red Lodge.
Seeley Lake (pop. 1,659, northwest Montana) is on Montana State Highway 83. Seeley Lake is a popular tourist town in the spectacular Seeley Swan Valleys region.
The region is bordered by the Swan Mountains on the east and the Mission Mountains on the west. Highway 83 passes through Seeley Lake and is the scenic route between Kalispell and Missoula.
The towns of Swan Lake, Condon, and Seeley Lake provide essential services for the area’s many visitors. America’s most beautiful and undisturbed wilderness areas are located east of Highway 83.
The wilderness region extends over 80 miles south from Glacier National Park and is divided into three areas, the Great Bear Wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Scapegoat Wilderness. The entire region is very remote.
Wild rivers, beautiful lakes, and magnificent alpine forests make Montana’s wilderness an ideal destination for camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, nature photography, and other outdoor activities.
Outfitters and guides in the Seeley Lake area know the region well and are ready to help visitors enjoy a trip into the wilds. WTR Outfitter (406) 824-2471 takes guests on pack trips into wilderness areas and fly fishing on the Flathead River and other rivers.
Favorite Seeley Lake Area Lodging: Double Arrow Resort (406) 677-2777 (GPS map); Standing Stones Bed and Breakfast, 26 miles north of Seeley Lake (800) 822-5755 (GPS map); Seeley Swan Vacation rentals (406) 677-6000 Attractions: Camping and fishing; Seeley Lake; Bob Marshall Wilderness.
Stevensville (pop. 1,963, southwest Montana) is on U.S. Highway 93 south of Missoula. Located in the Bitterroot Valley, Stevensville is a trade and recreational center.
The Marcus Daly Mansion is a popular attraction in nearby Hamilton. Built in 1890, the 50-room Mansion was built by Marcus Daly, Montana’s legendary “Copper King.” The Marcus Daly Mansion is owned by the state of Montana and is open to the public.
Big Creek Pines, a bed and breakfast on U.S. 93, near the town of Stevensville offers lodging for sleepy travelers. Call (406) 642-6475.
Favorite Stevensville Lodging: The Stevensville Hotel (406) 777-3087 (GPS map); Bitterroot River Bed & Breakfast (406) 777-5205 (GPS map); Favorite Stevensville Restaurants: Fiesta en Jalisco; Frontier Cafe Attractions: Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge; Historic St. Mary’s Mission and Museum; Stevensville Historical Museum.
Sula (pop. about 37 folks, southwest Montana) is on U.S. Highway 93, south of Hamilton. Sula is a slice of the “Old West” rich in western tradition. Everyone is extra friendly in these parts of Montana.
Favorite Sula Place: Sula Country Store & Resort, restaurant, RV Park, cabins, cottages, and tent spaces too (406) 821-3364 (GPS map) Attractions: Painted Rocks State Park (and Painted Rocks Lake); Lake Como near Darby; Bitterrroot Mountains.
Thompson Falls (pop. 1,356, northwest Montana) is on Montana State Highway 200, near the Idaho border. Thompson Falls is a scenic village in the Clark Fork River Valley.
Thompson Falls is surrounded by the Lolo National Forest and the Coeur d’Alene and Cabinet Mountains. The entire area is a haven for fishing, camping, hiking, and hunting. Wildlife abound in the river valley and the forests surrounding Thompson Falls. River’s Bend Golf Course is popular with visitors.
Favorite Thompson Falls Lodging: The Riverfront Motel & RV Park (406) 827-3460 (GPS map); Thompson Falls Bed & Breakfast (406) 827-0282) Favorite Thompson Falls Restaurants: Minnie’s Montana Cafe Attractions: Clark Fork River; Cabinet Mountains.
Three Forks (pop. 1,944, southwest Montana) is on Interstate Highway I-90 west of Bozeman. Three Forks is remembered in history as the place where Hidatsa Indians raided a Shoshone camp and captured the young Indian girl Sacagawea in 1800.
Near Three Forks, the trout-filled Gallatin, Madison, and Jefferson Rivers come together and form the Missouri River. Lewis & Clark Caverns (a state park), about nineteen miles west of Three Forks, is known for its spectacular underground columns, stalagmites, and stalactites, formed over thousands of years.
Favorite Three Forks Lodging: Camp Three Forks, RV, tent, cabin open May 21 – Sept. 15 (406) 285-3611 (GPS map); Sacajawea Hotel (406) 285-6515 (GPS map) Favorite Three Forks Restaurants: Wheat Montana Deli; Three Forks Cafe; Iron Horse Cafe Attractions: Three Forks Saddlery (custom made saddles, belts, etc.); Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park; Headwaters Heritage Museum.
Twin Bridges (pop. 395, southwest Montana) is on Montana State Highway 41. Twin Bridges is cattle and sheep county and ranching is the dominant industry of the area. Twin Bridges is a slice of the “Old West” rich in western traditions.
Three major rivers, the Ruby, the Beaverhead and the Big Hole converge near Twin Bridges to form the Jefferson River. The nearby Tobacco Root Mountains add to the town’s charm. The historic gold mining town of Virginia City is a few miles southeast of Twin Bridges.
Favorite Twin Bridges Lodging: The Fenton House (rent entire house, minimum three nights) (406) 596-1080; The Stonefly Inn (406-684-5648) offers nice cabins and RV spots for travelers Favorite Twin Bridges Restaurants: In-Back Steak House in nearby Sheridan; The Old Hotel (a quaint restaurant – hours vary) Attractions: Fly-fishing; hiking; other outdoor activities.
Virginia City (pop. 198, southwest Montana) is on Montana State Highway 287, southwest of Bozeman. Virginia City is a big tourist attraction in Montana. Many well-preserved 19th century buildings show how things looked during Montana’s early placer gold mining days.
Gold was discovered along Alder Gulch near Virginia City in 1863. Virginia City soon became a boom town and was Montana’s Territorial Capital, but after the gold ran out, the capital was moved to Helena.
Merchants and lovers of history have made this historic gold mining camp a fun place to visit. Old buildings from the gold mining era still stand. The old courthouse was built in 1876 and is still in business rounding up outlaws.
Popular spots are the Bale of Hay Saloon, the Madison Dinner House, and the Old Time Photo Studio. The local Opera House offers summer theatre. Shows are a big hit with tourists.
Get A Guide to Historic Virginia City, by Marilyn Grant, can be purchased on Amazon.com for $9.95. ISBN 0-917298-56-X
West Yellowstone (pop. 1,353, southwest Montana) is a small town on U.S. Highway 191 southwest of Bozeman. West Yellowstone, is near the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
Many attractions are found in this nice village. The Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone is a great place to visit. The Center is home to several grizzly bears and a pack of gray wolves. The Yellowstone IMAX Theater is one of the top attractions. IMAX theaters are internationally know for spectacular multi-media presentations.
West Yellowstone, Montana is a tourist’s paradise. Merchants sell quality merchandise of all kinds. There’s a better selection here than at other gateway cities near Yellowstone. And, no sales tax.
Stay overnight in West Yellowstone and get an early morning start into Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful, the world’s most popular geyser, is a only few miles from the town of West Yellowstone.
Favorite West Yellowstone Lodging: Hibernation Station (406) 646-4200; Gray Wolf Inn and Suites (406) 646-0000; Yellowstone Park Hotel (877) 600-4308; another option is Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park & Cabins (GPS Coord.) (406) 646-4466 Favorite West Yellowstone Restaurants: Three Bear Restaurant; Canyon Street; Woodside Bakery Grille Attractions: Yellowstone National Park; IMAX Theatre; Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center.
White Sulphur Springs
White Sulphur Springs (pop. 908, central Montana) is on U.S. Highway 89. White Sulphur Springs is a small, friendly ranching town. The picturesque setting for the town is the beautiful Smith River Valley. The valley is surrounded by the Castle, Little Belt, and Big Belt Mountains.
Float trips on the Smith River are so popular that state officials who regulate recreation on the river must limit the number of daily launches. Floaters must get a permit from Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks before entering the river.
Some visitors use the services of local outfitters in the region who are licensed by the U.S. Forest Service to take people on float trips down the river. FWP ‘s Web site lists addresses of licensed outfitters. Trout fishing is another favorite activity on the Smith River.
White Sulphur Springs is a place waiting to be discovered. With no interstate highways nearby, the town is off the beaten path. The entire area is a natural wonderland. In town, Grandma’s Antiques and Collectibles is a popular stop for tourists.
Favorite Lodging in White Sulphur Springs: The Spa Hot Springs Motel (406) 547-3366 Favorite Restaurants: Dori’s Cafe Attractions: Mineral Hot Springs; Smith River; Little Belt Mountains; Castle Mountains; Lewis and Clark National Forest; The Castle (Byron Sherman House, a stone mansion).
Visit Clearwater River Realty in White Sulphur Springs
Whitefish (pop. 7,279, northwest Montana) is on U.S. Highway 93, north of Kalispell. In the summer, many visitors flock to Whitefish to play on beautiful Whitefish Lake. Water craft rentals, such as canoes, boats, and pontoons, are available for an outing on the lake. Visitors find enjoyment on Whitefish’s fabulous 36-hole golf course. All of this in an outdoors of uncommon natural beauty.
Many folks in the Whitefish area like to celebrate their German heritage. In 2017, the Great Northwest Oktoberfest in Whitefish runs for two weekends. The celebration begins on September 28 and closes on October 7. Join the party with great beer and bratwurst. Experience lederhosen, polka music, and much more, Fun!
Favorite Whitefish Lodging:
Firebrand Hotel opens July 15, 2016 (406) 863-4055; Grouse Mountain Lodge (406) 862-3000; The Lodge at Whitefish Lake (406) 863-4000 Favorite Whitefish Restaurants: Tupelo Grill; Logan’s Bar and Grill; Buffalo Cafe; Cafe Khandahar; Great Northern Bar and Grill; Whitefish Lake Restaurant; Corner House Grille Attractions: Whitefish Mountain Resort; Glacier National Park; Whitefish Lake State Park.
Wolf Point (pop. 2,806, northeast Montana) is on U.S. Highway 2. Wolf Point is a friendly farming and ranching community. The Missouri River flows near town.
Fort Peck Lake is the major attraction in this part of Montana. Fisherman regularly catch big walleyes, northern pike, and lake trout in Fort Peck Lake.
Wolf Point takes great pride in its cultural heritage and is home to the newly created Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. A surprise to many visitors, the “golden arches” are here to cook up a tasty burger for locals and hungry travelers.
Favorite Wolf Point Lodging: Sherman Inn (406) 653-1100 Attractions: Fort Peck Lake (reservoir on Missouri River); Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame.
Copyright © 2017 John Sandy