When it comes to fall in Montana, there are few places prettier than the Bitterroot Valley. Sitting at 96 miles long and with the Bitterroot Mountains to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east, Montana’s Bitterroot Valley is full of small towns, wide-open spaces, scenic hikes and events that celebrate all things autumn.
To soak up fall in Montana, here are five must-do activities that are located throughout the Bitterroot Valley.
1. Stroll the grounds of the Daly Mansion Museum.
Sitting on more than 20 acres of manicured landscapes, the Daly Mansion was the summer home of one of Montana’s Copper Kings, Marcus Daly. Today, the museum is open for guided tours and its grounds are home to the Margaret Daly Memorial Arboretum, an outdoor historic arbor walkway and views of the nearby Bitterroot and Sapphire mountains. During fall, the driveway leading up to the museum is framed by stunning shades of gold, yellow, orange and red. Tours are offered daily through the first week of October.
2. Fish the Bitterroot River.
A blue-ribbon trout stream, the Bitterroot River weaves along 80 miles of terrain in the valley and is known for stellar year-round fishing. Fall is one of the best times of year to fish the Bitterroot River, especially as temperatures are constant and you’ll see fall foliage along the river. While you can fish the river on your own, there are also a variety of experienced fishing guides (including Bitterroot River Guides, Fly Fishing Always and Bitterroot Fly Company) in the valley who can take you out on the river.
3. Tour the Historic St. Mary’s Mission.
Often referred to as “where Montana began,” the Historic St. Mary’s Mission was the first permanent settlement in Montana and was founded in 1841 by Father Pierre DeSmet, a Jesuit priest. Today the mission is home to well-preserved buildings that include a historic chapel and cabins, as well as a visitor center and other important historical offerings. Guided tours of the site are offered April 15 – October 15.
4. Hike the Bitterroot Mountains.
Hands down, Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains are some of the most stunning in the state. Plus, they are home to incredible hiking trails, high alpine lakes and wildlife. Throughout the mountain range are a variety of hiking trails that are beautiful in the fall, with favorites including Blodgett Canyon Trail, Kootenai Creek Trail and Lake Como Loop Trail.
5. Attend a fall event.
Every autumn brings annual events to the valley, including the Scarecrow Festival and McIntosh Apple Day. Held in Stevensville, the Scarecrow Festival is held from October 4 – 12 in downtown and along the walking path. Meanwhile McIntosh Apple Day and Liquid Apple Night takes place in Hamilton at the Ravalli County Museum on October 4, with event highlights that include a street festival during the day and a hard apple cider festival during the evening.
For more fall travel inspiration, check out our website at VisitBitterrootValley.com.