How Locals Enjoy Dillon Year-RoundFebruary 1, 2020
Ranch life. Here in Montana, that means loading up the truck and barreling down the gravel road until the dogs see the riverbank. It means planning your life around the next time you get to put on your camo and head out for a hunt. Most importantly, it means never taking for granted that your family has a little slice of paradise to enjoy for generations to come. Whether you’re at home on your ranch, hunting property, recreation property or horse property, or if you are longing to explore every nook and cranny of the sweeping valleys, life in Dillon, Montana is full of adventure. Here’s how we locals enjoy Dillon year-round.
This time of year is an adventurer’s paradise. As pristine powder coats the sage-covered hills, the unspoiled wilderness invites us to partake in its beauty.
No one is a stranger at Maverick Mountain, your new home away from home. Boasting no line at the lift, this hidden gem, tucked away in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, is just one way to spend less on a day of fun than you would on dinner. If downhill skiing isn’t your thing, explore your property on a pair of cross country skis. Stick to flat trails if this is your first attempt at this rigorous sport.
Working cattle all day calls for some rest and relaxation. There’s no better way to unwind than at one of the three hot springs within an hour’s drive from Dillon. Our favorite is Renova Hot Springs, a natural hot spring in the estuary of the Jefferson River. You’ll mostly find your neighbors from up the road in Whitehall here as it’s a local secret. But if you prefer something less off the beaten path, Jackson and Elkhorn Hot Springs are great alternatives.
Though you’ll never know what Mother Nature has in store, nothing’s better than getting outdoors when baby animals and verdant fields come to life in the brief springtime.
Fly fishers from across the globe frequent our backyard’s blue-ribbon trout streams. The Ruby, Big Hole, and Beaverhead Rivers all drain into this valley we call home. At nearly 70 miles long, the Beaverhead flows through countless properties in the area, and it’s known for housing more large brown trout than any other river in the state. If you have river fishing access on your property, be sure to grab a license (you’ll need a new one on March 1) and read up on regulations. New to fly fishing? Dillon’s plethora of guides and outfitters will have you feeling like a pro by summertime, so you’re just in time for summer and fall fishing seasons.
Outdoor Recreation & Historic Areas
Outdoor recreation around Dillon is plentiful. Bannack, Clark’s Lookout, Crystal Park, and the Pioneer Mountain Wilderness Area are just a few of the places that make up our area’s unique nature areas. Combine a love for nature with your love of history at Bannack State Park, one of our state’s most impressive ghost towns. With over 60 buildings still intact, locals have found a way to bring this Western gold-mining town alive again. Sharon Brown, a volunteer as a tailor for the park’s living history events, loves fielding questions from visitors. “We won’t break character,” she said. “You will be answered as if you were in 1860.” Just don’t try asking her where you can find gold.
It doesn’t last long, but it sure captures your heart. Summer in Dillon means the sunshine is plentiful and the opportunities to enjoy the Big Sky State are endless.
Grassy or gravely terrains are a magnet for off-road vehicles. And the harder we Montanans work, the harder we play afterwards. While bringing up dust on your own trails can offer hours of fun for the whole family, Dillon offers numerous Forest Service trails for four-wheelers or dirt bikers. And four wheeling is even more fun when you pair it with camping.
All the well-known campsites in the area draw a crowd during summer weekends. Families haul canoes, four-wheelers, and horses down narrow Forest Service roads to enjoy the natural beauty of our state. With only a few months of warm temperatures, it’s no wonder lakes and meadows echo with laughter from children catching their first fish or plucking a bouquet of wildflowers. Smoke from campfires roasting hot dogs, elk burgers and s’mores fog the brilliantly starry sky. These are memories you won’t want to miss out on.
While other parts of the country are thinking about pumpkin spice and Halloween, fall in Dillon is all about hunting. Kids call out of school with deer fever. Weddings are put on hold. If you bump into someone at Mac’s in blaze orange, make sure you ask about their hunt.
Nestled between the Pioneer Mountains and the McCarty Mountains, properties out here aren’t complete without horses. Besides being an essential ranch hand, these strong animals quickly become members of your family. They’ll be with you on breathtaking rides to see the sunset. They’ll teach your children and grandchildren responsibility. Riding isn’t seasonal, but your horse will be there when you scope out a new secret hunting spot before opening weekend.
Living in the Beaverhead Valley means you’re privy to some of the best elk hunting in the Rockies. Seasons span most of autumn with archery season opening in early September and lasting through mid-October. Rifle season lasts from the third Sunday in October until the end of November. As a landowner, it’ll be much easier obtaining tags for big game. Know that Montana imposes a 180-day waiting period for transplants wanting to buy in-state tags. Whether your first hunt on your new property gets you a trophy worth putting above the fireplace, you’ll have harvested meat your family can pass around the table until next fall.