Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Hamilton, MT

  • Published 2022/07/21

If you’re thinking of a weekend getaway, check out this list of the best things to do in Hamilton, Montana.

Hamilton serves as the primary commercial hub for the hundreds of smaller farms, ranches, and orchards scattered across the valley.

It serves as the seat of Ravalli County, Montana.

In the latter half of the 19th century, copper magnate Marcus Daly established Hamilton.

J.W. Hamilton gave the railroad the right-of-way; therefore, the town was given his name in his honor.

The Daly Mansion is located in Hamilton.

Hamilton has one of the most excellent museums for its size.

And did you know that Netflix’s Umbrella Academy was filmed in Hamilton?

Several shooting sites around the city have been used in the show’s three seasons for you to see.

Read on to discover the best things to do in Hamilton, Montana!

Tour the Daly Mansion

Front view of Daly Mansion's exterior

DAN, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hamilton’s historic Daly Mansion is a must-see for history buffs and locals.

Copper King, an entrepreneurial Irish immigrant, bought Anthony Chaffin’s property in 1886 for his family to use as a summer retreat.

In 1896, he constructed the massive Queen Anne-style Victorian estate Riverside, where the family lived until the 1920s.

Margaret, the estate’s widow, completed the renovation in 1910.

Side view of Daly Mansion's exterior

DAN, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Daly Mansion includes around 50 rooms, including 25 bedrooms and 15 bathrooms.

The villa has seven fireplaces, five made with marble imported from Italy.

The estate sits on 46 wooded acres in the center of the Bitterroot Valley, with three stories and a total floor area of 24,000 square feet.

Learn about the History of Hamilton at the Ravalli County Museum

Until 1979, the A.J. Gibson-built Ravalli County Courthouse functioned as the county courthouse until it was spared from demolition by a popular vote and is now the Ravalli County Museum.

One of the best museums in the Northwest is presently housed in this building.

An extensive collection of Bertie Lord photographs, Bitter Root Valley logging, agricultural history, and massive historical files are all part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Northwest History.

Changing displays enhance the ambiance in the old courthouse, which has been converted into a cultural center.

The Ravalli County Society holds the Bitter Root Day, a street festival celebrating the Montana state flower and its Salish culture, and Mclntosh Apple Day, a street festival called “The Biggest Bake Sale Under The Big Sky” for its many baked goods and ciders.

It also hosts the Annual Cider Night, bringing cideries from the area for a night of tasting.

Go Fishing with Bitterroot Anglers

With more than three decades of knowledge, Bitterroot Anglers is the best place to go for big trout.

The Bitterroot, Clark Fork, Big Hole, and Missouri rivers are among the rivers you can fish.

Most of its activities focus on the Bitterroot Valley.

There are 14 distinct float tours and several wading possibilities on the Bitterroot River.

Dry fly fishing on the river is legendary.

Despite the absence of a hatch, trout are eager to take the dry fly.

It’s all catch-and-release fly fishing on its outings and fly-fishing and guide school courses.

Explore the Bitterroot National Forest

Frozen creek at Bitterroot National Forest

Ashlee Stone /

Montana and Idaho’s 1.6 million-acre Bitterroot National Forest is located in the Northern Rocky Mountains.

Selway-Bitterroot, Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Areas, and Anaconda Pintler are also found in this forest.

Its rich wildlife includes bears, moose, mule, big horn sheep, whitetail deer, and Rocky Mountain goats.

This park is an excellent place for birdwatchers and photographers to witness an abundance of songbirds, falcons, birds of prey, and other wildlife.

Gophers, chipmunks, beavers, porcupines, woodchucks, rabbits, and other wildlife may be seen and photographed in shady forests, along calm streams, and on windswept ranges.

Have a Picnic at Kiwanis Park

Many attractive public parks compete for your attention in Hamilton if you’re ever restless.

Hamilton’s public parks offer visitors free access, making them ideal locations for a picnic or outdoor day.

Kiwanis Park, located at the west end of Madison Street near the Bitterroot River, is usually a popular option.

Along with vistas, this park has a lot of lush greenery to offer its visitors.

In addition to the nearby River Park and Trail, Kiwanis provides access to even more open space.

Both parks are known for wildlife observations, such as moose.

Go Cycling along Skalkaho Pass

Cliffside trail of Skalkaho Pass

Chad Hutchinson /

You may find some of Montana’s less-traveled mountain routes on this journey into the Sapphire Mountains.

The route was originally a popular Indian route.

An overpass was constructed in 1924 to connect the mountain mining settlements with those in the Bitterroot Valley.

Skalkaho Falls may be seen from this small, twisting road, which is also a great place to take in the scenery.

Skalkaho Pass is located 7,260 feet above the Pacific Ocean.

The 23,000-acre wildlife reserve is surrounded by extensive spruce and subalpine fir forests and pristine meadows.

Hunting is prohibited in the region.

You’ll see Steller and Gray jays, Brewer’s sparrow, dark-eyed juncos, olive-sided Flycatcher, and Hairy woodpeckers throughout the spring and summer.

Elk herds may be heard bugling in the upper basins early in the morning or late at night, mainly east of Kneaves and Fool Hen Lakes.

Cruise the Bitterroot Valley Scenic Drive

The Bitterroot Mountains are on the west, the Sapphire Mountains are on the east, and the Bitterroot River runs directly down the center of this valley.

You can find historic settlements (including the earliest white settlement in the state) and operating ranches on the vast grasslands that stretch out from the valley floor.

You’ll find yourself in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park along the route out of Glacier Country.

The Bitterroot Valley Scenic Drive is mainly served by Montana Highway 93.

The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is located south of Lolo and Florence in a scenic area (take the East Side Highway to Stevensville).

There is nesting osprey, and other animals can be seen here.

You can find the earliest permanent white colony in Montana, St. Mary’s Mission, and Fort Owen State Monument in Stevensville, so continue south on Highway 93 to Hamilton.

Sample the Drinks from Backroad Cider

From the most excellent orchards around comes Montana’s own cider.

Every aspect of Backroad Cider, from the fruit to the pressing process, is done by hand.

The apple boom started in 1907 and is still going on now.

The location between two mountain ranges and the flow of the Bitterroot River makes it excellent.

Whether you’re out on a hike, a kayak trip, or a fishing trip, don’t forget to stop by and sample its offerings.

It is located at an old railroad station at 98 Marcus Street in Hamilton, where Highway 93 and Main Street intersect.

Purchase Local Produce at the Hamilton Farmers Market Co-op

The Hamilton Farmers Market Co-op is situated in the magnificent Bitterroot Valley in Hamilton’s Bedford and Third Streets.

You’ll find the best Montana offers: Ravalli County’s fruit and non-GMO food cultivated in the state.

Locally farmed products, handcrafted goods, and delectable food are all available.

On a gorgeous leisurely Saturday morning, there’s nothing better than strolling around the few streets closed off and purchasing local fruit, bread, pies, honey, and other crafts.

It features over 100 merchants and great local music.

Several 100-year-old oak trees complement the comfortable seats and tables, creating an inviting atmosphere.

Enjoy Local Beer at Bitter Root Brewing

Bitter Root Brewing’s downtown Hamilton location is right in the middle of the Bitterroot Valley.

The atmosphere in its tasting room is non-smoking and fun every Thursday and Saturday night when it has live music.

Handcrafted ales and sodas are available in a wide variety at this establishment.

When feasible, it employs locally sourced and seasonal ingredients in its menu.

Most of its dishes are created from scratch.

They provide a wide variety of mouth-watering pub fare, including weekly and monthly specials.

You’ll find Bitter Root Brewing just east of Highway 93 at Main Street across the railroad lines, near the south end of the enormous grey structure with the red roof.

Chill with Your Friends at Westslope Distillery

As a family-owned business supporting the local community, Westslope Distillery uses only the highest-quality ingredients from Montana’s farms and fields to create its bourbons.

Its tasting room provides a relaxing atmosphere where you can chill with friends, try its spirits, and savor artisan cocktails.

When not busy concocting unique spirits and cocktails, Westslope Distillery explores Montana, allowing it to infuse its concoctions with its natural elements.

Grab a Good Read at Chapter One Book Store

There is a wide range of new books at Chapter One Book Store, as well as a used paperback exchange.

Friendly, passionate, and well-read staff members are glad to help you choose the perfect book for your needs.

Although its Children’s Book department is one of its most cherished, it has books in over 60 other categories.

This variety guarantees something for everyone here to enjoy.

It also sells new audiobooks and secondhand audio books on cassettes and CDs for half-price or by trade for people who like to listen to their books instead of reading them.

Chapter One Book Store’s activities include author appearances, children’s story time, and other downtown events.

Catch an Exhibit at the Ponderosa Art Gallery

A wide variety of well-known Montana and American artists are represented at the Ponderosa Art Gallery.

Wally and Judy Grewe have been operating this gallery for over three decades.

Artists from Montana and around the United States.

Exhibits range from wildlife to landscapes to Western to Native American to nautical to sporting and portraits.

Make it your go-to destination in Hamilton.

You’ll find something to suit your tastes with a wide range of pricing points and a wide selection of original artwork.

Visit the Ponderosa Art Gallery in the lovely Bitterroot Valley off Highway 93 in Montana.

Have a Retreat at ABC Acres

In the Bitterroot Valley of Western Montana, ABC Acres is a Permaculture Farmstead.

Hop in the adventure of cultivating and raising better food options while renewing the environment.

You can stay in The Guest House, constructed in 2014.

Four bedrooms, two and a half baths, a large living room/dining room area, and a well-stocked kitchen make up The Guest House interior.

There is a covered terrace with a dining table and lounge chairs outside for your comfort and viewing enjoyment.

You can pick seasonal strawberry patches off the North side, as well as a variety of culinary herbs, at your leisure.

When staying as a guest at the farm, you can watch ospreys fishing for trout in the waterway and farm staff running irrigation systems in the pastures.

Elk and deer graze the fields at dusk, as well as many other processes that go into designing and building a fully-functioning Permaculture system.

Experiences on the farm are what make staying at ABC Acres so special.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Unwind at Sleeping Child Hot Springs

Whether you’re looking to unwind with friends, family, or colleagues or plan a business retreat, wedding, or reunion, you’ll have exclusive use of this venue and may do so all year round.

The Sleeping Child Hot Springs is situated in the Rocky Mountains south of Missoula, Montana, and is accessible by car.

Private gated access to the Bitterroot National Forest surrounds this sprawling 40-acre residence at the height of 4,600 feet, six miles above sea level.

It is a nine-bedroom, 17-plus-bathroom resort that sleeps 20 people.

Final Thoughts

Thousands of acres of wooded public lands and towering mountains await you in the picturesque Bitterroot Valley when you take a trip to Hamilton, Montana.

Historic mansions and museums dot the city, where you can learn about the area’s colorful past as you stroll the streets.

The best things to do in Hamilton, Montana, are so gratifying that you will find yourself going back again and again.

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