For those in the know, the West Fork of the Bitterroot River flowing from the tailwater of Painted Rocks Reservoir, is a floatable trout fishing stream of epic qualities. Cold, clear water rushes from the base of the dam and feeds over 20 miles of riffles, pools and deep pocket water stashed behind giant granite boulders. The West Fork Fishing Retreat owns around one-half mile of both sides of this legendary fishery. Accessed directly from the West Fork Road, the 151± acres is surrounded by United States Forest Service on seven of its eight boundaries. A primary residence and guest quarters are uniquely located directly on the banks of the West Fork in a grandfathered location no longer permitted due to land use restrictions. The sight and sound of rushing water just feet from the ample streamside decks will make any heart sing, while multiple additional prime building sites are scattered through the property. Downhill skiing is a short drive away at Lost Trail Powder Mountain and hundreds of miles of Forest Service roads serve an endless bordering backcountry. With world-class elk and deer hunting, blue ribbon quality water populated by large native cutthroat trout and a private, commercial-grade bridge over the river, this is a rare ownership opportunity in western Montana.
• 151± acres
• Main home plus guest quarters
• Grandfathered bankside location
• United States Forest Service boundaries on seven of eight sides
• Legendary fly fishing for large native trout
• World-class elk and deer hunting
• Private bridge built to handle fully loaded log trucks
The property is accessed from the West Fork Road (Highway 473) approximately 15 miles from Darby, Montana. Once across a narrow strip of intervening private land on a deeded right-of-way, you enter the property on a private dirt road. From the pavement to the riverside home is perhaps no more than 150 yards. Once inside the boundary of the property, the access road drops slightly and the all of the residential improvements are immediately encountered to the left. The home sits immediately bankside in a slightly elevated position that provides a sweeping view of a braided section of the West Fork, complete with its own well-established island laying entirely within the property boundaries.
While Ravalli County has no stream setback requirements as of early 2019, the unique position of this bankside home ensures grandfathered treatment, should there be changes in future land use policy.
The main home is accessed from a short circular drive and immediately to its west are the additional guest quarters. Further west and away from the bankside location, there is a large Quonset hut for equipment storage, shop needs or whatever else may be desirable in an enclosed structure. Leaving the area around the residential facilities and the Quonset hut, the private access road continues southward, crossing the West Fork on a commercial rated 50-ton steel and concrete bridge. Once on the far side of the bridge, the road curves back east and skirts the edge of a large, flat timbered bench that sits well-above the established floodplain, which is very narrow throughout the property.
About halfway across the bench, the road hairpins and begins a steady ascent through a series of switchbacks up a private set of logging roads, eventually hitting its apex at around 5,000 feet above sea level and about 800 vertical feet above the riverbed. From this location, tens of thousands of acres of adjacent United States Forest Service ground is immediately accessible.
The river flows for approximately one-half mile through the property, encompassing two well-established braids and an island in the area in front of the residential structures. Upstream from this point, the river contains some nice riffles, deep holes and an enticing 90-degree bend before exiting the property along its western boundary.
The West Fork Fishing Retreat is an outstanding fly fishing property offering excellent year-round wade fishing, seasonal float fishing and your own private put-in/take-out. With excellent public land access, robust wildlife populations and located within 90 minutes of the thriving college town of Missoula and its commercial air service, this is truly unique ownership opportunity that has not been available to market for nearly 60 years.