The Sportsman Motel is located in the heart of the Big Hole Valley.
The Fishing is right outside on the Big Hole River There’s world-class fly fishing on The Big Hole River for rainbow, brown, cutthroat and grayling. Our section of the river is floatable most of the season, with wading most successful in late July, August, September and early October. The Beaverhead, Ruby and Jefferson Rivers – all famous for blue-ribbon trout fishing – are within an easy drive of Melrose.
We manage two properties on the banks of the Big Hole River. Caddis House and the Salmon Fly House are located just outside of town. The unique and beautiful homes are available to rent. You can float fish or wade from there.
There are over 30 lakes in the area, plus beaver ponds and mountain streams. You can get to some fishing spots directly from a road; others will take some hiking. You’re not likely to see another fisherman, but you may see a moose or bald eagle.
The Forest Service has a Lake and Fish Directory under “Fishing” on their website. Check them out at the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest fishing website. You will find information on the lake – location, depth, size – and a list of the types of fish just waiting to be caught.
Fishing licenses, flies, equipment and shuttles are available at either fly shop in town: Headwaters Fly Shop @ 406-835-2621 and Sunrise Fly Shop @ 406-835-3474. Expert guides are available in Melrose and throughout the area.
The Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest is ten minutes from the motel and trophy-class elk, mule deer and whitetail are definitely out there. You’ll also find black bear, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. There is a very huntable antelope population with some nice bucks on nearby state land and BLM land. Altitude ranges from 5,000 to 9,000 feet … pretty mild for a Rocky Mountain hunt.
If game bird hunting is more your style, we have strong sage, sharp-tailed and mountain grouse populations. The waters of the area attract migratory ducks and geese on the overlapping edges of both the Central and Pacific Flyways.
Plan A Hunt
For the details, visit the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ website. Their Interactive Hunt Planner lets you choose a species and get all the regulations that apply. The site has hunting district, topo and land-ownership maps, plus population and harvest statistics. Start at Montana Fish, Wildlike & Parks under Hunting, then click Planning a Hunt and then the Interactive Hunt Planner icon.
We really are a motel for sportsmen – your hunting dogs are welcome and we’ve got gun-racks in the rooms and skinning gambrels in the side yard. We’ll update you on local conditions when you get here.
There’s still gold in them thar hills. A 27.5 ounce gold nugget was found north of town in 1989, and flakes of gold shimmer in the stream bottoms. You can pan on public land or with permission of local landowners.
It’s an easy day trip from Melrose to Crystal Park, a public mining claim where you just might dig up a 6″ purple quartz crystal. Other mineral treasures to be found in the area include smoky quartz, amethyst, agates and sapphire.
There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, which make for an endless number of choices of distance and difficulty.
A local favorite is the Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area, located about 12 miles north of town. It’s an easy day hike of eight miles round trip into a unique primitive area. The trail has a few steep upgrades, but they’re short ones. For your effort, you’ll be rewarded with an up-close view of the huge granite pillars for which the area was named, a forest of genuinely primeval Douglas fir, and a neat little trout stream.
A section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is a 20-minute drive from the motel. Along with the built-in satisfaction that comes from hiking the Divide, it has some great scenery and wildlife-viewing opportunities.
See the Hiking section for the Humbug Spires, where there’s climbing in just about every grade. “The Wedge”, which stands at the head of the valley, is an alpine rock experience with mostly crack climbing. Two other formations in the area – Dragon’s Back and Homestake Pass – are also popular with climbers. Some of the nicest climbs are only a quarter mile hike from your car.
If you enjoy the back country best on wheels, there are miles of mining and logging roads in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest and nearby state lands.
These roads pass by and through countless old mining claims and provide access to viewing gorgeous scenery and amazing wildlife!
Bike and four-wheeler rental is available in Butte.
A real attraction for the serious golfer is the Old Works Course, recently opened in Anaconda. It was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is already gaining a reputation for excellent golf. All three are within a half-hour’s drive. You can play in the “Big City” during the day and come home to the country for a peaceful night’s sleep.
There’s a pretty fair 9-hole course in Butte, Highland Veiw Golf Course. Plus a resort west of Butte with an 18-hole course, Butte Country Club.
Dillon also has two 9-hole golf courses: Beaverhead Golf Course and Sleepy Hollow.
Check out Southwest Montana for more golfing options in the area.
Canyon Creek Charcoal Kilns (in the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge National Forest):
A pretty drive up dirt roads will take you to the “Beehives”, kilns built in the 1870’s to produce charcoal for the silver and lead smelters. The architecture of these huge beehive-shaped kilns is fascinating.
Farlin (also in the National Forest):
A few buildings still remain from the 500-member mining community of Farlin, Montana, which once spread along the hills of Birch Creek. There’s a school and the butcher’s shop, as well as the smelter and some original mining equipment. A walk through nearby hills will reveal abandoned miner’s cabins, as well as a few active claims. It’s a neat outing, complimented by Birch Creek itself, a typically photogenic Montana stream.
Lewis and Clark
The Lewis and Clark Expedition cut through Montana in 1803-1806. There are several trail access points in the area, plus lots of local events celebrating their exploration.
Hell Roaring’ Gulch
The whole family will enjoy a stroll through the Gulch. Located just outside of Butte, this recreated 1890’s mining town is equipped with an array of period articles that will grab any antique collector’s attention. Buildings include the Chinese laundry, sauerkraut factory, funeral parlor and ice house, plus the school, general store and saloon. While you’re there, visit the World Museum of Mining and Orphan Girl Mine right next-door.
Bannack State Park
Bannack is one of the best preserved ghost towns in the west. Walk the boardwalks of the original territorial capital of Bannack – which stands empty but intact – and get the scoop on 1800’s politics at the accompanying Interpretation Center.
And Much More…
Want to find out the truth about the hanging of Sheriff Plummer by the group of solid citizens call The Vigilantes? Both the Dillon and Virginia City Museums have the answers. Take a tour of the special museums in Butte, from the Piccadilly Museum of Transportation Memorabilia to the Copper King Mansion.
For Additional information: Southwest Montana