9 Best Things to Do in Darby, Montana

Mark Barnett
Last Updated: February 2nd, 2024

Trying to find the best things to do in Darby? 

Well, look no further! Below, we have collated a list of the top 10 activities that this part of Montana has to offer travelers and tourists. 

This guide will give you a slice of the best activities that Darby has to offer to help you plan your next visit! 

In this article, we’ll take you through a range of different activities that include: 

  • Fly fishing services
  • Hiking locations
  • Skiing areas
  • The best local restaurants to eat at. 

We look forward to seeing you the next time you’re in town!

Best Things to Do in Darby, Montana

1. Bitterroot National Forest

bitterroot national forest
Image: Forest Service Northern Region

At a Glance

  • Location: 7 miles Southwest of Darby (Open in Google Maps)
  • Distance From City Center: 30 minutes by car (15 Miles)
  • Cost: Day passes are $5.00
  • Best Time of Day to Visit: Depends on the activity. 

Bitterroot National Forest is truy one of Montana’s scenic treasures!

Its balance of pristine wilderness and accessibility makes it well-suited for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. 

In total, Bitterroot National Forest spans an expansive 1.6 million acres, encompassing alpine, forested, and hunting areas. 

For hiking enthusiasts, Bitterroot National Forest includes a large network of beautiful trails. These all range in distance and technicality, providing options for both experienced and rookie hikers. 

Some of the top hiking trails in Bitterroot National Forest include: 

  • Blodgett Canyon Overlook Trail. This trail is roughly 2.8 miles long, takes around 1 hour and 20 mins to complete, and is well maintained. It features breathtaking views over Hamilton and Blodgett Canyon
  • Blodgett Canyon to Waterfall Trail. For those wanting a longer hike, this trail runs 4.5 miles from the Canyon Campground to Canyon Falls before heading back. This 9-mile out-and-back hike is popular among walkers and runners and takes around 3 hrs and 35 minutes to complete
  • Sweathouse Creek Trail. This 5.2-mile out-and-back trail takes you to the beautiful Sweathouse Falls. This track takes around 3 hours to complete.

Other popular activities in Bitterroot National Forest include camping, hunting, fly fishing, and birdwatching! 

2. Baker Lake Trail Head

baker lake
Image: Baker Lake

At a Glance

  • Location: 6.2 miles southwest of Darby (Open in Google Maps)
  • Distance From City Center: 26 minutes by car (14.3 miles)
  • Cost: Free!
  • Best Time of Day to Visit: Anytime during daylight hours
  • Duration of Activity: Around 1 hr (1.7 miles)

For those wanting a quiet wilderness hike away from the busy National Forest, the Baker Lake Trail Head is a great option. 

The trail winds its way through a pristine forested landscape before emerging on the breathtaking beauty of Baker Lake. 

Removed from any signs of civilization, Baker Lake offers an immediate calmness and sense of sanctity as soon as you arrive!

In the winter, the Baker Lake Trail Head is a great location for snowshoeing, and completing the trail will reward you with a beautiful frozen landscape. 

3. Bitterroot Fly Fishing with Bitterroot Fly Company

the best fly fishing in montana
Image: Latham Jenkins

At a Glance

  • Location: 108 N Main Street, Darby City Centre (Open in Google Maps)
  • Cost: $150 – $600 (depending on the size of the group)
  • Best Time of Day to Visit: After 9 am
  • Duration of Activity: Whole and half days available.

As any trout fishing enthusiast will know, Montana is one of the best places in the world for fly fishing – and Darby is no different!

With the well-stocked Bitterroot River running right next to the center of town, taking a fly fishing tour is a must-have experience in Darby. 

Guides will take you to world-renowned Fly Fishing rivers, including the Bitterroot, West Fork Bitterroot, East Fork Bitterroot, Blackfoot, Missouri, Clark Fork, and Madison!

For those wanting to learn Fly Fishing, Bitterroot Fly Company offers a number of lesson services. 

These range from lessons on casting, water-reading, and equipment fine-tuning, as well as those needed to become a professional Fly Fishing guide. 

4. Lake Como

lake como

At a Glance

  • Location: 5 miles West of Darby (Open in Google Maps)
  • Distance From City Center: 29 mins via car (11.2 Miles)
  • Cost: Free!
  • Best Time of Day to Visit: Anytime

Situated just 30 minutes from Darby’s City Centre is the stunning Lake Como. 

It has a beautiful swimming area, with secluded picnic areas along the lake’s northern shore. A paved walking path allows travelers to take in the scenic beauty of the lake! 

Lake Como’s small size makes it perfect for exploring with kayaks or paddle boards, while still offering beautiful secluded spots. 

It is a great spot for fishing enthusiasts, especially those who want somewhere that the whole family can enjoy while they catch dinner. 

5. Yellowstone Filming Location – Chief Joseph Ranch

Source: Chief Joseph Ranch

At a Glance

  • Location: 1.2 miles South of Darby (Open in Google Maps)
  • Distance From City Center: 6 mins by car (2.3 miles)
  • Cost: $1400/night for up to 4 guests, $50 for each additional guest

Fans of the Yellowstone TV Series may not be aware, but the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch is a real property located just 6 minutes south of Darby! 

The property doesn’t allow the public to stop and tour the ranch, but you can stay overnight in one of Lee Dutton’s cabins.

While the cost of renting one of these cabins makes it the most expensive activity on this list, for die-hard fans of the show, this offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Furthermore, it offers you a chance to experience America’s most iconic ranches, with expansive views over the Bitterroot River and Sapphire Mountains. 

6. Lost Trail Ski Area

the lost trail ski area

At a Glance

  • Location: 25 miles south of Darby (Open in Google Maps)
  • Distance From City Center: 37 minutes (31 miles)
  • Cost: Half-day pass from $58, season pass from $395
  • Duration of Activity: Open 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • Snow Season: November – February

For travelers wanting to experience fresh powder, the Lost Trail Ski Area is located just 37 minutes’ drive from central Darby. 

This area has some of the best skiing conditions in the area, with some of the best off-piste trails to boot!

Ski through beautiful forested areas, or tackle some of Lost Trail’s black diamond chutes and bowls.

Those who want to begin their ski journey will feel right at home on Bunny Hill, and the friendly instructors are ready to give lessons to riders of any level. Restaurants and cafés are just a short drive away in Darby, so you can even pop back into town for lunch!

7. Darby Pioneer Museum

pioneer memorial museum
Image: TownofDarby

At a Glance

  • Location: 101 E Tanner Ave, Darby City Center (Open in Google Maps)
  • Cost: Free!
  • Best Time of Day to Visit: 1 pm – 5 pm, open from June – September
  • Duration of Activity: 1 – 2 hours

Set in one of the first hand-hewn homestead cabins built in the area, the Darby Pioneers Memorial Museum offers a unique look into the early settler lifestyle of the area. 

It holds many home and business artifacts that were preserved by pioneer families in the area! These include early title deeds, church and school records, as well as original photos of the homestead.

It is a good idea to call ahead to check if it is open, as it is occasionally closed without warning. 

8. Montana Café

At a Glance

  • Location: 614 N Main Street, Darby City Center (Open in Google Maps)
  • Cuisine: Family-run American restaurant
  • Must Try Dishes: Blueberry pancakes, lodging scramble, monkey bread
  • Reservation: Not necessary
  • Price Range: $5.00 – $10.00 for a generous meal
  • Hours of Operation: 7 am – 2 pm

The Montana Café is one of Darby’s most beloved establishments. 

While other restaurants and diners in the general area have struggled, Montana Café’s place in the hearts of the community has allowed it to continue thriving even when times have been tough!

More than this, though, this family-run joint has gained notoriety beyond just Darby; customers have been known to travel from other states just to experience this wonderful cuisine.

If you’re looking for a classic, hearty American meal, then the Montana Café should be your go-to breakfast and lunch option.

Sample the renowned blueberry pancakes, and then get a world-famous hash stack for lunch!

9. Little Blue Joint

At a Glance

  • Location: 119 N Main St, Darby City Center (Open in Google Maps)
  • Cuisine: Pizza, burritos, burgers, and more
  • Must Try Dishes: Ruben sandwich, fish and chips, blue cheese and chicken salad
  • Reservation: First come, first served
  • Price Range: $5.00 – $35.00
  • Hours of Operation: 11 am – 8:30 pm

Tucked away between Sawmill Bar and Local Flair you’ll find one of Darby’s best dining options: Little Blue Joint. 

Don’t be fooled by its innocuous exterior; the locals know what this place has to offer! 

Ranging from affordable burritos to perfectly cooked steaks, Little Blue Joint’s family-owned kitchen provides food that is hard to beat. 

Conveniently located right in the center of the town, this family-friendly option is a great option for those looking to experience the culinary talent that Darby has to offer. 

Its easy-going feel lets you feel right at home all the while serving up mouth-watering food! 

We Look Forward to Seeing You in Darby, Montana!

While Darby is a tight-knit community, locals are always excited to see new faces in the area. 

Its history, wilderness areas, and local activities bring together people from all walks of life. 

We hope this list of the best things to do Darby will help you plan a great next trip to this beautiful part of Montana!

About The Author

Mark Barnett

Mark Philip is a writer and lifestyle enthusiast from the Midlands in the U.K. With a background in martial arts and fitness, Mark headed out to Bangkok, Thailand where he now lives and works. Mark has authored e-books, articles, and blogs across a wide range of topics for commercial, educational, factual, lifestyle and leisure-based purposes.

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