Corvallis is located in an area of Montana known as the ‘Heart of the Bitterroot Valley’ between the impressive Bitterroot Mountains and the Sapphire Range south of Missoula, in Ravalli County.
The small town is just northeast of Hamilton, and is somewhat off the beaten track, sitting off the main eastside highway (269) along the winding Bitterroot River.
The land in this region is notoriously fertile and was actually one of the first settlements in the entire area. The name Corvallis—which also happens to be the name of a place in Oregon—was indeed named for that very town by some of the first settlers in the rich Montana valley who came from there.
It was when some of the first wagon trains were coming to the valley region in 1862 when a few people decided to stay on and settle there, and it was in fact a Frenchman who coined the name of the town in 1869 from ‘coeur’ and ‘vallee’—two French words meaning heart and valley–hence ‘valley of the heart’.
This is also when the first buildings appeared on the site of the intended settlement.
The community of Corvallis has a population of fewer than 1,000 residents and the town is perhaps best-known as being a gateway to the 1,200-acre Teller Wildlife Refuge.
As it stretches along 4 miles or so of one of the state’s prime trout-fishing rivers in the valley, not surprisingly Corvallis is an ideal spot for a range of outdoor recreation activities.
Main Cultural, Historic, and Outdoor Attractions in Corvallis
The town was one of the first settlements in the valley, yet there are still many historic buildings lining the streets today that give a taste of the flavor of those times.
The Memories Café, for instance, is located in what was the first Protestant Church in the area dating back to 1881. Also in a church—this time an 1894 Methodist affair—is the Bell Tower Quilt Shop, and there is a gift shop in the town that was formerly the old Victorian Brooks Hotel.
There is of course ample surrounding recreation near the town, but one place to start would be the One Palisade Mountain National Recreation Trail. To get to the trail you head along Willow Creek Road east into the Sapphire Mountains and the trail is great for hiking as well as a spot of backcountry fishing.
The Teller Wildlife Refuge is obviously one of the main attractions in the vicinity of the town, and it also happens to offer lodging—which otherwise can be quite sparse around these parts. The Teller is the location of an original construct known as the Old Chaffin Homestead and is a private wildlife refuge.
You can get involved in some fishing and hunting here, and wildlife like white-tailed deer, moose, red foxes, coyotes, porcupines, marmots, beaver, otters, muskrats, and many other smaller mammals enjoy the biodiversity of the terrain.
The waters of the refuge feature various spring creeks for fishing from and reportedly contain different varieties of trout.
The main purpose of the refuge and its 1,200 acres of farmland and river bottom is to conserve some of the finest native riparian habitats in the western Montana region.
The Willow Creek Trail to Saddle is a 3-mile out and back trail near Corvallis, Montana. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 4 hours to complete.
This trail is great for hiking, mountain biking, and nature and wildlife viewing, but it’s unlikely you’ll encounter too many other people while exploring.
The best times to use this trail are May through October. Dogs are welcome and may even be off-leash in some areas.
The Calf Creek Trail is a 4-mile out and back trail generally considered a moderately challenging route, and it takes an average of 2 hours for most hikers to complete.
This trail is great for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and again—typical of this region–it’s unlikely you’ll encounter too many other people while exploring.
Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash along this route.
The Calf Creek North Loop Trail is a 6-mile loop trail route generally considered moderately challenging.
It usually takes most hikers 3 hours or more and the trail is also used for other activities like horseback riding and trail running, although you are not that likely to run into too many other people along the way.
Fishing options are more than decent in this area with many anglers casting off from area creeks, or better still from the North Fork Bitterroot, which provides some of the best options for both local anglers and those passing through.
Miles of the Bitterroot River runs through the town, and this waterway is known as one of Montana’s premier trout rivers–good news for anyone in the area looking to cast off.
Gold Creek Campground is a small, 4-site forest campground near Corvallis. The sites are in the middle of some plentiful outdoor recreation options. The campground is open year-round and has toilets.
Accommodation–Hotels and Lodging
There is one bed and breakfast Heavenly View (59828-9309) as well as lodging at the Teller Wildlife Refuge. There is always a Ranch Cabin in the Sapphire Mountains.
Visitors would be advised to try the much larger range of options of accommodations in nearby Hamilton, or Havre.
Special Events in Corvallis
You can find out about local activities and events in Corvallis HERE, and annual festivals in the Bitterroot Valley HERE.
- Labor Day Weekend—Ravalli County Fair—an annual event more than 100 years old now featuring entertainment, exhibits, food, and much more
Activities and other Points of Interest near Corvallis
Forests/State/National Parks/Wilderness Areas
- Bitterroot National Forest
- Lolo National Forest
- Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge
- Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
- Stevensville, MT
- Victor, MT
- Hamilton, MT
- Florence, MT
- Philipsburg, MT
- Clinton, MT
- Lolo, MT
- Salmon, ID
- Sula, MT