The community of Alberton is one of Montana’s former mining towns that sprang up in the highly scenic, north-western region of the state.
The two railroads and the river that helped shape Missoula also had a hand in the design of this area’s landscape following the Clark Fork River.
With the help of what is now the I-90 interstate highway that passes through Mineral County, the route heads west and finds the town of Alberton along the Idaho border, less than 30 minutes from Missoula.
The population of the incorporated Alberton community is not much over the 500 mark, but the town offers various amenities like dining, bars, casinos, and shopping.
As the small community is close to the Clark Fork River it is thus considered by many as something of a gateway to particular outdoor recreational options namely fishing and the white-water rafting found in the Alberton Gorge.
The deep canyon walls and wildlife, not to mention the rapids, have all helped to make the gorge one of the most popular and renowned white-water rafting destinations in the state for both the hardened enthusiast and interested novices.
Along with the historical aspects of the area, rafting and other recreation are the main reasons for the many visitors coming to the town every year.
The Top 3 Hotels in Alberton
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Main Cultural, Historic, and Outdoor Attractions in Alberton
There are a couple of historic houses in Alberton by way of Chadwick House and Wilson House. Both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States and stand as a testament to the beginnings of the town.
Even the imposing-looking, historic, three-story, brick Alberton High School is listed in the National Register. The school operated from 1919 to 1960 and was the only high school facility within miles of the railroad corridor around that time.
As Alberton was founded initially as something of a Railroad Town for the burgeoning transportation system, it comes as no surprise to find that there are two museums related to its historical past.
The museum’s house collections and exhibits of items perhaps most notably an original boxcar along with other artifacts, and information related to the history of the railroad and its impact on the development of the town and area.
The railroad forms such an integral part of the town’s historical past as it was the primary reason it was established. Rather appropriately, the former railroad headquarters have since been converted into the town’s City Hall.
Alberton is a town that also features some important transportation landmarks, especially by way of the Milwaukee Road Passenger Depot.
This is one of the two museums and contains another National Register-listed building purchased from the rail company by the town for the purpose of just such a project. The museums are non-profit and operate free of charge with the help of local volunteers.
Mineral County is a stretch of Montana very well-endowed with forested public lands, backcountry, and rivers & creeks to explore.
The area brings in its fair share of anglers, campers, photographers, and both wildlife enthusiasts and hunters. The water in and around Alberton attracts water lovers from around the region whether for fly-fishing or rafting on the Clark Fork River and the gorge.
Come early spring and Alberton Gorge becomes a hotbed of adventure and rapid water raft action. The water levels drop as temperatures rise and the individual rapids of the gorge begin to show themselves.
These runs have death-defying names such as Triple Bridges, Boat Eater, Tumbleweed, and Davy Jones’s Locker!
Montana’s premier white-water location, the Alberton Gorge is located along the Clark Fork River just over a ten-mile float located about 45 minutes from Missoula.
The gorge runs between the Cyr Fishing Access Site and the Tarkio one, ensconced within scenic and steep canyon walls. This stretch of the Clark Fork is where rafters can find class II and high-adrenaline class III white-water—ideal for both beginners and the more experienced adrenaline junkie.
The time of year for rafting tends to be around late June through early August. It is recommended to plan a half or full-day trip with a local river guide if possible.
This stretch of the Clark Fork runs through dense forest regions amidst some interesting geological formations with a few sandy beach rest areas along the way too! Be on the lookout for bald eagles and osprey.
The Clark Fork River is destination number one for many of the anglers heading to the regions of Alberton.
The entire length of the river in Montana roughly parallels the I-90, which provides frequent if not somewhat noisy access sites through some quite diverse river terrain.
Once the river starts to get close to the region of Missoula it has already become quite large and holds plentiful populations of trout.
The Lower Clark Fork has low to moderate fishing pressure, with some of the heaviest beings in and around Missoula.
Basically, the further downstream you go the less fishing pressure is found bearing in mind that the white-water stretches are pretty much off-limits not least of all due to the number of recreational floaters using the river somewhere between the Petty Creek and Tarkio Fishing Access Sites (FAS).
The River Edge RV Resort is on a scenic spot along Frontage Road in Alberton and is a 16-site facility, also with a motel and steakhouse to hand.
The campground offers full hook-ups, pull-thru, fire rings, tent camping, and various other amenities including laundry and Wi-Fi. Stays are limited to a maximum of 14 days.
Accommodation Hotels and Lodging
As you can probably imagine there isn’t much along the lines of developed hotel accommodation in Alberton you’d have to head more in the direction of the highly-populated Missoula to have the options you might be looking for staying in the region.
Special Events in Alberton
- July – Railroad Day – third Saturday of the month