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Stevensville, Montana

Residents of historic Stevensville, Montana proudly welcome you to the place “where Montana began.”

Located in Ravalli County after renaissance man Father Anthony Ravalli, this beautiful town has seamlessly merged frontier life, the Jesuit faith, and Salish Indian culture.

What started as an experiment in the first permanent non-indigenous settlement of Montana became a thriving bridge between local communities.

At the request of the Salish tribe, Jesuit missionaries established St. Mary’s Mission in 1841, the first of many new accomplishments in the state. As a Jesuit priest, pharmacist, builder, and community guide, Fr. Ravalli set the tone for today’s tight-knit southwest Montana mountain town.

Read on for more information about where to hike, grab a beer at a local brewery, or learn more about this place of historic firsts.

Main Attractions

st. mary’s mission
Image: Jasperdo

Historic St. Mary’s Mission & Museum

A very obvious first stop for any traveler is this famous mission site nestled in the Bitterroot Valley.

Originally from Ferrara, Italy, Father Anthony Ravalli was recruited in November 1845 to build this Jesuit mission at the continuous request of the local Salish Indian tribe who had received a taste of Christianity.

Blending local native culture with Christianity, Fr. Ravalli established this mission out of the raw and wild potential of the area.

As a beloved priest, pharmacist, sculptor, machinist, and healer, Fr. Ravalli gained the trust of local indigenous natives – and his footsteps remain all over St. Mary’s Mission, including his handbuilt furniture.

Eventually standing as the Jesuit Rocky Mountain headquarters, this site now has a chapel, Fr. Ravalli’s residency and pharmacy, and a replica of a Salish encampment.

If you are only able to pass through beautiful Stevensville, this is the recommended place to turn the page back in time and learn the local history. Gift shop available!

Stevensville Historical Museum

This historical museum located on Main Street displays artifacts and documents of the first pioneer settlement in the area now known as Montana.

Open from May to September, the Stevensville Historical Museum hosts relevant Salish tribe artifacts, as well as recounting the arrival of the Jesuit Pierre DeSmet which led directly to Fr. Ravalli’s settlement in the area. There’s something for everyone, including replicas of a 19th-century kitchen and washroom.

If you have time, the Ravalli County Museum & Historical Society in neighboring Hamilton is also recommended. Then, head back to Stevensville for a beer at local favorite Blacksmith Brewing.

Recreation Activities

lee metcalf national wildlife refuge

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

A short 8-minute drive north lands you in the stunning 2,800-acred Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Like many wildlife spaces, this location was created in 1964  to provide habitats for migratory birds – but it is now home to beavers, porcupines, coyotes, and many more.

2.5 miles of hiking trails wind through this habitat, as well as provide a varied landscape for its wildlife and human visitors.

Whether you’re at the refuge for bird watching, hunting, or fishing, Lee Metcalf is the perfect place to appreciate the big, wide sky of Montana.

Once you’re done for the day, visit the tasting room of The Montana Distillery in beautiful downtown Stevensville.

Kootenai Creek Trailhead & Bass Creek Trail

Following the course of Kootenai Creek, this family-friendly canyon trail is well-loved for its picturesque turquoise waterfall, rocky path, and suspension bridge.

Kootenai Creek Trail is classified as moderate, so be sure to cool off with ice cream from the seasonal snack shop!

Just a bit further north, you’ll find Bass Creek Trail, a 15-mile trail for more advanced hikers. People rave about its scenic views, excellent maintenance, and opportunity for solitude.

Between these and other options (St. Mary’s Peak), you’re sure to find an adventure for the whole crew.

Accommodation

Stevensville has all the accommodations needed to rest your head for the night: hotels, b&bs, and – of course – campgrounds. Nestled in the Bitterroot Valley, you’re in for a treat wherever you sleep:

  • Stevensville Hotel – Right in the heart of downtown Stevensville – you can’t ask for a better location! Formerly a hospital, this hotel now features 7 comfortable rooms, elegant antiques, and delicate touches of home. Just one block from your new favorite Stevensville breweries, a deluxe continental breakfast is provided on-site.
  • Bitterroot River Bed & Breakfast – If you’re looking for a place to lay your feet after a long day of fishing or hiking, the Bitterroot River B&B is the perfect home for a night (or two!). With riverfront access, four guest bedrooms, mountain views, and a hot, filling breakfast, this location will get you on the right foot before your next Big Sky Country adventure. (Book the Bitterroot Room for a jetted tub experience, and look out for friendly farm animals in the morning!)
  • Charles Waters Campground – This campground northwest of Stevensville offers a more rustic experience than a hotel or bed & breakfast, but what’s Montana without some beautiful natural scenery? Offering 22 spacious campsites, Charles Waters Campground boasts pine forests, quiet trails, and the occasional elk. Don’t forget to dip your feet in Bass Creek!

If you are looking to stay in nearby Missoula for your visit to Stevensville, you can check out a full list of accommodations here.

Special Events

Like much of Montana, the Stevensville area comes alive in the spring and summer, whether it’s for marathons, music festivals, or events honoring the native Salish Indians.

If you come to town on a Saturday, be sure to check out the local farmer’s market, where you can interact with local farmers or purchase a handmade souvenir for the road.

  • April – MRBA Bluegrass Festival
  • April – Bitterroot Runoff Trail Runs
  • April – Run for the Trees
  • June – Bitterroot Day
  • December – Country Christmas Bazaar
  • Saturdays – Stevensville Harvest Valley Farmers Market

Activities Near Stevensville

activities near stevensville

Cities

Recreation Activities

  • Mary’s Peak (Stevensville, MT)
  • Alberton Gorge River (Missoula, MT)
  • Chief Looking Glass Fishing Access Site (Lolo, MT)
  • Garnet Backcountry Byway (Missoula, MT)
  • Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures (Missoula, MT)

City Parks & Pools

  • Father Ravalli Park
  • Lewis and Clark Park
  • Stevensville Skatepark
  • Stevensville City Pool

Local & Nearby Favorites

  • Heritage Market (A small taste of Amish Country!)
  • Blacksmith Brewing (Music every Wednesday and Saturday!)
  • Backroad Cider (Hamilton, MT)
  • Hidden Legend Winery (Victor, MT)

National and State Parks

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