Local remedies for cabin fever
June 24, 2021
There are numerous ways to get out and explore the area. Sanders County alone contains several subjects for excursion. There are not a lot of Montana activities that one cannot do in and around Sanders County.
First, the county is home to a large population of pilots who take small aircraft around the area’s over 6 million surrounding acres of national forest. Many of these pilots are more than willing to take people up and love being tour guides. Some will even fly a person into some of the remote landing strips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, east of Flathead Lake. There are small airports in almost every town, with the most popular two being in Thompson Falls and Plains.
It goes without mentioning the thousands of trails throughout the area that make for some of the most spectacular hiking in the world. Numerous treks of varying lengths, from expert to beginner, can be found within just an hour or less drive into the national forests. Many of these hikes lead into hidden high mountain lakes packed with trout.
Year-round fishing is available in the hundreds of creeks, waterways and rivers that run through the area. Ice fishing is also popular in the area during the winter. Though river access to the Clark Fork may be more limited than rivers in other parts of the state, there are still plenty of ways to get in and fish it. The Clark Fork, upriver from where it combines with the Flathead, has numerous access points, and is considered prime fishing territory. If one has the proper licensing to do so, fishing on the Flathead River in the tribal portion, east of Paradise, can be productive for pike and bass. This section is also spectacular to float.
Kayaking and tube floating stretches can be found up Thompson River, on the Bull River, down sections of the Clark Fork River (upstream of Plains and downstream of Thompson Falls) and down the Flathead. Motorboats are popular in the western part of the county on the Clark Fork, but boaters must be cautious of areas where the water is shallow, especially during certain times of the year.
Sanders County is also home to some of the best hunting and trapping opportunities in the state, though all closed in the summer. Elk, whitetail and mule deer, black bear, turkey, grouse and even mountain lion are popular game hunted in the area. Sanders County is home to a vibrant population of bighorn sheep and moose, each of which have draw-tags for which hunters must apply. With the vast expanse of wilderness, it can be easy to get lost in the beauty, but for the particularly adventurous, backcountry hunting for the trained can be extremely rewarding. This variety of flora and fauna also draw many wildlife photographers to the area.
There are several who enjoy ATVs and snowmobiling. With thousands of miles of trail open to motorized vehicles, traversing the Sanders County backcountry on these can be a breeze. There are several organized group rides throughout the year, especially in the summer. Backcountry and cross-country skiing are other popular winter sports that utilize many of the same trails in the area.
Both the Lolo and the Kootenai national forests are home to several decent rock climbing and rapelling points that will get even the most seasoned alpinist’s heart going.
Horseback riding, especially into the mountains, is another pastime enjoyed by many in the area. The Backcountry Horsemen is one group that tries to educate people about horsemanship and takes several trips a year out into the Sanders County backcountry.
Firearm sports are blossoming in the county, with a public range in almost every town. The two most popular of these are the Thompson Falls and Plains public ranges. The one in Plains is well kept and has an extremely active trap club, who manage the range. They host events there throughout the year, some of which draw competitors from all over the country. There is also an active gun club in Noxon.
There are dozens of community events throughout the year, especially in the summer. The Trout Creek Huckleberry Festival, the Project ASCENT Cornhole Festival, the numerous poker runs hosted by groups like the Cabinet Ridge Riders, the Sanders Sale-ing countywide yard sale event — happening this weekend — and the Sanders County Fair are just a few of the variety of events that happen throughout the summer.
It can be easy to stay outside in the great outdoors of Sanders County.