They call Montana "The Last Best Place" for obvious reasons. It's preserved, wild, and secluded in comparison to other US destinations. Like most people, I've considered visiting Montana for the longest time, but it always lost to other domestic destinations because of convenience and proximity. I assumed it was beautiful, untouched, wild, and full of adventure, but I never got the opportunity to stake claim in the Big Sky Country...until now.
Bota Box, a like-minded and adventurous premium boxed wine, invited me to go on an adventure with them somewhere in the US. We chatted about a variety of locations, but decided that Montana was that place.
I have friends who live in Missoula, a city in Western Montana, and know people who have visited the Glacier National Park. So when it came to trip planning within Montana, I naturally searched for alternative destinations, and settled on exploring the Bitterroot-Selway, one of the largest designated wilderness areas in the United States spanning across Idaho and Montana.
So we packed our bags with the essentials: socks, toothbrush, bear spray, and a bunch of wine to share with our soon to be friends in Montana, and headed north for a three-day adventure into the backcountry. I honestly had no idea what to expect, so I was running off a bit of excitement during the seven-hour trip from Los Angeles.
After a quick nap and a Denver layover, we touched down at the Missoula Airport and opted to discover this region by compact rental car…my first and only mistake of the trip.
First Stop: Missoula, Montana
We dropped off our bags at the hotel, grabbed a box of Bota Box Cabernet Sauvignon, some recyclable cups, and headed for Brennan's Wave, a man made surf break along the Clark Fork River. Upon arrival I noticed Missoula has just the right balance to get an Angeleno like myself acclimated to Montana living. Bars, restaurants, and a river full of adventure, was just what I needed. Perfect!
After watching dudes hang ten, nine hours away from the nearest ocean wave, I headed into town to meet up with an old friend. I told him about my trip to the Bitterroot-Selway, and spent the evening catching up over the last 15 years. He found this bit of paradise after graduating high school and never turned back, and I don't blame him. Before saying our goodbyes, he urged us to check out some hot springs before venturing into the wilderness.
Second Stop: Jerry Johnson Hot Springs
This was pretty cool, or should I say hot...very hot. We started our adventure early the next morning and made our way, to Jerry Johnson Hot Springs. Let me tell you, I didn't expect the "hot springs" to be this hot, but of course they were, and definitely worth the 20-minute hike. Also unexpected were the nudie booties who showed up to greet us as we were preparing to leave. I guess clothing is optional in these parts of the woods. Moving on!
Third Stop: Darby Style
Darby, Montana is an access town to the Bitterroot-Selway Wilderness. What we thought was going to be a 30-minute drive to our campsite, slowly turned into three hours. If we had known this, or had read the directions our hosts at Storm Creek Outfitters had provided us, then we most likely wouldn't have taken the detour to the hot springs. Darby allowed us the opportunity to stock up on water, chips, and candy. All we needed was a little bit of sugar and grease to fuel us on our "short" ride to camp. Right?
Fourth Stop: Storm Creek Outfitters
After a long and dusty ride on unpaved back roads (which our rental car barely survived), we made it to our campsite where our gracious hosts were waiting by an inviting fire. Since there's no cell coverage in this part of the wilderness, they were patiently waiting for us – which reminded me of life before smart phones. When we arrived they had no doubt in their minds that we were ok and were just a little lost. No stress, no signals, all good!
That night we relaxed by the fire over a few glasses of Bota Box Nighthawk Black and talked to our hosts about the area, our lives back home and what brought us into the wilderness. I had a feeling this was going to be exactly what I pictured from Montana.
For more on this adventure, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of our journey below:
This post was sponsored by Bota Box. All thoughts and opinions are always my own.