A quiet cabin and outdoor adventures in Montana’s Seeley-Swan Valley

As Andy Aldeen strides across his Montana land, a can of bear spray stuffed in his again shorts pocket, you’d never ever guess the Midwestern-born hay farmer experienced spent 25 a long time doing the job in finance in Hong Kong and Tokyo. Now, his a few-technology spouse and children is rooted right here in the Swan Valley, haying and managing 3 VRBO units for site visitors craving clear mountain air much from towns.

small brown cabin with gabled roof

A homesteader cabin

That’s what brings my partner, pet dog and me below. With COVID-19 numbers mounting, we hesitated to plan forward. Then, we got blessed and snagged a very last-moment reservation for a socially distant getaway at what was explained as a pioneer homesteader cabin. So here we have been, briskly touring Aldeen’s land with his black lab, Sis, acting as hostess and leading our canine Rudy by way of bushes and brambles.

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The cabin has been extensively redone due to the fact a Norwegian fur trapper developed it in the early 1900s. He certainly didn’t have a sizzling water shower, a whole kitchen area and these kinds of a cozy bed. Aldeen decorates in what he phone calls “Victorian explorer” design and style, which indicates a enjoyable blend of cheery and unpredictable products, which include a crimson-and-white-checked table fabric on the kitchen desk downstairs, a cow-noticed plant stand and a sequined rainbow pillow on a daybed in the cabin’s attic library. Aldeen has scoured utilized bookstores all by means of the valley, furnishing his VRBO models with 1000’s of publications of all genres.

small cabin interior with sofa, stone wall and red bedroom

Very best of all was the large front porch strung with Xmas lights. You can sit on an straightforward chair with a watch of hay bales sitting in entrance of the Mission Mountains. In the early morning, you could listen to migrating sandhill cranes purring as they hunt for critters or see deer bounding by. Down the highway, the ranch’s horses congregate beneath their beloved shade tree.

With two bedrooms and a little, cozy residing area, the homesteader cabin is the mid-assortment choice among Aldeen’s VRBO models. The Lazy Bean is a 2,000-square-foot cabin that sleeps up to 8 and has the most considerable library. Then, there is a extra primitive, 300-sq.-foot cabin with twin bunk beds.

bales of hay with a small cabin in the distance

The Seeley-Swan Valley

The cabins sit in the Seeley-Swan Valley in northwestern Montana, on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complicated and just off of Freeway 83. This is regarded as one of Montana’s most scenic roadways and is a well-liked route to Glacier Nationwide Park. But it is also a destination in alone for people today looking for out of doors adventures.

Seeley and Swan are essentially two back again-to-again valleys. We were being in Swan, the northern of the two, around the small town of Condon. The Mission Variety of the Rocky Mountains towers to the west, the Swan Assortment to the east. This is an unusually soaked section of Montana, with significantly larger rainfall than most of the state, which accounts for the greenness and abundance of drinking water. Rivers, lakes, ponds and bogs still left by prolonged-back receding glaciers include about 16% of the Swan Basin — look at that to only 1% wetland habitat for the rest of the point out. This is the portion of the state to visit if you want to get in the h2o or if you like scenic hikes with stunning lake sights. With ordinary July and August highs in the mid-80s, the lakes and rivers get a lot of summertime use.

logs in a lake

“Be Bear Aware”

One of the factors I hadn’t recognized until finally I bought to Montana was how many bears phone it property. “Greatest focus in the Decrease 48,” Aldeen told me proudly while I shook in my hiking boots.

As we established out one particular morning for the Glacier Lake Trailhead, our route took us on a lengthy extend of gravel street. When we ultimately arrived at the parking large amount, I was relieved to see other autos. Wilderness is great, but often I gravitate toward security in quantities. Even now, there’s no ensure that the presence of human beings equals the absence of bears. Bears are major, and they go the place they want.

Symptoms at just about every trailhead exhort visitors to “Be Bear Knowledgeable.” As we followed the Glacier Lake Trail, I took the information and facts to coronary heart. Bear spray on front backpack strap, check out. Talking or singing in advance of turning blind corners, yep. The mountains were being magnificent, and the path was lined with huckleberries ripe for the selecting. I calm and relished it, as extended as I did not believe as well considerably about who else loves huckleberries.

paddleboard near lake

Paddler’s paradise

Bears swim, as well. But at the very least it’s simpler to see them coming more than open h2o. This element of Montana is an absolute aspiration if you like to kayak, paddleboard or swim. Highway 83 has symptoms for lakes just about every pair of miles. If you favor motors on your watercraft, a huge lake like Seeley will give you tons of place to check out. But if you prefer human-powered vessels, you can also discover a tranquil lake without having motor website traffic.

The most touristy lake we visited was Holland Lake. This 400-acre glacial lake is preferred for good reason, with its nicely-used campground, Swan Mountain sights and quick obtain to the Holland Falls trailhead. You can rent a canoe, kayak or SUP from the Holland Lake Lodge. My favourite thing about Holland Lake was the cordoned off swimming place. Some of the lakes we visited were great for paddling but mucky for swimming. Not Holland. You really don’t have to stress about putting your ft on the base and possessing them vanish underneath questionable slime.

Van Lake is much too compact to be of a lot desire for those with rapidly boats. A leisurely paddle all-around the perimeter took a lot less than hour, which include stops for wildlife viewing. From my SUP, I saw a bald eagle dive down and nab a fish off the line of somebody fishing from a rowboat. Looking at bald eagles swoop, fish and fly above your SUP, and loons swimming together with you, is a aspiration occur true for any wildlife-fanatic.

The most remote lake we frequented was Clearwater. It’s about a .7 mile walk from the highway. The trail is typically flat and would be quick an uncomplicated trip, if not for dragging an inflatable SUP. But it was value it, as it was the only time I have ever been the only watercraft on a lake, accompanied only by electrical blue damselflies.

September average significant temperatures for Seeley-Swan are in the 70s. There is still time to get your Montana lake fix in advance of the temperatures dip down and the snow begins falling, though that is one more journey full of nature’s beauty. So if you get the opportunity to escape to a remote Montana cabin, grab your bear spray and go.

Photos via Teresa Bergen / Inhabitat

Editor’s Observe: We suggest getting the utmost treatment to continue to keep all those close to you safe and sound if you opt for to vacation. You can uncover a lot more advice on journey precautions from the CDC and WHO.


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