The Mountains of Dillon are Calling

Maverick Mountain (photo from the Montana Standard)

In the heart of the expansive Beaverhead Valley, Dillon is an outdoor-er’s paradise, and not just because it is home to Montana’s only Patagonia Outlet Store. Dillon is primarily know as a hot spot for fisherpeople, but it is equally active in the winter, when the cold weather and heavy snow open up new possibilities.

With nearly 200 miles of groomed trails, Dillon is a haven for snowmobilers. Head north, or west, and you’ll find¬†yourself in Wisdom and Jackson, head south, and you’ll end up connecting to the snowmobile tracks around Salmon, Idaho. The trails have uncountable options to cruise through National Forest, and explore ghost towns.

Maverick Mountain (photo from

Your most classic course of action is, of course, to hit the slopes of Maverick Mountain. Maverick doesn’t get quite¬†the press of some of Montana’s other ski areas, but with 2,000 feet of mountain in the heart of the Pioneer Wilderness, Maverick offers plenty of room to explore, spectacular views, and unparalleled skiing.

Of all the winter activities, I sometimes think that ice-fishing is the least intuitive. And yet, there is something indefinably enchanting about sitting in the middle of a frozen lake, waiting for the fish to bite. The best kind of fishing is the kind where actually catching fish is just a bonus. You also need to be somewhere remarkable, somewhere dramatic, somewhere with scenery worth the wait, and in all of these, Clark Canyon Reservoir does not disappoint. It is easy to see why it is a perennial favorite.

I may have saved the best for last. True, these are all classic winter pursuits, but I think the most quintessential winter pursuit may well be ice skating. And where better to glide over the ice than in one of Montana’s most picturesque ghost towns? Open from December to March (as long as the weather cooperates), the Bannack ice skating pond makes for a simply delightful outing, topped off by warm drinks in the warming hut.