Inns and Lodges: Potosi Hot Springs Resort

Fishing, biking, horseback riding, and soaking, Montana style

Sep 1, 2001
Outside Magazine

Sweet seclusion: a creekside cabin.

Secluded at 6,200 feet on the northeastern flank of Montana's Tobacco Root Mountains, Potosi eludes most land-of-big-sky locals—to say nothing of tourists. Perhaps that's why the white-tailed deer gave us such curious "Who are you?" looks as we rumbled up the seven-mile dirt road from the one-bar town of Pony, an hour west of Bozeman. But the two-story main lodge and four creekside cabins we came upon—all blond-timbered and rough-hewn, fitted with woodstoves and overstuffed, cowboy-chic furnishings—signaled that this is no ordinary middle of nowhere.

The resort's twenty-something owners, Nick Kern and Christine Stark, live in the main lodge, where they also whip up organic meals. They normally serve breakfast and dinner in the large and open dining room, with its views of the fir-lined valley and the occasional moose, but we opted to have our elk tenderloin supper alfresco on the front porch of our cabin. A nearby tepee serves as a makeshift spa, offering massages ($90 an hour) and algae and mud wraps. BYO sage and crystals.
My fly-fishing foray in tumbling pocket water on South Willow Creek was surprisingly productive. On the first run alone, I landed seven vibrantly colored rainbows, browns, and cutthroat. Can you say "honey hole"? A short walk uphill from the lodge, the first of Potosi's hot springs—this one actually a warm spring, at 93 degrees—gather in a pool built in 1892. Another hundred yards up the trail, enclosed in a Hobbit-inspired gazebo, a true hot spring bubbles at 103 degrees. Eight additional springs have been found on the 75-acre property, and several are being developed for soaking.

The legendary fly-fishing rivers of southwestern Montana—the Madison, Gallatin, Missouri, and Jefferson Rivers—are all within 50 miles of Potosi, but why stray when the 6,000-square-mile Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest abuts the property? Hike, mountain bike, and horseback ride on hundreds of miles of old mining roads and singletrack, or go with Nick and Christine on half- or full-day horse or pedal rides ($70-$125) and fishing trips. Come fall, when the aspen leaves turn to golden coins, earn your turns and hike the surrounding 10,000-foot peaks that transform Potosi into a skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing playground.

Each cabin holds six people and rents for $300 per night, double occupancy (plus $100 per night for each additional guest), with a three-night minimum, July-September. The rest of the year, prices are $200 per night, double occupancy (plus $75 a night per additional guest). Meals are $75 per person per day. Contact Potosi Hot Springs Resort, 888-685-1695;

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