Outside magazine, October 1994
On 80 acres beneath a vast, reef-shaped sandstone mountain, The Bungalow bed-and-breakfast appears to be a miniature, two-story version of Yellowstone National Park's Old Faithful Inn. Which is really no surprise, since it was designed by the same architect, Robert C. Reamer, in 1910. Lauded at the time by the Great Falls Tribune as the "finest country home in Montana," the cedar log home was built as a summer retreat for a wealthy Helena entrepreneur.
A 40-minute drive from Helena, The Bungalow sits at the end of a rutted dirt road off U.S. 287, four miles north of the town of Wolf Creek and just seven miles from the classic fishing waters of the Missouri River. The eight-mile stretch from Holter Dam to Craig is particularly fertile in late September and October, when it's not too much to expect a seven-pound rainbow trout to end up on your hook. A number of shops along the river can provide invaluable advice on selecting flies and locations; try Montana River Outfitters (406-235-4350) or Missouri River Trout Shop and Lodge (406-235-4474).
About 20 miles upstream from The Bungalow, the 28,562-acre Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area has nearly 50 miles of hiking trails. A good place to start is the nine-mile Refrigerator Canyon Trail, which taps into a network of trails that can provide anything from a quick afternoon jaunt to a four-day, 30-mile backcountry loop. For maps ($3) and more information, contact the Helena Ranger District at 406-449-5490.
Back at The Bungalow, guests can sink into big sofas before the large stone hearth and soak up the atmosphere. Navajo blankets in rich reds drape across the upstairs balcony, and signed Remington prints line the surrounding walls. The four guest rooms are furnished with pieces chosen by Chicago department-store magnate Marshall Field. A night at The Bungalow costs $65-$75 for a double and includes a gourmet breakfast. For reservations, call 406-235-4276.