The Montana Treehouse Retreat, near Whitefish, Montana, isn’t your childhood backyard treehouse. Its creators, Kati O’Toole and Darin Robison, didn’t want their guests to trade creature comforts for time spent in nature. Their cabin is “the best of both worlds,” O’Toole says. Sleeping four, with two spiral staircases, two full bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and a full kitchen, it’s the home base you’ll need after a long day of exploring the Montana wilderness.
Nestled within 7.5 acres of secluded forest, the retreat offers city amenities like bars, restaurants, and shopping within reach—it’s a five-minute trip to Columbia Falls or Whitefish, Montana. If you bring your mountain bike or trail running shoes, the Flathead Valley provides more than 42 miles of singletrack. In summer, the Whitefish Ski Resort metamorphoses into a downhill bike park. It’s also just 30 minutes away from hiking trails in Glacier National Park via the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a can’t-miss scenic drive with views of glaciers and waterfalls.
The largest trunk in the house’s architecture, incorporated into the spiral staircase at the entrance, isn’t native to the forest. It’s a lightning-struck Douglas fir from the front yard of Robison’s late grandmother’s house in Echo Lake, Montana. When his grandma passed, excavating and repurposing the dying tree was how Robison chose to honor her. In addition to the trunk, the cabin wraps around four living trees.
“He wanted the entrance to the treehouse to be something really magical,” O’Toole says. John Colliander, a friend of Robison’s and one of the craftsmen behind TreeWorks Log and Timber Construction, a cabin contracting company based in the area, bolted each tread of the spiral staircase.
Both artists—O’Toole writes songs and Robison is a painter, illustrator, and sculptor—put other custom touches on the treehouse. O’Toole handcrafted all the shelving and bedside tables from milled remnants of the cabin’s initial build. “Everything has a story and was made by a craftsman,” O’Toole says. “It’s a real work of art.”