Bordering National Forest Land, a Private Retreat on 80 Acres

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Downing Mountain Lodge, barbecue deck, and the Bitterroot Valley looking south.


Last updated: 11/24/2015
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  • Minimum stay:1-2 nights
  • Internet:Yes
  • Pets considered:Yes
  • Wheel chair accessible:Yes

Property description

Why stay at Downing Mountain Lodge? We are the most private location in the Bitterroot Mountains and home to the best views of the Bitterroot Valley, long considered an overlooked gem of the Northern Rocky Mountains due to its lack of having a National Park. Next you might ask when to visit. An often overlooked time is May and June when the skies are clear, the weather pleasant, the wildflowers blooming around the lodge, and there is little chance of forest fire smoke. Our most popular seasons are from June through October for summertime and fall vacationing and excursions and then January through April for backcountry skiing.
Delivering in house excursions and able to connect you with many others, we offer a guide service or information on flyfishing trips and instruction, rafting trips both scenic and whitewater, hikes to high mountain lakes and peaks, rock climbing adventures, mountain biking trips, horse riding trips, power boat and sailing trips to Flathead Lake, wildlife and photographic safaris, and catered dinners. Visits to Downing Mountain Lodge are usually arranged including excursions. Come share an adventure with us in Western Montana.
On the mountain, close to town, near the rivers, and within an hour of a multitude of trailheads, the Downing Mountain Lodge is a three bedroom, two bathroom log chalet built in the round with sixteen sides. The cozy home has all the amenities and is hands down the most private and amazing location on 80 acres of open forest land and wildflower fields adjacent to the Bitterroot National Forest. Located near hiking, fishing, boating, skiing, biking, climbing, and at the end of a private mountain road, the lodge is as private as you can get while still being close to town. With panoramic vistas out of all windows from South, East to North, the mountain house is located two thousand feet above the Bitterroot Valley with amazing Mountain and Valley views and during May and June, the lands are covered in wildflowers. We are only a fifteen minute drive to the Bitterroot River and Hamilton, the Bitterroot Valley's largest town with plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
A massive central fireplace supports the log rafters and provides the authentic ambiance of a mountain lodge living room. The master bedroom faces east and catches the sunrise. With a queen bed and twin over full bunkbed, this room can accommodate up to five. The second bedroom contains another double bed and can accommodate up to two guests. The third bedroom contains a twin over twin bunkbed as well as a twin over double bunkbed in addition to a single bed and can accommodate up to six guests and is perfect for the kids or grandkids. There is also a pull out Queen couch in the living room and a child's crib. The lodge is a single story allowing handicap and elderly access to the entire lodge and entryway deck.
The two bathrooms are newly remodeled. There is a vanity entryway to the bathrooms with two sinks. There is a shower bath and two toilets. The living room has three couches by the fireplace, a piano, a guitar, a large dining table for up to twelve people, and a few smaller tables, a foosball table, a board games table, and a woodstove.
The kitchen is a full commercial setup with a gas range, four burner top and two ovens, a separate griddle top, and a charbroiler grill with a large venting hood. A double commercial sink, commercial dishwasher, and a freezer over fridge rounds out the essentials with plenty of room and tables for prep work and a sitting table for six. With plenty of tableware, silverware, and kitchen appliances including a toaster, microwave, crock pots and mixer, our guests or caterer is setup to prepare the most audacious of feasts. An access door to the outside and the hot tub deck is located in the west wall of the kitchen which is in the southwest quadrant of the building.
Outside, via the kitchen access, is a wood stove sauna and on the south deck is a 6 person hot tub. On the front lawn is another 5 person hot tub. On the spacious east deck is a large charcoal or wood fired barbecue with a picnic table. In the covered entryway there is room to park one car, a love seat swing adjacent to a small lawn. Up the mountain behind the lodge is a dirt road leading to the northwest and a spring creek, a ridge and the trail to Downing Mountain and the high mountain tarns 2,000 feet above, and to the south after a short climb a descending old two track roadway to Owings Creek where it springs from the Earth.

The Downing Mountain Lodge is located on 80 acres of open forested land and borders thousands of acres of National Forest land to the west. With two spring creeks within easy walking distance and private trails and two tracks roads leading up and down the mountain, private paradise is how its often aptly described. There are elk, deer, moose, black bear, mountain lion, wolf, marten, mountain goats, and a variety of birdlife with grouse often roosting in the trees surrounding the lodge.

Please visit our unique website at downing mountain lodge dot com.


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Property Type

  • Chalet
  • 2200 sq. ft.

Accommodation Type

  • Vacation Rental


  • Catering Available
  • Breakfast - Booking Possible
  • Lunch - Booking Possible
  • Dinner - Booking Possible

Onsite Services

  • Housekeeper Optional
  • Car Available
  • Chauffeur
  • Concierge
  • Massage
  • Private Chef
  • Staff


  • Events Allowed
  • Long-Term Renters Welcome
  • Alternative Lifestyle
  • Children Welcome:

    Families welcomed and encouraged. Some steep terrain and stairs outside. Spiral staircase to loft inside. Fireplace and woodstove hazards....moreless

  • Non Smoking Only:

    Outdoor smokers welcome on porches and swing, please be careful with any open flames especially during forest fire hazard season. Dispose of butts properly please....moreless

  • Pets Considered:

    Additional fee for pets. Please never leave unattended in lodge; and owners are responsible for cleanup....moreless

  • Wheelchair Accessible:

    One small step at entrance with heavy door as well would require attendant for the elderly or unfit...moreless

Bedrooms: 3 Bedrooms, Sleeps 12, Beds for 9-12

  • Master: 1 queen, 1 bunk bed

    Faces Southeast, views of the Bitterroot Valley. T.v./dvd...moreless

  • Sleeping Child: 1 double

    Faces south with views of the Valley...moreless

  • Owings Creek: 1 twin/ single, 2 bunk bed

    Faces southwest and views of Downing Mountain ...moreless

  • Convertible bed(s): 2 sleep sofa /futon

    One pullout sleep couch and large couch in living room...moreless

  • Queen size Beds (1) One queen bed in Master bedroom with excellent new mattress, Sleep Sofa or Futons (1) One queen sized sofa bed, Bunk Beds (4) Four bunkbeds; three twin over double and one twin over twin, all with good new mattresses...moreless

Bathrooms: 2 Bathrooms

  • Outdoor shower: outdoor shower

    outdoor shower on deck adjacent to sauna...moreless

  • Bathroom 2: toilet, combination tub/shower


  • Bathroom 1: toilet, combination tub/shower


  • Two bathrooms and two vanity sinks in an entryway. Outside shower on the way to the south deck....moreless

Other Amenities

  • With two small year round creeks to hike to within ten minutes, access to the Bitterroot National Forest, and game trails to the high peaks and tarns of Downing Mountain and Barley Lake outdoor enthusiasts have loved the lodge location and offerings. There is lots of wildlife in the area. Private trails and rock outcroppings and a local rock climbing site grace the property and forest service lands. Fit mountain bikers will enjoy biking the loop road, and in the winter we play host to the best lodge accessible backcountry skiing in Montana. The nearest neighboring home is three miles away ensuring you complete privacy. Your hosts are always available for adventure, recreation and cultural consulting, catering your family or small group up to twelve people, and we can rent canoes, paddles and PFDs for fun on Lake Como or the Bitterroot River and a few bikes of various sizes as well. We can deliver these goods as well as on our promises and ensure you a high quality stay in the Bitteroot...moreless


  • Books:

    books and magazines available...moreless

  • DVD Player
  • Foosball
  • Games:

    many board games and some puzzles...moreless

  • Music Library:

    50 dvds onsite...moreless

  • Stereo:

    ipod jack compatible, small radio cd players...moreless

  • Television:

    t.v. and dvd player in Master bedroom...moreless


  • Adventure
  • Away From It All
  • Family
  • Historic
  • Romantic
  • Sports & Activities
  • Tourist Attractions


  • Churches
  • Cinemas
  • Health/Beauty Spa
  • Library
  • Live Theater
  • Playground
  • Recreation Center
  • Restaurants

Local Services & Businesses

  • ATM/Bank
  • Fitness Center
  • Groceries
  • Hospital
  • Laundromat
  • Massage Therapist
  • Medical Services

Leisure Activities

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Eco Tourism
  • Photography
  • Scenic Drives
  • Shopping
  • Sight Seeing
  • Sledding
  • Walking
  • Wildlife Viewing

Location Type

  • Mountain View:

    With views north and west to the adjacent Bitterroot Mountains and across the valley to the Sapphire Range, the Downing Mountain Lodge rests two thousand feet above the beautiful Bitterroot Valley....moreless

  • Rural:

    Located at the end of a three mile mountain road with incredible privacy and views of the Bitterroot Valley and Mountains....moreless

  • Ski-In:

    In winter the lodge is accessed via the snow covered road for a mile and a half ski in over seven hundred vertical feet from the parking area at switchback eleven along the Grubstake Road....moreless

  • Ski-Out:

    From the lodge, vast backcountry terrain awaits the skier to the west and north with runs from five hundred to three thousand vertical off the Downing Mountain ridgeline....moreless

Sports & Adventure Activities

  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Fly Fishing
  • Freshwater Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Mountaineering
  • Rafting
  • Rock Climbing
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Whitewater Rafting


  • Child's Highchair
  • Dining:

    Dining area faces east with views of the Bitterroot Valley, direct lighting by pendant and adjacent to fireplace and piano...moreless

  • Dining Area
  • Seating for 15 people


  • Covered Parking:


  • Fireplace:

    grand rock fireplace centrally located...moreless

  • Hair Dryer
  • Heating:

    Propane forced air heater...moreless

  • Internet
  • Iron & Board
  • Linens Provided
  • Living Room:

    large open living room area with views of the Bitterroot Valley and Sapphire Mountains...moreless

  • Mobile Phone:

    Cell phone coverage excellent...moreless

  • Parking:

    large parking area ...moreless

  • Parking Off Street
  • Parking For RV/Boat/Trailer:

    large outside parking lot; mountain road access...moreless

  • Towels Provided
  • Wireless Internet:

    High speed wireless always available...moreless

  • Wood Fireplace:

    central fireplace with stone bench and a woodstove...moreless

  • Wood Stove


  • Catering Available:

    Many menu choices available, from local meats and fresh farmer's market vegetables when in season, to vegetarian and gluten free. You decide, we provide....moreless

  • Coffee Maker
  • Cooking Utensils:

    All you might need and maybe more...moreless

  • Dishes & Utensils
  • Dishwasher:

    Commercial dishwasher...moreless

  • Kitchen:

    Full Commercial grade kitchen...moreless

  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Refrigerator
  • Stove
  • Toaster


  • Bicycles:

    Available for rent...moreless

  • Boat:

    We offer boat trips to local waterways either by motorboat, raft or canoe depending on guests preference. The Bitterroot River is close as is Lake Como. Flathead Lake is north 100 miles...moreless

  • Deck / Patio:

    (2) Two decks one on east side of lodge and one on the south, both overlooking the Bitterroot Valley and Downing Mountain....moreless

  • Golf:

    20 minutes away in Hamilton...moreless

  • Kayak / Canoe:

    available for rent...moreless

  • Lawn / Garden:

    A small lawn with shade trees, picnic table and bacci ball set...moreless

  • Outdoor Grill:

    Large barbecue grill on big eastern deck...moreless

  • Ski & Snowboard:

    Backcountry ski lodge with guided service available....moreless

  • Tennis:

    20 minutes away in Hamilton...moreless

Pool / Spa

  • Hot Tub:

    two separate 6 person outdoor hot tubs, one on south deck and one on north lawn...moreless

House Cleaning

  • Housekeeper Optional


Write a review 4.8
from 20 traveler reviews
Rental basis: Per property
Dates Nightly Weekend Night Weekly Monthly * Event
Backcountry Ski Season
Dec 18 - Apr 11, 2016
2 night min stay
$520 $600
Fri, Sat, Sun

Rates are based on 8 guests; add $75 per night, per additional guest

My Standard Rate
1 night min stay
$290 $325
Fri, Sat, Sun

Rates are based on 4 guests; add $50 per night, per additional guest

Additional information about rental rates


  • Cleaning fee $125
  • Refundable Damage Deposit $250
  • Pet Fee $30
  • Special Event fee $150
  • Tax Rate 7%


Rates are seasonal and may change. We host weddings. We take special considerations, last minute deals, and prices are negotiable depending on individual circumstances and group size or events. We offer additional services: shuttles, grocery shopping, adventure and travel consulting, fishing trips, hiking trips, whitewater rafting trips, rock climbing trips, and mountain biking and hiking trips.

A 50% deposit by credit card is requested to confirm any booking. Full payment is required in advance of stay. We do accept checks and cash and credit cards by phone. 406-531-1486

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Last updated: 11/24/2015
Check availability
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21 Unavailable
22 Today
23 Selected dates


50 Miles
Nearest Airport
Missoula International Airport
10 Miles
Nearest Barpub
13 Miles
Nearest Golf
Hamilton Golf Course
160 Miles
Nearest Train
Whitefish Montana Amtrak
10 Miles
Nearest Motorway
Highway 93
10 Miles
Nearest Restaurant
Nearest Ski
Downing Mountain Lodge/ Lost Trail Powder Mtn
15 Miles
Nearest Beach
Lake Como

Car: Necessary

Downing Mountain Lodge is privately located eight miles west of Hamilton, Montana at the end of a gated road that ascends three miles and 2,000 feet above the Bitterroot Valley. With Hamilton and the Bitterroot Valley a short fifteen minute drive away, our remote mountainside location appeals to solitude seekers, family gatherings, hikers, backcountry skiers, musicians, wedding planners, and events and retreat organizers. Adjacent to the Bitterroot National Forest with hiking trails, two creeks, and no public access, sojourners to the lodge are assured an intimate, private vacation experience three miles passed the nearest neighbors.

Within less than a half hour drive during the summer months, there is great hiking into various Bitterroot Canyons, shopping at the local farmers market on Wednesday evening and Saturday morning, multiple access points to the Bitterroot River, great rock climbing in Blodgett, Mill, Kootenai, and Lost Horse Canyons, a public golf course, small airport, local playhouse, movie theater, grocery stores, antique markets, the Performing Arts Center, playgrounds, a bike path, Lake Como, mountain biking trails, restaurants, health clubs, and a variety of shopping opportunities in Hamilton.

Located along the Lewis and Clark Trail, there is Traveler's Rest State Park in Lolo with an interpretive center. The Daly Mansion built by the Copper King from Butte, Marcus Daly, is five minutes east of Hamilton on the Eastside Highway. A must see for a tour, the Daly Mansion and grounds is a location that regularly hosts summertime events including music festivals, a Native American PowWow, and other social events.

Lake Como, half an hour south, is a great recreational site with hiking and mountain biking trails, a beach, a power boat launch, a kayaking creek, good fishing, and great views of the Como Peaks. The most popular destination in the Northern Region of the Forest Service, Lake Como and the surrounding area has much to offer the traveler. Lost Horse Canyon, adjacent to Lake Como, has a Forest Service road that accesses high mountain lakes and trailheads.

Close to home there are ranches with horse riding opportunities and I can recommend the best fishing guide on the Bitterroot River. Tubing the Bitterroot River is a popular family attraction on hot summer days with tubes available at the local tire shops on 1st street.

We can rent a couple canoes, paddles, and PFDs for Lake Como or the Bitterroot River. We also have a few bikes for rent.

The local playhouse, Hamilton Players, performs regular theatrical plays and musicals throughout the year, and Shakespeare in the Park travels through Hamilton on its summer sojourn throughout Montana.

From the Hamilton Airport scenic flights over and into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness are available and really fun on a clear day. Flying to a remote landing strip on the Selway River and fly-fishing for the day is one of the pinnacle experiences for the avid, wild trout fisherman. I can recommend the best commercial pilots for this opportunity.

Rock Creek, a blue ribbon fishery, is an hour and a half drive. The Nez Perce Pass allows vehicle access to the largest wilderness area in the Lower 48 states and the amazing catch and release fishery along the Selway River. Permitted rafting and Kayak trips are managed by the forest service during the permit season, but before May 15th and after August 1st anyone may launch on this world renowned 50 mile stretch of Class 4 whitewater. From the Selway River Road, the Magruder Corridor is accessible to those with four wheel drive, high clearance vehicles. From elevations as low as 4,000' to over 7,000', this rugged road is the epitome of a wilderness road experience and requires hours to complete and is generally snow-choked at higher elevations until sometime in July. The Salmon River is also within a day trip's distance, with whitewater rafting and kayaking, hotsprings and the best steelhead trout run in the area. Over Lolo Pass is the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River accessed by a good, paved road with beautiful cedar forests, awesome roadside whitewater, remote undeveloped hot springs, and good fishing opportunities.

Conveniently located halfway between Montana's premier National Parks of Glacier and Yellowstone, utilizing the Downing Mountain Lodge as a stop over destination on the way between these parks is popular.

Missoula is our closest city with a regional airport serviced by Delta, Alaska, United, and Allegiant. Many of our guests fly in from all over the country with air service from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Denver, Minneapolis, L.A., San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Private pilots will find Hamilton Airport convenient.

There are a couple communication towers 100 yards uphill from the lodge behind trees, with the benefit being great cell phone service and high speed wireless internet service at the lodge.


Owner info

Year Purchased: 2012

About the owner: Jenny and I, John Lehrman, purchased the property in July 2012 after managing the lodge as a destination backcountry ski lodge since 2008 and caretaking the facility since 1998. It has always been our dream to purchase the lodge and operate it as a year round, adventure lodging and events destination. In 2012 everything came together for us to purchase and move forward with our dream. We both studied at the University of Montana in the Forestry School for Wildlife Biology and Resource Conservation and decided to stay in Montana for the wealth of outdoor and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Why the Owner Chose Hamilton:
We chose to buy this property because it is the one-of-a-kind, unique mountain retreat in the Bitterroot Range. Located at 5,550 feet elevation it is the highest elevation home in the Bitterroot Mountains. Its proximity to great backcountry ski terrain, hiking, and to the town of Hamilton, where we live, make it the perfect year round private recreation/relaxation destination. Nowhere else nearby is there a private access road to high elevation that is adjacent to high quality, pristine, ski and hiking terrain on the Forest Service.

The Unique Benefits at this Chalet:
We fell in love with the property over the years caretaking for the owner during the winter and then opening and operating the Downing Mountain Lodge during the winter. After four successful years managing the winter lodge and meeting all the great people who come to us from all over the country for backcountry skiing, we knew we had a genuinely great lodge business that satisfied many different people and families and brought out the best in us as we bring to our guests the most authentic of backcountry experiences. With the lodge accessible to wheeled vehicles during the summer, and desirable to more than backcountry skiers, we know taking the leap into ownership and year round adventure lodging and consulting will be a great way to pursue our career goals and offer our guests the year round benefits of this unique log lodge in its unique location.

Contact us

Speaks: english, french, spanish

Guestbook comments from the owner

1 of 1


  • Downing Mountain Lodge, barbecue deck, and the Bitterroot Valley looking south.

    Downing Mountain Lodge, barbecue deck, and the Bitterroot Valley looking south.

  • The Master, 'Skalkaho Bedroom.'

    The Master, 'Skalkaho Bedroom.'

  • 'Owings Creek Bedroom'

    'Owings Creek Bedroom'

  • The Lodge Great Room

    The Lodge Great Room

  • The band Three Range warms up for our openhouse December 17th, 2011.

    The band Three Range warms up for our openhouse December 17th, 2011.

  • The shower bathroom

    The shower bathroom

  • Late Fall and the first snow arrives!

    Late Fall and the first snow arrives!

  • Ski season at the Crown Bowl.

    Ski season at the Crown Bowl.

  • Looking east to Hamilton two thousand feet below.

    Looking east to Hamilton two thousand feet below.

  • The entryway with love seat swing.

    The entryway with love seat swing.

  • The Central fireplace at the lodge.

    The Central fireplace at the lodge.

  • 'Sleeping Child Bedroom'

    'Sleeping Child Bedroom'

  • The commercial kitchen with exit door to hot tub deck.

    The commercial kitchen with exit door to hot tub deck.

  • Downing Mountain Lodge in Winter

    Downing Mountain Lodge in Winter

  • The bathroom's vanity sinks

    The bathroom's vanity sinks

  • Summer and the flowers are blooming and the living is easy.

    Summer and the flowers are blooming and the living is easy.

  • Downing Mountain Lodge from the Bitterroot Valley in Winter; lodge lower left.

    Downing Mountain Lodge from the Bitterroot Valley in Winter; lodge lower left.

  • Sledding anyone?!

    Sledding anyone?!

  • The view north up the Valley to St. Mary's Peak.

    The view north up the Valley to St. Mary's Peak.

  • The hot tub on the south deck...beckoning.

    The hot tub on the south deck...beckoning.

VRBO #420500

This listing was first published here in 2012.

Date last modified - Friday, November 27, 2015

Minimum stay: 1-2 nights
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Member since: 2012
Speaks: english, french, spanish
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  • Calendar last updated 11/24/2015
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Bordering National Forest Land, a private retreat on 80 acres

Hamilton #420500

3 BR  2 BA  Sleeps 12

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