MaClay Flat Interpretive Trail

Plan Now for a Fall Getaway to Missoula

Mountain top hiking trail with autumn foliage, blue sky and distant mountain peaksFall is a favorite season for those that love the outdoors in Missoula. The cooler weather, brilliant fall colors and quieter hiking trails all make fall the best time for a getaway. The beautiful landscape with rivers, lakes, forests and mountains are home to all kinds of wildlife. Explore beautiful trails leading to sweeping vistas of the glowing autumn treetops. Along the way watch for a variety of birds and mammals that make their home in the Montana landscape. Keep enjoying the great views after a day of fall hiking, by staying at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast. Nestled in a mountainside overlooking the Bitterroot River and surrounding valley, our guests wake up to breathtaking views each day. That along with a hearty, gourmet breakfast will have you ready for another day of adventures. Reserve your luxury suite with us today and a relaxing fall vacation in beautiful Missoula.

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Top Nature Preserves to Visit Near Missoula

Clear mountain river running through a green forestSimply put, Missoula worships the outdoors. That’s why nature preserves are found everywhere, not only in the countryside but also right in the city’s downtown. Find a quiet retreat just blocks from bustling restaurants. Explore challenging steep hikes or easy nature trails, all with in the same preserve. Some parks are known for their glacier lakes and plunging waterfalls, while others are home to abundant wildlife. And almost every activity can be found from hiking, biking and horseback riding to boating, fishing and photography. Plan your summer getaway here at a tranquil mountainside retreat that’s close to everything. The Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, just minutes from downtown Missoula, has everything needed for a perfect summer vacation. Wake up each morning with sweeping valley and mountain views. Each private suite includes its’ own bath with jetted tubs, to soothe tired muscles after hiking or biking. And our hearty, gourmet breakfast will have you ready for another day exploring the beautiful landscape. Book your outdoor adventure with us today.

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Welcome to Fall in Missoula!

Fall Getaway to Beautiful MissoulaThough we’re sad to see what has been a remarkable summer in Montana come to an end, we are definitely looking forward to some cooler weather, and maybe even a little rain. The wildfires this summer have been extreme, and have definitely impacted many of Montana’s communities.  Despite this, the mountains are already showing hints of their colorful autumnal hues, and there is no better time to plan a getaway to Missoula.  Here, you’ll find large stretches of untouched wilderness. As the air continues to cool, we’ll soon be surrounded by fall’s hallmark hues of crimson, orange, yellow, and green. Take advantage of this incredible fall weather, and book your room with us today.
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Summer Adventures Abound in Missoula

Adventures in MissoulaAre you into trying new things and want to go on exciting adventures?  Then Missoula is the destination for you!  Whether your adventure is a simple hiking trip into the wilderness, or something a bit more extreme and adrenaline-fueled, you will definitely find what you’re looking for here.  When you’re done with your adventures for the day, Missoula’s a great place to relax.  Missoula’s reputation as a hip and trendy, yet laid back destination, is perfect for adventurous couples and thrill-seekers alike.  Unwind with a delicious, cold craft beer, enjoy a locally-sourced meal, or take in some vibrant and local live music.  When it’s time to rest and prepare for your next adventure, the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast offers the finest accommodations in Missoula.  Book your stay with us today!   Continue reading

Spring Bird Migration in Missoula, Montana- Feeding the Hummingbirds!

DSCF3495 smallOne of the most delightful seasonal changes in Missoula, Montana occurs when the humming birds begin to arrive!  Here at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, we mark our calendars and put food up in mid-April.  These little charmers mean that summer is just around the corner, or so we hope.  This year, the little fellows must think they arrived a couple of months early because Montana welcomed them with a blanket of snow.  I certainly don’t mean to be sexist when I throw the word fellow out there.  However scientifically, certain species of male humming birds migrate a bit earlier than the females in order to secure their territories.  Anyone who has spent some time around these birds can’t help but notice their territorial nature.  It’s interesting to note that unlike many other migratory bird species, hummingbirds are solitary and do not migrate as part of a flock or group.

 Here it is, the last day of April and the white cherry blossoms are covered over by a fairly heavy dusting of snow.  In fact, Brady swept off more than an inch of snow from our decks!IMG_2622 small

Well, welcome little wings of wonder.  Welcome to our winter wonderland of snow that drapes the trees in white and now blankets the hidden green of our valleys.  The sun is sure to shine down on us tomorrow.

Humming Bird Nectar Recipes:

To help our little friends sustain their energy, we use different sugar-water mixtures depending upon specific seasonal needs.

Blue Mountain B&B’s high energy mixture (early spring/fall):  Our first Humming birds begin to filter through Missoula by the 3rd or 4th week of April, but most of them are just passing through on their way north.  Whether they still have a distance to fly or are here to stay, they are exhausted… having lost as much as 25% of their body weight on the long trip.  They can use all the help they can get, especially during a year like this one!  During the first three weeks of the season, we put out a very high concentration of nectar, mixing 1 1/2 cups sugar with 2 cups of boiling water.  Studies of flower nectar sugar content have found concentrations as high as 60% and as low as 6%.  The lower concentrations are not enough to keep these little guys healthy and they have to feed far more often.  (The traditional concentration of 4 to 1 is the minimum to sustain the birds and maximizes people’s viewing pleasure, as they must come and feed between 10 and 14 times an hour.) With the near 1 to 1 ratio we set out when they first arrive, we help them replenish their strength, spend more time building their nests, or give them some additional calories for that final destination if they are just stopping by.  With such a high concentration, the birds need only feed between 4 and 6 times an hour.  Starting in September or late August, we again fill the feeders with this high energy nectar to give them a good head start on their migration back south.   in flight

 Blue Mountain B&B’s sweet, summer mixture:  Our summer mixture is still heavier than the traditional, being 1 1/2 cups sugar to 4 cups of water.  This gives the birds additional calories each time they feed so they do not have to feed as often.  During the summer, there are many natural nectar supplies on the mountain as well.  We have more than enough birds visiting our feeders for our viewing pleasure anyway, particularly considering the fact that so many of them are nesting, thus reproducing here on Blue Mountain.  A big advantage to feeding a higher concentration even during the summer is that it serves a larger population of birds and the re-filling time and effort is cut way down.


Most North American humming birds have seasonal migration patterns, wintering in the south and nesting in the north.  The further a hummingbird must migrate, the sooner it must start its journey.  Rufous hummingbirds have the longest migration of any hummingbird species and remember, there are over three hundred species world-wide.  Only a few of those migrate, but still an impressive statistic.  It’s amazing to think that many of the rufous migrate between Mexico and Alaska.  This means they travel thousands of miles, not once, but twice in the same year!  We are wishing these little guys lots of luck right now as we see quite a few passing through.

Knowing more about hummingbird migration patters helps backyard birders, like ourselves, anticipate when certain hummers will arrive.  This is particularly important because they use up so much energy and we know from experience that blossoms and bugs can be pretty sparse this time of year.  Interestingly enough, migrating hummers are often very predictable in their patterns, arriving at the same yards and then continuing on their journeys within days during the same calendar period each year.  We count on them to brighten our warmer months, but most importantly, they may actually count on us!  (On a side note, if you wish to know more about the banding of hummingbirds in our area, the following is an interesting link.  Other hummingbird research-related topics are being conducted at The University of Montana.  Enjoy!)

There are many controversial topIMG_0426ics and myths out there related to hummingbird feeders.  The majority of reading material states many beneficial aspects of feeding humming birds, as long as certain standards are put in place!  Feeders can actually aide in the successful migration of these high metabolic bird burners.  Feeders do not discourage hummingbirds from continuing their migration, they simply ensure that they have a food source that can be counted on.  This is why placing feeders up in the early spring and continuing to keep them around in the fall is important.  It is exactly during these times that enhancing the sugar content in their food is so important.  It not only gives them the additional calories they need at this time, but the extra sugar helps prevent the solution from freezing.
To Perch or not to Perch?  What about the “HOT” Montana topic of perch hypothermia?  Well, my suggestion is to read several of the following, very interesting articles!

Another important topic of discussion is related to the use of red dye to attract humming birds?  Could the spelling of dye be interchangeable with die is some cases?  It’s something to think about carefully and read up on.  Is red coloring really necessary in order to attract hummers?  Remember, most feeders already have a splash of red on them which is usually more than enough.  If it’s hard for you to resist putting out that eye-catching red water, then try adding some natural berry juice to the sugar water instead!

BEAR, Beware:  remember to take your feeders in at night if you are in bear territory.  Some bears can become habituated to the sight of feeders, day and night.  In some areas, feeders may not be a smart choice at all.


Here in Montana, we begin welcoming back several different bird species in the early springtime.  Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast is registered as a backyard wildlife habitat.  We have many forest birds that are here year round and others that come and go during the various seasons.  Our location, high above the valley floor, literally offers guests a bird’s eye view of their own as well as many on-site birding activities.  Not far from the bed and breakfast are many additional options for viewing birds in a variety of settings.  Five Valleys Audubon offers an entire list of great Missoula birding locations.  One of the closest locations is Maclay Flat, which is part of the Blue Mountain Recreation Area.  Just down the valley,  Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge is one of our favorite places to send guests.  We often take the half hour jaunt ourselves to enjoy the wide variety of waterfowl and other treasures “hidden away” in this part of The Bitterroot Valley.

It doesn’t matter what timeHummingbird on front deck -small of year you visit Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, you are certain to see many birds.  The spring, however is a particularly wonderful time for celebrating birds and everything that has to do with feathers.  The Bitterroot Audubon Society has a calendar of events posted and Montana Audubon has a list of local as well as state-wide events.  So bring your enthusiasm, your camera and your vacation plans to Montana.  We will help ensure that your trip is both wild and wonderful here at Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast!

We have many guest who spend time observing our various birds, but one summer in particular always comes to mind.  Several years ago, a surgeon stayed with us for an entire week.  He spent most of his vacation sitting on our front deck watching the many humming birds species feed!  It’s a daily reminder to me that sometimes the most satisfying things in life are pure and simple.



Blue Mountain Recreation Area, Missoula

Lower trailhead- 1/2 mile from Hwy 93 on Blue Mountain Road.

Blue Mountain B&B is conveniently backed up against the massive 5,500-acre Blue Mountain Recreation Area. A number of Missoula recreation groups worked with Lolo National Forest to create this 41 miles of trails and facilities. It’s an amazing offering for the enjoyment of all, whether you’re an ATV enthusiast or a nature lover going down a well-paved path in a wheelchair.  Trails are often specified as being maintained for the sole purpose of hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking or motorized activities.  Because of this, people can enjoy trails according to their specific outdoor interests and feel safe doing so.

DIRECTIONS:  From Missoula, travel two miles south of Reserve Street on Hwy 93 South.  Turn right at the light onto Blue Mountain Road and then choose from the following three main access points.  The lower trailhead has horse facilities and is also a great place to walk your dog (0.5 of a mile north on Blue Mountain Road 559).  Past this point and off to the left is Forest Road 365 (1.2 miles from Hwy 93 South).  MaClay Flats continues on the main paving and is about 1.7 miles from the highway.

Birding & river access

MaClay Flat Interpretive Trail:  This is a perfect choice for anyone who prefers a wide, level path with an even surface.  This 1.25-mile trail with a 1.8-mile loop takes your through the meadows and mountain views along the Bitterroot River.  This trail is a great place for avid birders, particularly in the spring.  In the summer many people use this location to tube or raft the river.


Bitterroot River at MaClay Flats

Forest Roads 365 and 2137:  If you like a nice 11-mile drive in the mountains, take these maintained forest roads to see grand views of the Missoula Valley. You’ll be going up over 3,000 feet over the course of the drive, from 3,200 feet to 6,460 feet. During limited times of the year, you can also visit the Blue Mountain Forest Service Lookout.  As you wind up the road, you will enjoy a view of the M and the valley of Missoula.  In the heat of summer, it’s nice to pull over and enjoy one of the little streams along the roadside.


Frisbee Golf “Folf” Course:  There is a large course for folfers to enjoy that comes with a great view!  This course is near the beginning of the main Blue Mountain road near the winter-time sledding hill.

“Folf” course

 Blue Mountain Nature Trail:  This popular trail is a quarter mile loop en route to Forest Road 365. Everyone, from individuals to families and school groups, likes to stop here because of the trail’s educational on-site  interpretive information.

Blue Mountain National Recreational Trail:  Another quarter mile loop trail for hiking only (sorry, no mountain bikes!), this one goes from the base of Blue Mountain to the Forest Service Lookout.

Fire Lookout:  Eleven miles up Road 365 is a 50 foot tower that is open to visitors during the summer season from 9am to 6pm. Watch a video!

Blue Mountain Observatory Run by the University of Montana, offers several free public viewing nights.  You should always call ahead to make sure a viewing date has not been canceled for some reason (406-243-5179)

Motor Vehicle Trails:  This is one of the few area trails that allows off-road motorcycles and four-wheelers. Twelve miles long, the trailhead for ATVs/motorcycles is up Forest Road 365 three miles on the south (left) side.  In the winter months, Road 365 is closed but available for snowmobiling one mile above the gate.  Snowmobiling is not allowed below this point.

Brady heading out on Raven to clear trails on our side of the mountain!

Right Outside Your Guest Room Door:  If you don’t mind going on unmarked trails, you can enjoy the south side of Blue Mountain, which offers a cool retreat among the trees.  This area is known as Deadman Gulch and includes both state and federal land.  In the spring time, you can enjoy the tiny trickle of the little creek that starts higher up.  The flora and fauna in this area is always lovely.  Depending on the season, you might spot lady slippers, wild columbine, grouse, deer and other wildlife wonders.  Once in a while you can find inn owners Brady and Elaine clearing some of the trails with the help of their mountain horses (3 Fjords, a Percheron and mule).  Most of the trails on this side eventually join up with the main recreational trails on Blue Mountain but they aren’t used by many people. Because of this, the paths are less worn but the solitude is wonderful!

Kuma cooling off in the creek- a dog’s life for me!

Enjoy the culture and history of Missoula as well as all these amazing trails right near our Missoula bed and breakfast inn. Our accommodations between Missoula and Lolo are perfectly located for your outdoor exploring and adventures.