“Blackfoot” is our latest color for the Montana Ghost Wood. Like the “Ruby River”, we have spent a lot of time fishing and enjoying the Blackfoot River. Here too, are old wood structures that have aged to a color of black and brown-rust. This river has some of the most colorful old barns in Montana along its banks.
The town and river were named after the Blackfeet Indians. One story is that painting one’s moccasins black gave one power to catch buffalo. Another is that the Indians’ moccasins turned black when they crossed burned prairies. Regardless, the tribe was named Siksiksa, which translates to Blackfeet.
The Blackfoot River begins along the Continental Divide in the mountains outside Lincoln and flows through scenic and diverse countryside for 130 miles before its confluence with the Clark Fork near the town of Bonner.
Meriwether Lewis traveled along the Blackfoot River on his return trip across Montana. It became a transportation corridor for years, serving Indians, trappers, miners, and loggers. The first large-scale timber cutting started in 1885 at Bonner; its principal customer was copper king, Marcus Daly.
In 1992, the release of the movie “A River Runs Through It” attracted many people to the state. Today, the Blackfoot River is one of the more popular rivers in Montana for fly-fishing, rafting, and just relaxing. A recreationer’s paradise, it affords 30 miles of easy access for whitewater enthusiasts, fishers, and in the lower stretches of the river, slowly floating down on tubes. The river’s proximity to Missoula, which is one of the fastest growing regions of the state, has also led to an increased use of the river.
In the upper half of the river, the Blackfoot runs slowly through dense forests with brushy and timbered banks. Numerous logjams are found in the river. Beginning near River Junction Fishing Access Site, about the halfway point, the Blackfoot picks up velocity and flows through a broad, sparsely wooded plain. A wildlife preserve exists on the far side of the road to the north of the river. This section is an excellent spot to observe elk, moose, deer, and bears. The river then flows through a beautiful canyon and emerges from the mountains just a couple of miles above the Clark Fork.
We have had the privilege to help preserve this spectacular place by working with Trout Unlimited on restoring the watershed and its classic trout habitat.