Tucked away in Southwest Montana in a valley between mountain ranges is the surprisingly delightful town of Deer Lodge. Its laid back environment has some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet. The town has its own charm and history, but also has a freshness that is inviting and appealing. A little over 3,000 people call this place home. Visitors are attracted to the open meadows, unique shops, and the Elk Ridge Brewing Company. The Clark Fork River also winds its way through town. It's a great place to visit, but it's an even greater place to live.
A Brief History of Deer Lodge
It appears that the first settlers arrived in the area around the early 1860s. It was used as a place to keep herds of horses and cattle during the winter by trappers/traders. Also around that time, gold was found in Gold Creek and a road, Mullan Road, was built at the northern end of Deer Lodge Valley to connect it with Washington territories. It was also an important railroad town, serving as a division headquarters. Johnny Grant moved his rather large family to the valley where it began to grow as headquarters for supplies to mines in the nearby areas. It is now the site of the Grant-Kohrs Ranch Historic Site which you can tour.
In 1865, Deer Lodge City became the county seat. The Territorial Prison was located in Deer Lodge in 1869 and in 1878, Montana Collegiate Institute was built. Today, Deer Lodge has made the prison into its Old Prison Museum, taking up 6 city blocks. It's combined with an auto museum to make the Powell County Museum Complex. It's what you'd expect from a small town, where everyone knows everyone and respects their neighbors.
What is it like to live in Deer Lodge?
Living in Deer Lodge is waking up to beautiful blue skies and clean mountain air most every day. It has a humid continental climate with the average high temperature in December to be around 32°F, with very little snow in the valley. The average high temperature in June is near 70°F, with very little rainfall. July and August are usually the warmest months with the highs reaching into the low 90s. However, it may still reach down into the 40s at night, which is perfect for that light jacket and cup of hot cocoa-cocoa. The median age in Deer Lodge is 51, so there is a fair amount of people who are retired living in the area. The cost of living is relatively low.
Schools in Deer Lodge
Living in Deer Lodge, there are two schools making up the elementary education: Speer School from PK-6 and Duvall from 7-8. The high school is Powell County High School with grades from 9-12. Montana Tech of the University of Montana is only 28 miles away in Butte.
Buying a Home in Deer Lodge
It's a great time to buy a home in Deer Lodge. Most Wanted Real Estate can assist you with buying or selling. The median home value is priced near $113,000; with the median rental priced at $530. You'll find smaller homes located in town, with larger ranch homes built on acreage outside of town. Most homes have basements that have been built out. Some of the mountain lodges are priced over $1,000,000 and offer spectacular views of nearby mountains and creeks. There is also land available to buy to have your own custom home built. Prices have risen by around 4% and continue to rise as the area grows in popularity.
A very premier location to buying a home in Deer Lodge is the Rock Creek Cattle Company. This 30,000 acre development has home sites from one acre to 110 acres in a golf course community. Golfweek ranked the Tom Doak Golf Course as the #1 Best Residential Golf Course in both 2010 and 2012. This 18-hole course has won numerous awards, including #1 Montana: Best in State Rankings by Golf Digest 2017-2018. To play the course, you'll need a strategy and it helps to be a great putter. The views are amazing with aspen, fescue, sagebrush, and the mountains all around you. Rock Creek also offers magnificent scenic views as it winds through the course.
Homes in Rock Creek Cattle Company are priced in the low millions. This community also offers the Rock Creek Cattleman's Club, a restaurant and bar serving excellent food and a wide variety of wines from the Foley family. Other amenities include: the Creek Club, a top-notch fitness facility; a swimming hole, tennis, the Golf House, Carol Ann's Mercantile & Sundries, Spa 1919, ATV trails, skeet and trap ranges, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing.
Also offered for sale are condos, townhomes and commercial properties. Most Wanted Real Estate will be happy to guide you to the right property for your needs. They can also assist you with your mortgage and any other concerns you may have about buying real estate in the Deer Lodge area.
Working in Deer Lodge
While some are moving to the area for retirement, others own ranches, businesses, or work in the school or health fields. Arts, entertainment, recreation, agriculture, forestry, and the hunting and fishing industries, as well as warehousing and transportation are also part of the growing economy.
Places to Visit
The No. 1 tourist attraction is the Grant-Kohrs Ranch. Stop at the visitor's center for a brochure with a map and information about the ranch. Guided tours are available to take you through the massive ranch house. You'll be able to walk through the ranch's bunkhouse to see just how they used to live. The Thoroughbred Barn houses a collection of vehicles that were driven by horses. There are also several nature trails for you to enjoy walking in the ranch with all its scenic beauty. It's a great place for families to visit, especially children.
The Old Montana Prison & Auto Museum Complex is also a favorite place for tourists to visit. You'll see first-hand what it was like to be behind bars. The tour will take you through the halls where prisoners walked. You'll also see shackles, artwork, and daily log sheets showing how their days were spent. The Auto Museum has more than 160 cars displayed, from classic Chevrolets to a Schacht high wheeler. One of the most interesting things you'll find in the museum is the Thermador Car Cooler. There is also a theater and an electric locomotive.
Downtown Deer Lodge is home to the Quilter's Corner Etc., Rivers Edge Sporting Goods, Territorial Antiques & Uniques, the Frontier Montana Museum, and the Powell County Museum. During the winter, you may want to check out the Continental Divide/Leadville Snowmobile Trail.
The closest ski resort, Discovery Ski, is located near Philipsburg, just off Highway 1. The Great Divide Ski Area is just northwest of Helena in Marysville. It's always the first ski area to open in Montana.
Highway I-90 will take you right by Deer Lodge. Deer Lodge has its own county airport for your convenience. The next closest airport is Bert Mooney in Butte, Montana, about 30 miles away. The airport in Helena is about 38 miles away.