Arlee, Montana | Southern Gateway to the Flathead Indian Reservation
Welcome to Arlee. A quintessential Montana town, Arlee is the southern gateway to the Flathead Indian Reservation: an area spanning 1.317 million beautiful acres. Named after a Flathead Indian chief, Arlee itself, is neither a town or a city, but rather what the United States government has dubbed a census designated place, or CDP (i.e. the unincorporated statistical equivalent of incorporated places like cities, towns and villages). Out here it’s the Old West with a modern twist. Ranches and dilapidated structures set against the grandeur of 80 million year old glacier-carved mountains give this region a unique type of untouched, native character.On this particular day, my mood was as ominous as the weather. The grey, cloudy snow storm, mixed with the less than familiar mountain wilderness and set against the relative poverty that characterizes many parts of this area made the perfect setting, because sometimes you need a little dark and gloomy to complement the incessant beauty of The Last Best Place.Perhaps it’s that they occupy the less maintained Native lands, or that they are relatively unfamiliar to me, but something about the missions strikes me as untouched and almost hauntingly novel. So, leaving Missoula we headed north to hike Jocko Canyon and here is where we found ourselves.Montana is like that though. If you go for a few miles in any direction, you’ll soon arrive in a fairytale. Its every inch is picturesque.
So, on days like this one, when I feel the crippling weight of choosing the perfect destination, I pack up the dogs, hop in the Subaru and drive. Inevitably, each time I soon find myself in one of the most aesthetically pleasing and serene places that can be reached by car. On roads and trails in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lakes, mountains, rivers and winding creeks, I feel grounded. It’s lonely out here, peacefully silent, and beautiful.