The Blackfoot River Corridor Scenic Drive
The Blackfoot River Corridor Scenic Drive is a short but scenic detour off Highway 200, to the east of Bonner and the west of Ovando. The eighteen-mile drive closely follows the Blackfoot River and provides access to many fishing and floating access areas.
While the views along the corridor are nothing special when compared to other places in Montana, anyone traveling down Highway 200 should consider taking this scenic detour, as the views of the scenic Blackfoot River are excellent. Anglers will also want to know about this route, as this section of the Blackfoot River has the best trout fishing.
Made nationally famous by the movie A River Runs Through It, the Blackfoot River went from a forgotten about river to out-state anglers to one of the more popular rivers for floating and fishing in Montana. Besides having excellent trout fishing, the Blackfoot River is a very popular river for recreational floating, particularly along the stretch that the scenic drive follows. On weekends, it’s common to see people floating down the river in “anything that floats,” although inflatable rafts, inflatable kayaks, pontoon boats and drift boats are the best choices when it comes to navigating the many rapids on this section of the Blackfoot River.
Despite the popularity of the Blackfoot River, the scenic drive that follows the river on the northern side of the river isn’t especially busy. Generally, most people who use the river use Highway 200.
The Blackfoot River Corridor Scenic Drive begins at the Roundup Fishing Access site, which is where Highway 200 crosses the Blackfoot River about midway between the towns of Bonner and Ovando. The road the scenic drive initially follows, which isn’t marked, is called Nine Mile Prairie Road.
The first several miles of the drive are probably the most scenic, at least in terms of open views, as the road passes through open fields and prairie. Up to Corricks Riverbend Fishing Access Site the road, while gravel, is wide and is usually in good condition. Trailers are allowed on this stretch of road, too.
To the west of Corricks Riverbend Fishing Access Site, however, the road narrows considerably and begins to twist and turn extensively. Although the road passes through forested terrain, the forests aren’t extremely thick and there’s plenty of open vistas along the route. Vehicles with trailers are prohibited on this section of the road, which runs for about five miles.
After five miles, the road reaches Whittaker Bridge, a narrow bridge that crosses the Blackfoot River. The road changes over to a wide, well-conditioned gravel road where trailers are allowed again.
Between Whittaker Bridge and the end of the drive at the junction with Highway 200, the Blackfoot River Corridor Scenic Drive has many fine views of both the Blackfoot River and the surrounding forested mountains. Moreover, many of the fishing and camping spots along this section of the river are outstanding. Although camping is restricted to designated areas, anglers can simply pick a spot and start fishing anywhere they choose.
Overall, the Blackfoot River Corridor Scenic Drive isn’t the most scenic of drives in Montana in terms of awe-inspiring scenery. Yet, the drive is well worth taking for visitors who are visiting this part of Montana.
- Length: 18 miles
- Highlights : Blackfoot River, Nine Mile Prairie, Views of Garnet Range
- Road Type : Gravel
- Nearby Towns : Ovando, Bonner, Missoula
- 4wd needed? : No
- Traffic : Light to Moderate
- Trailers? : Yes in upper/lower sections. No in middle section of drive between Whittaker Bridge and Corricks Riverbend Fishing Access Sites
- Season : Middle section not maintained in the winter
Where to Stay & Other Services
There are no services or lodging along the drive. However, the towns of Ovando and Bonner are nearby and have ample places to buy gas and other supplies.
There are many camping spots along the scenic drive. However, on busy weekends during the summer they can fill up quickly. These camping spots also aren't inexpensive, either. Primitive camping isn't allowed along the route.
For lodging that includes electricity and the Internet, the best place to find a room is in Missoula.