Polebridge is a small town in the middle of nowhere, Montana.
Accessible by a gravel road, Polebridge might seem to be too far off the path to make it worth your while. But something about Polebridge has captured my heart; something I am not sure that I can put into words.
First of all, Polebridge is a small town. And by small, I mean literally a couple of buildings. The population is maybe 100 people. (Don’t trust me on that number, I am not positive. But you get the point. The town is small.)
The gravel road is actually a pretty good road during the summer. This is especially true if you come from the Camas Road in Glacier National Park. If you drive all of the way from Columbia Falls on the North Fork Road, it can get washboard-y as the summer goes on due to the amount of traffic. For some reason, it gets better once you reach the turn off to Camas Road. Surrounded by open meadows, the view of the mountains from Polebridge is stunning (looking into Glacier National Park to the East), making the setting worth every minute spent there.
Polebridge is a friendly place. There is an area filled with picnic tables that is open to anyone who drives up to sit at. You can pack a picnic lunch and eat it here.
One of the cutest things I think is the board that says “North Fork News.” You can read people’s latest postings. I love this photo for the DANCE being advertised.
I’m dying to go to a dance in Polebridge, Montana.
Next door, there is the Northern Lights Saloon that opens for dinner, serving homemade Ice Tea, Prime Rib on some nights, and alcohol. The staff is so friendly, and will give you the history of Polebridge and their Saloon.
But what I would suggest is trying the incredible food at the Polebridge Mercantile. Fondly referred to as “The Merc,” this stop is famous for its baked goods. It seems dark and dusty inside, (while charming in its own way), but don’t let it deter you from trying their food.
Their selection of baked goods is overwhelming. There are so many! They are everywhere! If you buy the “Bakers Dozen,” you get one for free. So why not try one of each? That’s what I recommend. Cookies are $0.50 cents apiece, and the rest of their baked goods vary in prices. I love the Snicker doodle cookies, the Mocha cookies, and the Huckleberry Bearclaws …. hmm I could probably go on and on. We don’t make it home with the “Bakers Dozen” very often. Okay. Never.
The Merc has sandwiches (both breakfast and lunch style) available for purchase that are kept hot in a warmer. I was worried when I first tried these that would not be good as they had been sitting in the warmer, but oh my gosh. They are so good. A great place to grab lunch to eat outside, and to try the interesting variety of sandwiches they offer.
Keep in mind that the Merc closes during the winter season, so be sure to check their dates.
Between the Saloon and the Merc there is a volleyball court, sand and all, that is open to anyone. There are balls available for use in buckets attached to the poles that hold up the net. What better way to make a new friend than to play a game of beach volleyball, right?
There is also no cellular service available in Polebridge. What! In this day and age, we are so attached to our smart phones, even I have a hard time turning mine off when we head up there. But how peaceful is that? No smart phones. No Internet. No Facebook. You can actually engage in a conversation with the wonderful people you traveled to Polebridge with, or strike up a conversation with a stranger on the benches outside the Merc.
Due to there being no cell service, the Merc has provided a few payphones to use out front. Yes, I said payphones. I am not sure I even remember how to use a payphone. I have heard quite a few people comment on how they haven’t seen a payphone in years. But they are available for your use.
The Half Moon House is the outhouse out the back of the Merc. There is no sink or water inside. They do provide a bottle of hand sanitizer, however. This is the only public restroom in Polebridge, so chances are, you will probably get acquainted with the Half Moon House on your trip through.
Polebridge provides access to both Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake in Glacier National Park. While these are two of Glacier’s most remote lakes, they provide the beauty of Glacier without as many people as some of the other areas. If you just continue on through Polebridge, you will cross the Flathead River and enter Glacier National Park.
Note that the Merc does have cabins available for rent, but they rent out ONE YEAR in advance. Yes. I said one year. Hard to believe, but true. So plan ahead if you want to stay right in Polebridge on your next trip.
Don’t come to Polebridge to shop. You won’t find anything except a few MT items available in the Merc.
Get gas before you head up!!
I hope you enjoy Polebridge as much as I do.
If you want to continue up the road past Polebridge, read my blog post about the drive to the Canadian border.
Warmest Wishes from Big Sky Country,
Alex M. Neill
Montana Vacation Blog