Living in BigforkIyna Bort Caruso
In Big Sky Country, where two rivers flow into the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi, is the high altitude arts town of Bigfork, Montana.
Bigfork sits at a scenic juncture where the Swan River and Flathead River flow into Flathead Lake and hugs 128 miles of shoreline in a northwestern pocket of the state.
There’s no lack of elbow room. Eighty percent of Flathead County where Bigfork is loçated is protected national parklands, federal and state forests and private timber reserves. Glacier National Park is less than an hour away as are two ski resorts, Whitefish Mountain to the north and Blacktail Mountain to the west. The area enjoys a relatively mild climate owing to the protection of the mountains and lake, making it the perfect launching pad for an adventurous four-season outdoor lifestyle. In May, the Bigfork Whitewater Festival attracts extreme kayakers and canoers from all parts of the world. Come summer, when the population swells, hikers, anglers, bicyclists and golfers are out in full force. The sculpted fairways of Eagle Bend Golf Course, a 27-hole championship course, are as beautiful as they are challenging. Eagle Bend is routinely ranked among the top 50 courses in the United States.
Bigfork was founded in 1901 and made a name for itself as a logging town. It has, however, evolved from timber to tourism. Today the “Village by the Bay” is well known for its shops, restaurants, live theater, outdoor concert series and numerous art galleries.
Among the town’s residents--just over 4,200--is a mix of part-time vacation homeowners and full-time urban refugees. Homes along the shores of Flathead Lake are in high demand, both executive residences and historic log cabins. In the foothills of the mountains are equestrian properties, ranches and lodge-style homes, some with guest cabins and caretaker residences.