In the early 1900s, the community of Three Forks had 800 inhabitants, three general stores, two lumber yards, eight restaurants, a sheep shearing plant, graveled streets, two churches, two doctors & three real estate firms (funny, seems like there’s always been a lot of realtors in the county!) While Three Forks has certainly grown since then, it has maintained its charm and the self-proclaimed title as Montana’s Best Small Town! Located just 30 miles from Bozeman, it is becoming a place people are looking to call home as Bozeman grows and real estate prices rise. The median sales price of a home in Three Forks is $567,000 which is quite a bit less than the other towns in the area. The growth Bozeman has seen since 2020 has had a big impact on the surrounding communities, Three Forks included. We have seen a ton of new construction in the subdivisions surrounding Three Forks in the past two years. The more affordable home prices are not the only reason to move to Three Forks, for a small town, they have a lot to offer!
Three Forks is home to a talc processing mill that processes 3% of the world's talc supply and many residents live there as mill employees or family members of employees. Three Forks has a rich history, visited by Lewis and Clark in 1805 where the famous Missouri River begins, the longest river in North America. The Headwaters, just four miles from Three Forks, is where the Jefferson, Missouri, and Madison rivers flow together. Headwaters State Park is a popular spot to visit to learn more about the area's history. It's also a great spot to recreate! There is a campground, trails, and plenty of wildlife to view. The state park now connects through the Headwaters Trail System to the city of Three Forks. It is a paved trail that runs along the former Milwaukee Railroad bed.
A short drive away are two other state parks. Buffalo Jump State Park is one of the largest jump sites in the country. You can take a picnic and hike to the top of the buffalo jump for big views of the Madison River Valley. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is also near Three Forks and is an amazing geologic wonder. These limestone caverns are not to be missed and they offer tours throughout the summer. There is also camping available and hiking trails throughout the state park.
Three Forks has a beautiful golf course right in town with big mountain views and it is one of the few in Montana that is open year-round. The closer you get to Bozeman, the more snow you have, but towards Three Forks and Manhattan, the winters are milder (by Montana standards anyway). The Three Forks Airport is one mile south of downtown. This airport has a fully operational skydiving zone and has two glider clubs on the field, offering scenic rides and glider instruction.
With three big rivers nearby, fishing is huge in this town! There are hundreds of miles of blue-ribbon trout fishing near Three Forks. Within city limits are the Three Forks ponds that are perfect for children’s fishing. You’ll find people kayaking and canoeing in these ponds on warm days.
Three Forks is home to the beautiful and historic Sacajawea Hotel. The hotel opened in 1910 and is one of the Historic Hotels of America’s destinations. There is a ton of history throughout the hotel, along with modern amenities. The sweeping front porch is perfect for sitting out while enjoying a cocktail or morning coffee. There are two restaurant options. Pompey’s Grill is a steakhouse offering local food and a Montana atmosphere. The Sac Bar is more casual with food and live music on weekends. The Sacajawea Hotel has become a hot spot for weddings and events. The Sacajawea Hotel isn’t the only place in Three Forks for dining. Take a walk down Main Street and you’ll find plenty of options from small café’s to pizza. Also downtown is the Headwaters Heritage Museum which has collections of the area's rich history. They are open in the summer months and by appointment during the winter.
Two breweries have recently opened in Three Forks which is also an indication of the growth in this area. Bridger Brewing opened a large second location (the first is in Bozeman) right I-90 near Three Forks. They have a full restaurant and amphitheater outside for summer concerts, plus camping options. Right in town Sawdust and Steel Brewery opened this past fall. It's a no-frills brewery that is locally owned and has great beer!
Events in a small town bring a community together and Three Forks is no exception. The Three Forks Rodeo is one such event. It was first held in 1946 and keeps getting bigger! The Headwaters Run is another event each year and in 2007 was selected as the Montana Trail of the Year by the State Fish, Wildlife & Parks Department. It is a fundraising run held in July each year and is a beautiful course. No small town would be complete without an annual Christmas Stroll. In Three Forks, the stroll kicks off the holiday season downtown with caroling, tree lighting, horse-drawn carriage rides, gingerbread house contests, and photos with Santa! For a small town, Three Forks is big on charm and has everything you need. If they don't have it, Bozeman is just a 30-minute drive away.
Three Forks real estate prices are significantly lower than in Bozeman, and more people looking to Three Forks as an affordable alternative to Bozeman. Here’s what homes cost right now...
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