Merchant House High Desert
A mid-century Adobe house at the base of a mountain on 5 acres of un-spoilt landscape.
It’s an authentic Montana experience while still being very comfortable. It’s like a little haven.
How would you describe The Camp at Gash Creek in a nutshell?
The Camp at Gash Creek offers an authentic Montana experience while still being very comfortable. It’s like a little haven. It feels like you are in the wilderness but without being too remote.
How did it all start? What was the inspiration for the property?
We are based in Lancaster, Philadelphia and decided to do a family gap year to live in Montana from the summer of 2019 to the summer of 2020. It was one of the best decisions we have ever made as a family, even though around half our time away was during the pandemic. In fact, we probably timed it well!
Before we went, we already had an idea to buy a property, perhaps a cabin in a wooded area of upstate New York. But we loved Montana so much — it felt like home — that when it was time to leave, we decided we would look for something there instead. But it’s quite hard to get properties in Montana now as everyone wants to be there. My husband’s boss told him about his neighbour who was selling this property, so we got to see it privately.
It’s nine acres and backs onto forested state lands. You have the wilderness in your backyard. It feels remote as you can’t see any other properties but our neighbours are in fact fairly close. At first, we were going to do a tiny cabin (and might still do this) but then my husband suggested glamping tents. I found some inspiration on Instagram and my husband designed the tents (he’s really great at putting things together) using canvas that was custom made at a Montana outfitter.
On the property, there was already a bathhouse as the previous owner had started a project. So we had plumbing and electrics. We want to create a place where families can go to be together, unplug and experience the wilderness. There is no Wi-Fi!
A little path leads to the first tent, which is 16x14 feet and has a queen bed, a small games table, a dresser, lamps and string lights. French doors open onto the deck where you’ll find a couple of chairs that are ideal for sitting in the morning.
The second tent is a bunk tent sleeping 4 and reminiscent of camp with it's old school double bunks. Both tents feature a tiny wood stove to take the chill off in the spring and fall.
Around 100 feet away is the newly remodeled bathhouse with a shower, toilet, washer and dryer.
The kitchen section features a custom camp kitchen with a 2 burner stove top, mini fridge, coffee maker, toaster and open shelves. Everything you need to cook meals while camping There’s also a patio area with a picnic table and a large gas fire pit that you can sit around at night. We don’t allow open flames — it’s too much of a fire hazard.
Our family is building our camp slowly over time. We have started with one tent, featuring a queen bed, furnished with curated vintage items we have collected over the years. It's a short walk up the path to the newly remodeled bathhouse. There is a shower, toilet, washer and dryer in the bathroom section of the bathhouse. The kitchen section features a custom camp kitchen with a 2 burner stove top, mini fridge, coffee maker, toaster and open shelves. Everything you need to cook meals while camping!
There is a large outdoor eating area with a picnic table, gas grill and a beautiful gas fire pit with lounge chairs, perfect for a glass of wine after the sun goes down. We are available by text and have someone nearby who can stop by if there is an emergency. While we do have neighbors around us, to access our property you must go through a locked gate. We have 9 acres of land and the mountain behind us is state forest land that anybody can explore!
Just a note — our goal for this space is to eliminate distractions — we do not have WiFi or electricity in the tent...
There are amazing hikes throughout the valley and some beautiful waterfalls, as well as great fly fishing. You can swim and raft in the Bitterroot River too. Almost any kind of outdoor activity is possible.
There is also quite a lot of wildlife about but we don’t really see much at the camp. Maybe we were too loud! That being said, we do have bear spray and guests should be aware that this is the wilderness.
Our address is in Victor, which is a very small town around 15 minutes away with a grocery store and a couple of bars. If you drive 20 minutes in either direction, you’ll arrive at two towns — Stevensville and Hamilton — where you’ll find all kinds of restaurants and hardware stores. The closest city is Missoula, which is around 40/50 minutes away and has everything you need. There’s also an airport here with flights across the United States.
I provide clear directions for guests to get to the camp and the last couple of miles are on a bumpy dirt road. It is a gated property with a coded key lock and we ask that guests keep the gate closed during their stay as it’s also used by our neighbours.
We open from May to October (around six months of the year) but I would say the best time to go is in August when it’s warm and you can swim in the rivers. In spring, the water levels are too high because of the snow runoff and the water is very cold! By mid-July, it’s usually safe enough to swim. You could stay over the winter but it would be very cold and with a lot of snow.
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