Dirty Shame Saloon: Brian D’Ambrosio Visits Legendary Montana Saloon

The remote Yaak River Valley, occupying the northwest tip of Montana, is home to the quiet settlement of Yaak, a tiny oasis of ruggedness set amid a dense brush of timber. An astonishing 175,000 acres remain roadless in the sequestered area near the Canadian border. Driving within its boundaries is an awesome escapade, as amazing splendor abounds: mountains, forests, the little village of Yaak, the roaring falls, and the relatively undisturbed wildlife. Rough and isolated can truly describe the region. In fact, powerful Kootenai Falls was the filming locale for the movie “The River Wild”.

dirty saloon

dirty saloon

The town is situated along Highway 508, 30 miles northeast of US 2 (starting 3 ½ miles southeast of the point where US 2 crisscrosses the Montana-Idaho state line). Road trippers who enjoy checking out places seen or frequented by relatively few travelers should not miss venturing into the Yaak River country. Not many places remain in the contiguous forty-eight states can claim to be more off the untrodden path than this remote valley in the extreme northwest corner of the Big Sky State. The Yaak is primarily owned by the Forest Service with only a minute fraction of land owned by home and business owners.

Yaak River drains a large segment of the Purcell Mountains, a range overflowing with ancient coniferous forests and modern clear-cuts. “The Yaak”, as locals refer to it, is quintessential rural Montana backwater, a private community which has attracted a diverse mix of hippies, artists and writers, ardent Second Amendment advocates, tree huggers, loggers, and wallflowers. So, don’t be surprised at the eclecticism of the patrons you will be rubbing elbows with.

The Dirty Shame has all the required national domestics on tap and a decent selection of Montana beers in the cooler. The bar can also oblige those with even Montana-sized appetites, offering a bistro-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu. Food specialties at the Dirty Shame include chicken teriyaki, grilled albacore tuna, pastrami Reuben, and the famous Dirty Shame Burger, which comes with potato salad, coleslaw or chips and salsa. Other house lunch favorites: tomato bisque with garlic bread and grilled cheese.

The Yaak offers an excellent and exciting respite from the smoke and soot of city environs. Luddites rejoice: cell phones don’t work in the Yaak and internet access is still primarily dial-up. The Dirty Shame Saloon’s phone number is (406) 295-5439.

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