Best of Montana in Fall: Shopping

Check out these stores for one-of-a-kind Montana-made gifts for shoppers.

Take the Red Ants Challenge, White Sulphur Spring

As far as Sarah Calhoun can determine, her Red Ants Pants company was the first in the U.S. to produce work pants specifically for women whose “office” is a ranch, farm, or other outdoor site.

“We created a functional design that could fit and flatter any woman’s body type,” says spunky and funky Calhoun, who launched her business in tiny White Sulphur Springs (population 900) in 2006. The original canvas Red Ants spawned a line that now includes 74 pant sizes, hats, and additional women’s gear. There’s also a July Red Ants Pants Foundation music festival that benefits rural female farmers and ranchers and attracts the likes of Lyle Lovett and Emmylou Harris.

Each pair of women’s pants has a single red ant sewn into the fabric somewhere, and Calhoun has issued a challenge. If you’re wearing your Red Ants and meet another woman wearing hers, check to see if your ants are in the same place. If so, snap a photo of your matching ants to win a free Red Ants Pants t-shirt.

Go to the Fly Fishermen's Source, Twin Bridges

The Twin Bridges name hints at what serious fly fishermen already know: There’s a lot of water here. Three world-class trout streams—the Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby Rivers—converge near Twin Bridges to form the Jefferson, the area’s most expansive fly-fishing river. Anglers of all abilities flock here, and the experts know to stop first at R.L. Winston Rod Co. for tips on daily fishing conditions and to see where their favorite rod was made.

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R.L. Winston (a mash-up of founders Robert Winther’s and Lew Stoner’s names) rods are considered among the world's finest. The company started in San Francisco in 1929, but is most closely associated with Twin Bridges, where it relocated in 1976 to be close to the local world-class trout fishing.

Even if you don’t fish, take the free museum and showroom tour (11 a.m. daily) for the inside look at a beloved Montana-made brand. “All of our Boron III rods, WT, LT, GVX Select, and Bamboo rods are handcrafted right here in Twin Bridges,” says R.L. Winston marketing associate Leslie Clark. “And, since most of our staff are dedicated fly fishermen, they’re happy to share their fishing knowledge with customers.”

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