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Ravalli County, Montana facts for kids

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Ravalli County
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall in Stevensville, Montana.
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Hall in Stevensville, Montana.
Map of Montana highlighting Ravalli County
Location within the U.S. state of Montana
Map of the United States highlighting Montana
Montana's location within the U.S.
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Country  United States
State  Montana
Founded March 3, 1893
Named for Antonio Ravalli
Seat Hamilton
Largest city Hamilton
 • Total 2,400 sq mi (6,000 km2)
 • Land 2,391 sq mi (6,190 km2)
 • Water 9.4 sq mi (24 km2)  0.4%
 • Total 40,212
 • Estimate 
 • Density 16.8/sq mi (6.47/km2)
Time zone UTC−7 (Mountain)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Congressional district At-large
  • Montana county number 13

Ravalli County is a county in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Montana. As of the 2010 United States Census, the population was 40,212. Its county seat is Hamilton.

Ravalli County is part of a north–south mountain valley bordered by the Sapphire Mountains on the East and the Bitterroot Mountains on the West. It is often referred to as the Bitterroot Valley, which is named for the Bitterroot Flower. The county is on the Pacific Ocean side of the Continental Divide, which follows the Idaho-Montana border from Wyoming until Ravalli County. Here, it turns east into Montana, between Chief Joseph Pass and Lost Trail Pass, and follows the Ravalli County-Beaverhead County border.


Ravalli County was once home to the Bitterroot Salish tribe. The tribe was first encountered in 1805 by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which noted the friendly nature of the tribe. The Catholic Church took interest in creating a mission in the area, and in 1841, Stevensville was founded. In 1891, the Salish tribe was relocated to the current Flathead Reservation under the Treaty of Hellgate.

In 1877, Chief Joseph and his Wallowa band of Nez Perce passed through Ravalli County in their attempt to escape confinement to a reservation; they were captured en route to Canada just south of Havre.

Ravalli County was created by the Montana Legislature on March 3, 1893. It is named after the Italian Jesuit priest Antony Ravalli, who arrived in the Bitterroot Valley in 1845.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 2,400 square miles (6,200 km2), of which 2,391 square miles (6,190 km2) is land and 9.4 square miles (24 km2) (0.4%) is water.

Major highways

  • US 93.svg U.S. Highway 93
  • MT-38.svg Montana Highway 38

Adjacent counties

National protected areas


Historical population
Census Pop.
1900 7,822
1910 11,666 49.1%
1920 10,098 −13.4%
1930 10,315 2.1%
1940 12,478 21.0%
1950 13,101 5.0%
1960 12,341 −5.8%
1970 14,409 16.8%
1980 22,493 56.1%
1990 25,010 11.2%
2000 36,070 44.2%
2010 40,212 11.5%
2020 (est.) 45,002 11.9%
US Decennial Census
1790-1960 1900-1990
1990-2000 2010-2020

2010 census

As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 40,212 people, 16,933 households, and 11,380 families in the county. The population density was 16.8 inhabitants per square mile (6.5/km2). There were 19,583 housing units at an average density of 8.2 per square mile (3.2/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 95.9% white, 0.9% American Indian, 0.5% Asian, 0.2% black or African American, 0.1% Pacific islander, 0.6% from other races, and 1.9% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 3.0% of the population. In terms of ancestry, 28.8% were German, 17.4% were English, 15.9% were Irish, 8.3% were American, 5.7% were Italian, and 5.5% were Norwegian.

Of the 16,933 households, 26.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 7.7% had a female householder with no husband present, 32.8% were non-families, and 27.1% of all households were made up of individuals. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.83. The median age was 46.0 years.

The median income for a household in the county was $43,000 and the median income for a family was $53,004. Males had a median income of $42,065 versus $27,629 for females. The per capita income for the county was $23,908. About 9.6% of families and 15.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.




Census-designated places

Unincorporated communities


Agriculture and timber form the bulk of Ravalli County economic activity. Marcus Daly, one of three Butte copper kings, funded logging operations in the Bitterroot Valley. The lumber was necessary for the Butte copper operation. Recently, more of Ravalli County's economy stems from tourism. The valley borders the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and offers a wide variety of wildlife, including some of the few remaining wolverine and wolf populations in the contiguous states. The Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski area is at Lost Trail Pass on the Idaho border on US-93.

Notable person

  • Henry L. Myers, Ravalli County prosecuting attorney, U.S. Senator from Montana
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