Road Maintenance in Kalispell MT

Real Estate Broker/Owner with 406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® RRE-BRO-LIC-75443

Buyers of land in the Kalispell and Flathead Valley areas of Montana must research the road maintenance status of any property they wish to purchase. Unlike other areas of the United States, it would be incorrect to assume roads are maintained by the town, county or state, or that they are maintained at all.  


When looking for Montana land to purchase, it's important to know what kind of road the property borders. The choices are city/town, county, or private (with or without an Home Owners Association).


The following identifies the differences each of those road types presents in terms of road maintenance.  


City streets

If you are looking for a parcel of land which happens to be in the city of Kalispell, the Kalispell Public Works department is responsible for maintaining roads and taking care of snow removal. They are also responsible for fixing bridges and the like. So if you are considering a purchase on one of the city streets, the good news is you will not have to maintain the road yourself.


Please note that snow removal is done on a priority basis with first, second, third and "other" priority streets. First and second are plowed in that order, then "other" streets are only plowed within 48 hours of the end of snowfall. They are also only plowed if snowfall totals reach three or more inches. That means that even on city streets, driving in the winter often requires patience and extra stopping time.


Also of note, alleys are only plowed in order for the City to service garbage containers and other Kalispell utilities. If you happen to own a garage that is accessible through an alley you'll need to clear your way yourself.


Finally, sand and salt is used sparingly, so there is often ice on the roads. Caution is required.  


County Roads

If the parcel of land you are interested in is on a county road, you are also in luck in terms of not having to plow your way out. The Flathead County Road and Bridge Department takes care of all county roads.


That being said, they are responsible for maintaining 1,200 miles of roads so they do not make multiple passes. On my specific county road during the snowy/icy season, they typically plow and perhaps sand portions of my road once a day in the late morning. They don't come on Sundays and typically don't come on Saturdays either. So if there's a snowstorm on a Saturday night, you'll need to wait until Monday at the earliest for snow removal. Road Maintenance in Kalispell MT picture of county road in winter


Also, Flathead County does not practice a "Bare Pavement" snow/ice removal process. That means they will remove snow and make the road as safe as possible, but often times pavement and/or gravel will not be visible. And any sanding only goes on hills, curves, bridges and at intersections.


Another road maintenance item to keep in mind are mailboxes. Mailboxes are an encroachment on county right-of-ways and the Road Department is not responsible for damage done to them. You must make sure as a home owner that your mailbox is at least 3' from the edge of the driving surface of the road.


Also, home owners cannot plow from their driveway or private road across a county road. If someone is hurt in an accident because of this practice, the person doing the plowing will be held accountable for damages.


Finally, gravel roads in the area become very dusty in the summer when the dry and hot weather starts. The Road and Bridge Department's website provides names and numbers of dust abatement contractors that can be called to treat the roads, for a fee. That is not handled by the county.


Bottom line with county roads, they are maintained, but property owners need to understand they will have mornings where they'll either need to stay home, or will have to get used to driving on snow and ice covered roads.  


Private Roads, HOA

In some of the more rural areas of Kalispell, properties are located beyond the city and county roads. These private roads are often gravel covered. If the roads are part of a subdivision, they often have a road maintenance agreement in place. Maintenance typically costs a few hundred dollars a year for each home owner. The fee usually covers plowing and perhaps road treatments (sand) when needed. In fact, if you drive around the outskirts of Kalispell you may see cans or bins situated along the road. That is where the sand may be stored during the winter season. In these areas, there may be a specific company or land owner responsible for the actual plowing, but all the details should be covered in the appropriate HOA agreement.  


Private Roads, no HOA

And then there are the really rural roads. No covenants, HOAs, maintenance agreements, or anything else in place. If you are considering purchasing land on a road like this, you must be aware of what that means.


In terms of Winter roads, it means you will have to figure out a way to get out of not only your driveway, but the road itself. Many of these roads are many miles long. You may need to purchase a heavy duty plow and take care of clearing the road yourself. Or perhaps you'll need to lease parking at the end of the road and use a snowmobile to get back and forth on occasion. You may just stock up on goodies and only make rare trips into town in the bad weather months. Or you might just take a deep breath, throw a shovel in the back of the truck, and head on out.


Wintertime is not the only part of the year with road challenges. In the Spring, when melting snow and rain can turn roads into mud channels, you'll need to figure out how to get out then as well.  



The benefit of living on a city or county road in Kalispell is that you do not need to plow or maintain the road yourself. The benefit of living on a more rural road includes privacy and all the nature that kind of area provides. But more rural areas also give you the responsibility for taking care of the road. You may need to ensure you can afford the monthly maintenance or you may need to budget for hiring someone to plow. Alternatively, you might need resources to allow you to purchase a new truck or equipment. In addition, if you're moving to this area from somewhere else, you're going to have to learn to drive differently. You may wish to purchase studded winter tires or learn how to use chains when needed. Bottom line, while roads can be challenging in back weather, it's all a small price to pay to be able to live in the most beautiful place on earth. :-)


If you would like any more information about the Kalispell area, or about purchasing property here, feel free to call me, Kat, at 406-270-3667. Or email me at    


Originally published at


Comments (27)

Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Great information about snow removal, and I loved hearing that Kathy Streib had to dredge the docks.  Enjoy the weekend, we got unexpected bits of rain today, and a tsunami watch, which got canceled, a few hours ago.  A

Jan 15, 2022 04:40 PM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Kat, great information on your roads in and around Kalispell.    We have LOTS of road construction going on right now too.

Jan 15, 2022 04:54 PM
Raymond Henson, eXp Realty
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

There is sure a lot to know about the roads if you are a new buyer in your area.  They better call you for your expertise!

Jan 15, 2022 06:15 PM
Brian England
Arizona Focus Realty - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That is a different kind of road maintenance than I see in my area but there is always something going on with the roads.

Jan 16, 2022 04:29 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Kat. Most people have no clue about private roads and road maintenance agreements. Surprise, surprise! Enjoy your day 

Jan 16, 2022 04:38 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Kat - it is good to educate buyers on this and especially if they are considering buying a parcel in the middle of the summer.  You will need to invest in some trucks and plows.  I understand that snow plows are also brutal on transmissions.

Jan 16, 2022 04:57 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I'm glad the tsunami watch was cancelled Ron and Alexandra Seigel - phew!

Joan Cox - they schedule our road construction for Spring - Fall. No construction is going on now!

Thank you Raymond Henson, eXp Realty !

Good thing, Brian England - we need to get around!

Wayne Martin - I was surprised to see there were roads with no maintenance plans in place at all!

Jan 16, 2022 04:59 AM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Kat - as Kathy Streib commented, you continue to open doors for answers about Kalispell land for sale questions that may not always be readily apparent.  

Jan 16, 2022 04:59 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

That may be Grant Schneider - we use the old truck we drove across country (it has 250K miles on it) for the plowing. We want that to last as long as possible!

Jan 16, 2022 04:59 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

What a terrific explanation of how road maintenance "works" in Kalispell. We have differences here, too, and it's an important part of a home buyer's homework to know what is covered and what is not.

Jan 16, 2022 06:54 AM
Ed Silva
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

Whie there may be a lot of advantages of living in the wild it does have it's draw backs and if one is not set with the 4-wheel drive or a plow, be prepared to wait

Jan 16, 2022 09:20 AM
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

This is vital information to know! Kat Palmiotti you know what's really important when buyers buy and sellers sell. I highly recommend you to all buyers relocating to Montana. You lived it, learned, and loved it all!

Jan 17, 2022 05:24 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Exactly, Nina Hollander, Broker - home buyers need to know what they do/don't have to take care of.

Ed Silva - yes, we have both but still have to wait at times!

Thank you Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP - I do love it all! :-)

Jan 17, 2022 06:09 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker

Kat Palmiotti this issue of roads is now a disclosure item on the NC Property Disclosure form... way too many nasty surprises for home buyers after the fact because they didn't know the status of roads.

Jan 17, 2022 06:40 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

This is good information to share. We have another snowy morning in Maryland and are thankful for the snow removal services in our community.

Jan 17, 2022 07:07 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Michael Jacobs - thank you! I learned a lot when I moved here, things that weren't apparent to me at the time...

Thank you Roy Kelley - I'm glad the snow is being removed so people can get around safely!


Jan 17, 2022 08:58 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

That is pretty much what the road maintenance is here Kat. Happy Tuesday my friend 🙂

Jan 18, 2022 09:57 AM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Kat loved your post great advice, now in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles the developer/ home builder is responsible now to widen the roads... forget maintenance .....Endre

Jan 19, 2022 11:43 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS - Thank you very much (a few days late!)

Endre Barath, Jr. - Really! I bet that adds a lot of cost to any build.

Jan 20, 2022 05:11 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Kat Palmiotti - When I took the test for my license, I wondered when I would ever use all this crazy stuff.  Well, you learn fast when you are dealing with rural areas that you will see everything that you went over in your exam.  It takes an expert to know be able to advise and consult their buyer or seller on rural property...and that includes the roads! You are the person to call for Montana property expertise.

Jan 20, 2022 11:32 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Thank you so much for your kind words, Sheri Sperry - MCNE® !

Jan 20, 2022 12:06 PM