Insight into the West

Mike Roths (pronounced Roats) and his wife Jo, owners of Bear Paw Designs, live in the heart of the scenic Bitterroot Valley of western Montana near Stevensville. Bear Paw operates out of a 4500 square foot shop at the base of the mountains, shadowed by St. Mary's Peak. The smell of cherry wood and the sounds of country western music greet customers as they arrive at the shop.

His love for art and the mystery behind the historic west have influenced Mike to apply his artistic abilities into truly unique pieces of furniture. He has a genuine love and appreciation for the history of ghost towns, gunfighters, trappers, and the best of the Old West.

Attention to detail, old world craftsmanship, with dovetail, mortise and tenon joinery, insure that Roths’ designs will be around for future generations to enjoy. While Mike uses all sorts of hardwoods including oak, walnut, and antique barnwood, cherry is still his favorite. Mike has been designing and building fine Western furniture since 1979. With so years of woodworking experience behind him, Roths is quick to point out that the success of Bear Paw Designs is due to God’s blessings.

Each piece of furniture starts as a drawing and careful attention is given to detail and functionality. Mike’s work has been exhibited at the Western Design Conference in Cody, Wyoming since 2003. He recently was honored to receive the “Switchback Ranch Purchase Award.” His winning piece is now on permanent display in the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody (


The Legend of Bear Paw

Roths was raised on a farm in central Iowa. Always having been intrigued by bears, he decided while a junior in high school to carve out bear tracks from basswood and have a little fun. Fastening the bear tracks to his boots and with the help of his later to be wife Jo, they set out to create tracks in a wooded area north of Vinton, Iowa, where fishermen commonly frequented. Wanting to just get a reaction from the local fishermen with the bear tracks in the sand, they found their tracks on TV, radio and front page of the local paper. “Experts” were called in to study the tracks and to create plaster castings. Bears are not found in Iowa and created quite a stir. Hence, the Bear Paw name was founded. To this day, Mike is known as “Bear Paw” in his hometown.



2005 - Western Design Conference
Best Artist, Historical Craftsmanship

2005 - Western Design Conference
Exhibitor's Choice

2006 - Western Design Conference
Switchback Ranch Purchase Award

2012 - Western Design Conference
Honorable Mention