Places to Visit: Bitterroot Mountains

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Bitterroot Mountains

Plan to take a side trip to the Bitterroot Mountains when visiting West Yellowstone, Montana, so you can enjoy the rugged mountains and deep canyons of this recreational paradise.

  • Don’t miss the rugged mountains and deep canyons of the Bitterroot Mountains
  • Not far from West Yellowstone and a place not to be missed
  • Have a picnic at the base of Trapper Peak
  • Fish the East Fork of the Bitterroot River
  • Discover the Lewis and Clark Trail

Overview

The picturesque Bitterroot Mountains in southwestern Montana are home to vast mountainous peaks, glacial valleys and beautiful canyons, which all provide an opportunity to experience outdoor recreation at its best in some wild untamed areas.

Seasons

The Bitterroot Mountains are accessible throughout the year.

Fees/Cost

There is no fee to enter or traverse the Bitterroot Mountains. Camping fees range from $4-14 a night depending on the campground.

Highlights

Lewis and Clark traveled a trail through the Bitterroot Mountains and faced some of their hardest tests, and the Nez Perce tribe found refuge here from the U.S. Army as they made their way to Canada.

Now, the Bitterroots have become a place where tourists and vacationers come to learn about the American West past, and also to engage in unlimited opportunities for great outdoor recreation.

The highest peak in the Bitterroot Mountains is Trapper Peak at 10,157 feet. This is a great place to watch wildlife, have a picnic at the base or go fishing.

Fishing
Fishing is also great on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River, with a number of pools and flats as well as channels. The West Fork is also a prime area to cast in a line, as well as the numerous fishable streams and rivers nearby.

Painted Rock State Park
A wonderful weekend of camping and boating await you at the Painted Rock State Park and its pristine reservoir. This remote spot is ideal for some relaxation and fresh air.

Lewis and Clark Trail
If you are a history buff, you can discover where the Lewis and Clark Trail runs and trek some of the same path. There is a wide array of hiking trails through the Bitterroot Mountains.

Winter
In winter, you can enjoy snowmobiling, snowshoeing and sledding. Travel over to Lost Trail Powder Mountain for skiing and mingling with other like-minded individuals.

Getting Here

To get to West Yellowstone from the Bitterroot Mountains, start out in Darby, Montana and travel on US 93 until you come to MT 43. Follow that to MT 278 and take the I-15 North to exit 63. It’s a scenic drive on MT 41, to US 287, which takes you to US 191 right into West Yellowstone. This 4-hour and 18-minute drive is well worth the trip for not only the scenery but also all the sights you have waiting for you at the end.

Questions & Answers

Other Bitterroot Mountains Resources

Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition

The Southwest Montana Climbers Coalition is designed to educate and improve relations between climbers and land owners/managers. The organization strives to preserve climbing access to areas while abiding by area regulations.