The Bitterroot Mountains

South of Hamilton, the serrated peaks and forested foothils of the Bitterroot Mountains close in along US-93 as the valley narrows sharply and woodlands (and campgrounds) replace farmlands along the roadside. Just 17 miles south of Hamilton, the pioneer village of Darby has a couple of cafes and a helpful ranger station (406/821-3913), the best source of information on hiking in the Bitterroots. South of Darby, US-93 cuts away from the Bitterroot River at the hamlet of Sula, beyond which US-93 continues its slow climb up through seven miles of subalpine landscape to another of Montana's many pleasant resorts. Lost Trail is especially popular with cross-country skiers, who can traverse many miles of nearby trails, including the route followed by Chief Joseph and Nez Perce in 1877 while fleeing from the U.S. Cavalry.

From Lost Trail Hot Springs, US-93 climbs up to 6,995-foot Lost Trail Pass, which Lewis and Clark crossed in 1805 on their return from the impassable Snake River, and which now marks the border with Idaho. The pass also serves as a medium-sized downhill ski area.


The Big Hole National Battlefield, where 800 Nez Perce warriors, women and children were attacked by the U.S. Army on August 9, 1877, lies east of the Continental Divide, 20 miles east of Lost Trail Pass via Hwy-43.

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Modified - 12/30/97
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Don Bigelow