Visit the Communities of the Bitterroot Valley
More Northwest Montana
The principal thoroughfare is US Highway 93, a major route that runs from its northern extremity at the US and Canadian border to its southern extremity in southwest Arizona. The route follows the Bitterroot River, the dominant natural feature within the valley, and connects the cities and towns of the valley much as the river did when those settlements were first established in the late 1800's.
A secondary highway, which is much less busy and thus provides a more leisurely route for the sightseeing traveler, is the East Side Highway (MT 269) between Stevensville and Hamilton. This route presents better views of the Bitterroot Mountains as well as offering a more relaxing drive.
Surrounding the valley, much like the claw of a crab, is the Bitterroot National Forest which carpets the two mountain ranges on either side of the valley and connects and closes in upon the narrowing valley at its south end.
The lower Bitterroot Valley, that part from Missoula to Hamilton, is wider, flatter and more open and is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited area of Montana. Watch for old homesteads and solitary apple trees that mark the locations of what were once extensive orchards. Today, these lands are giving way to subdivisions that signal the growth and popularity of this beautiful valley.
Driving US 93 from Missoula, the traveler to Hamilton will see miles of highway lined with construction yards sporting new log houses in all sizes and stages of construction. Perhaps it's the rugged outdoor flavor of these soon-to-be homes, the beautiful valley, and the promise of realized dreams that has prompted growth so rampant that some say it could turn the lower Bitterroot Valley into the kind of congestion that many had hoped to leave behind.
The upper Bitterroot Valley, from Hamilton to Lost Trail Pass at the Idaho border, grows more narrow as you travel south as the mountain slopes and forest close in on the highway to form the apex of the valley.
Each of these communities lies within close proximity to the Bitterroot River and within the shadows of the towering mountain ranges that rise on either side of the valley. To the east are the Sapphire Mountains; lightly forested, drier and more rounded as compared to the neighboring range to the west, the Bitterroot Mountains. The Bitterroots present a formidable barrier to westward penetration in that they are heavily forested, with rockier and steeper peaks and deep craggy canyons.
The Kootenai, Nez Perce, Salish and other Native American tribes, often traveled or lived in the valley from time to time. The valley also was on the route chosen by the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805-06 and was along the path taken by the non-treaty Nez Perce during the Nez Perce War of 1877.
Today, the valley, its communities and the surrounding mountains and forests offer an abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities including camping, fishing, hiking, backpacking, horse pack trips, and hunting. The valley is peppered with bed and breakfast accommodations, campgrounds, ranches, guides and outfitters.
Ravalli Republic. 232 W. Main, Hamilton, Montana 59840. Phone: 406-363-3300.
Best selection of books on the Northwest.
Moon Montana, 8th Edition (Moon Handbooks) by Judy Jewell and Bill McRae. This book journeys from Yellowstone to the eastern prairies, highlighting the best of the Big Sky Country. Whether it's cross-country skiing at Glacier National Park or observing elk at Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge this book has all the information needed. Order now...
Scenic Routes & Byways Montana, 3rd Edition by S. A. Snyder. Explore scenic byways and backroads, trails, beautiful areas, ghost towns, hot springs and glaciers. This book provides itineraries, route maps, detailed descriptions of attractions plus many more tips and trips. Order now...
Montana Off the Beaten Path, 8th Edition: A Guide to Unique Places by Michael McCoy. This guide, different from regular guide books, uncovers hidden and unique attractions plus unusual locals in the Treasure State. Discover a different side of Montana. Order now...
Benchmark Montana Road & Recreation Atlas by Benchmark Maps. Large-scale Landscape MapsTM and a complete 30-page Recreation Guide make it the ideal planning tool for any outdoor adventure. Benchmark field-checkers drove thousands of miles to make sure the Montana Road & Recreation Atlas is the most accurate and reliable map product. Order now...
Northwest Montana Fire Lookouts...A Hiking Guide by Steve Rains, Blake Passmore, Lynne Rains and Calab Rains. This guide takes the hiker to 30 lookouts expanding over 6 mountain ranges. Get details on trailhead directions, routes, safety and photographs. For more info see http://letshikemontana.com Order now...
Great Places: Montana: A Recreational Guide to Montana's Public Lands and Historical Places for Birding, Hiking, Photography, Fishing, Hunting by Chuck Robbins. Recreational guide to Montana's public lands and historical places. There are maps and photos and a contact list with web sites, addresses and phone numbers of all of the public areas. Also a complete bird list for all of Montana. Order now...
Go Northwest!® gonorthwest.com (tm)
gonorthwest.com (tm) and GoNorthwest.com (tm) are trademarks of Go
All original text, maps, photographs, and other images on this web site, as well as the compilation and design thereof, are
Copyright © 1997-2013 Go Northwest, LLC. All rights reserved.