Scenic Driving

View of the Sula Basin from the Bitterroot- Big Hole RoadThere are many scenic driving opportunities to be found on the Bitterroot National Forest.  A few of the more popular drives are listed here.

Skalkaho Falls - Skalkaho Falls is located along Skalkaho Highway (MT-38), in between Hamilton and Phillipsburg. 3 miles south of Hamilton, turn left on MT-38/Skalkaho High-way and continue another 22 miles. The falls will be located on your left. Skalkaho Falls is located in the Sapphire Mountains within Bitterroot National Forest. The water of Skalkaho Creek cascades down over 150 feet, providing impressive views and great photo opportunities. Most accessible during late spring through early autumn. Travel on Skalkaho Highway is slow due to narrow curves and limited pull-outs. During winter, only the first 10 miles of the road is plowed for automobiles.

Trapper Peak Vista Point located on the Darby Ranger District.  To reach this vista head south from Darby, MT for 4.3 miles.  Turn southwest (right) onto West Fork Rd and follow for 6.4 miles.  Turn west (right) onto Trapper Main Road and follow for approximately 2.8 miles.  Turn south (left) onto forest road #5627 and follow approximately 2 miles to the end of the road and the vista.  From the Trapper Peak Vista Point one can look across the canyon and see Trapper Peak rise up over 6000 feet above Trapper Creek.   At an elevation of 10,157 feet it is the highest point in the Bitterroot Valley and offers spectacular views.

Lost Horse Observation Point – From Hamilton drive south for approximately 8 miles, turn right (west) on Lost Horse Rd. #429, travel about 2.0 miles, turn right (north) on Forest Road #496. Continue on road #496 for about 6.5 miles until you arrive at junction 496B, turn left (south) for .03 miles to Lost Horse Observation Point. Lost Horse Observation Point is an undeveloped site. For a short walk of about 100 feet from Forest Service Road #496B you will be rewarded by outstanding views of the Bitterroot Mountains and the main Lost Horse Drainage. Be sure to have your camera for breath-taking photo opportunities. The road is narrow with switchbacks. It is also rocky and bumpy. Sedans are not recommended

Click on the Scenic Driving Opportunities on the Bitterroot National Forest brochure for more popular drives on the Forest.

A note about Road Access.  Every road on the Forest is designed to serve many uses. You may encounter restrictive barriers or signs on some roads and trails that will be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Wildlife Protection--The Forest Service and the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks cooperate to protect big game from disturbance on summer and winter ranges, or during elk calving season. 
  • Watershed  Protection--Some roads and trails must be restricted during wet weather to prevent surface damage and to protect nearby watersheds.  Sediment reaching streams is a serious threat to fish. 
  • Legal Mandates--Areas like wilderness have special protection by federal law.  It is unlawful to operate any mechanized/motorized vehicles within a classified wilderness. 

Follow and enjoy the open roads as they incite you to new adventures, but heed the closed road signs and go exploring on foot.  

Areas & Activities