About the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness


The Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness (SBW) is 1.3 million acres in size - one of the largest wildernesses in the contiguous United States. The SBW straddles the Bitterroot mountain range along the Idaho and Montana border. It includes large parts of the Lochsa and Selway River drainages in Idaho and a portion of the western Bitterroot River drainage in Montana. Elevations range from 1,600 feet above sea level on the Selway River to over 10,000 feet on Trapper Peak.  About 38 percent of this wilderness is on the Bitterroot Forest. This portion is readily accessible from local roads along U.S. Highway 93 and the road following the Nez Perce Fork of the Bitterroot River.  More detailed information is available from Ranger District offices in Stevensville, Darby, and West Fork. 

The SBW has outstanding opportunities to test your outdoor skills in a remote and rugged backcountry. There are thousands of miles of trails but many of them are not regularly maintained. You should be prepared for difficult terrain, unpredictable weather, high stream and river crossings, and a physically demanding trip. The rewards are many and the risks are real - plan your trip and be prepared!

Trailheads are located off major highways - US Highway 12 along the Lochsa River in Idaho and US Highway 93 south of Missoula, Montana. Other trailheads can be reached from secondary and Forest Service roads. Snow and road conditions are not always predictable. Contact a Forest Service office in the area where you will be traveling for current road and trail conditions.

Permits are not required to use the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. Generally, groups are limited to 20 persons and 20 stock, but there are some areas with smaller group limits. All visitors are expected to know and use Leave No Trace camping and traveling techniques for stock and backpacking. Stock users are required to have certified weed- seed-free feed. Contact a Forest Service office before your visit to get information on any fire, camping, group size, or grazing restrictions.

Permits are required to float the Selway River from May 15 through July 31 from the Paradise launch site to Selway Falls.  For river information and applications contact the West Fork Ranger District

Information about hunting and fishing in the SBW can be obtained from the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, 1540 Warner Avenue, Lewiston, ID 83501, 208/799-5010 or the Montana Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, 3201 Spurgin Road, Missoula, MT 59801, 406/542-5500.