Winter in the Bitterroot National Forest

Winter is a great time to visit the Bitterroot National Forest.  From the thrill of downhill skiing and snowmobiling, to the quiet solitude of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, there is something for everyone.   Get away with family or friends and enjoy an experience from yesteryear.  Rent a rustic cabin nestled deep in the forest or hike through the snow to find that perfect Christmas tree.  Read below for more outdoor ideas and always be prepared for cold weather and snow.  The National Forest is mountainous terrain and snowy conditions can start as early as October and last until April or May. Refer to the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation for current advisories and resources to help assess the risk in avalanche terrain at missoulaavalanche.org.

Christmas Tree Permits

Cutting your own Christmas tree is a special holiday outing available to those who live near National Forest Lands.  There’s an abundant choice of trees and species on the Bitterroot National Forest.  In order to remove a Christmas tree from the National Forest, you need to have a Christmas tree permit. They may be purchased for $5 beginning Tuesday, November 12th at any Forest Service office or at area retailers.  Permits are for personal use only and limited to three per family. 

Downhill Skiing

Lost Trail Powder Mountain, located near Sula, Montana, operates under a Special Use Permit on the Bitterroot National Forest. With over 300 inches of snow annually, Lost Trail consistently enjoys the greatest snow depth of any Montana ski resort.  Lost Trail offers opportunities for both the alpine skier and snowboard enthusiast.  For more information or snow conditions contact Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski area at 406-821-3211 or www.losttrail.com

Nearby Cross Country Ski Trails

Chief Joseph Pass Cross Country Ski Trails are located off of Hwy 43 on Chief Joseph Pass on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. These trails are maintained by volunteers from the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club. The ski club grooms 24 kilometers of cross country trails for classic and skate skiing.  For more information or snow conditions visit www.bitterrootxcskiclub.net.

Como Trails Cross Country Ski Area offers about 20 miles of trail located on roads 550, 550A, and 13201 out of the boat ramp parking lot at Como Lake.  The multi-use Como Ski Trails will be groomed by the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club again this winter.

Snowmobile Activities

Snowmobiling continues to increase in popularity as more people discover the enjoyment of motorized winter recreation. The fabulous winter scenery of the Bitterroot National Forest is accessible to people of all ages who enjoy the pleasure of snowmobile travel.  Please remember that snowmobiling is not allowed in any designated Wilderness Areas. The Forest travel plan designates 2,246 miles of forest roads and trails open to motorized use.  It also permits motorized over-snow use (snowmobiles) on 543,840 acres, approximately one-third of the Forest.  These areas are designated on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) and Over-Snow Vehicle Use Map (OSVUM) now available free of charge at all Bitterroot National Forest offices.  The maps identify which areas are open to motorized use, the types of vehicles allowed and any seasonal restrictions that apply.

The Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club grooms the snowmobile trails up Skalkaho, Skalkaho-Rye Creek road, and Lost Horse road.   For more information about area snowmobile clubs visit https://www.snowmobilemt.org/.

Cabin Rentals

Woods Cabin

For the first time, the historic Wood’s Cabin at Lake Como is available for the public to rent during fall and winter months.  The cabin built in 1928 is located on the north shore of Lake Como.  It features large windows and a deck overlooking the lake and nearby mountains.  Wood’s Cabin has 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, and large living room.  It sleeps up to 12 people and rents for $60 per night.  There is no drinking water available and the woodshed at the cabin will be stocked with firewood.  Also, the road to the cabin is not plowed, so you may have to park at the boat launch and walk across the dam to reach the cabin.  Lake Como is a beautiful setting in the wintertime and is popular with cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and ice fishermen.  

East Fork Guard Station

This structure was built prior to 1914 and used as a guard station in the summertime by the fireguards. The East Fork Guard Station is approximately 50 miles southeast of Hamilton, MT located near Sula, MT.  The Guard Station features a 16’ x 24’ one room log cabin. The cabin is equipped with a wood burning stove for heating and a four-burner propane stove/oven for cooking.  During the winter months, the road is plowed to the cabin, but there is always the possibility that the road isn’t plowed on occasion – we recommend contacting the Darby Ranger Station for updates on the road prior to arrival.

Twogood Cabin

Winter-time dates of availability - December 1st - 31st

Twogood Cabin is a rustic cabin located on Porcupine Creek, five air miles southwest of Sula, MT.  The structure was built as a range line cabin in 1952 and utilized as such into the 1970's.  This one room log cabin measures 15'x19' with a steep pitched roof.   The cabin is equipped with a wood burning stove for heating, 2 two-burner propane cooktops and 2 propane lanterns (propane not provided).  During the winter months the road is usually plowed to Warm Springs Campground. From here winter visitors must x-country ski or snowshoe approximately 9 mi. to the cabin on an un-groomed trail..  

For more information about these cabins or to make reservations please visit www.Recreation.gov or call toll free 1-877-444-6777.

Visit a Wilderness Area

Anaconda Pintler Wilderness

AP Lake pictureThe Bitterroot National Forest manages 41,000 acres of the 158,516-acre Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness.  There are 280 miles of hiking and stock trails throughout the wilderness.  The AP Wilderness is made of rugged mountains saddling the Continental Divide and is located in southwestern Montana approximately 22 miles west of Anaconda, Montana, or 14 miles east of Sula, Montana. It is known for its high, rugged, and beautiful mountain scenery where mountain goats make their home.  Elevations range from 5,100 feet in the lower reaches to 10,793 feet on West Goat Peak.  To find out more information click here.

Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness

FCRNR Wilderness river pictureRanking as the second largest Wilderness in the National Wilderness Preservation System is only one of the many attributes of which the Frank Church-River of No Return can boast. Its namesake, Frank Church (Senator and lawyer) played a major role in passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and in the creation of the River of No Return Wilderness in 1980. The treacherous waters of the Main Salmon River slice through a chasm deeper than the Grand Canyon - hence its moniker as the River of No Return. The Bitterroot National Forest manages 194,000 acres of the 2.4 million acre Frank Church Wilderness.  There are 2405 miles of hiking and stock trails throughout the wilderness.  Portions of this 2.4 million acre Wilderness are located on four different national forests—the Bitterroot, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Payette, and Salmon-Challis.  To find out more information click here.

Selway Bitterroot Wilderness

SBW Packstring pictureThe Bitterroot National Forest manages 508,000 of the 1.3 million acres Selway Bitterroot Wilderness (SBW).  Throughout the wilderness there are 1,800 miles of hiking and stock trails.  The Bitterroot Mountains form a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana. On both sides of this border is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. Only the 600 foot wide Nez Perce Trail (the Magruder Corridor), an unimproved dirt road, separates the Selway-Bitterroot from the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce, with Ponderosa Pine dominating open grassy slopes along the rivers.  To find out more information click here.

 





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