Lolo National Forest Environment

The two-million-acre Lolo National Forest (NF) in west central Montana is one of ten national forests in Montana. Created in 1906, the Lolo NF now includes former national forests originally named the "Cabinet," "Hell Gate,""Missoula," and "Selway" National Forests.

Located west of the continental divide, the Lolo NF is influenced by both continental and maritime climates. These climates provide for a wide range of environmental gradients producing a forest of high diversity. Diverse ecosystems range from wet, western redcedar bottoms to high alpine peaks, and forests of alpine larch and whitebark pine.

photo of a purple flower with a white spider on one of its petals.
Purple pasqueflower

These diverse ecosystems are home for 17 conifer and 5 hardwood tree species, over 300 bird species, at least 20 fish species, over 60 mammal species and an estimated 1,500 plant species, including 250 non-native plant species. Within the Lolo NF, are record-sized trees, the Montana Champion ponderosa pine located in the Fish Creek drainage and a national co-champion western larch near Seeley Lake.

Elevation ranges from less than 2,400 ft. on the Clark Fork River below Thompson Falls to many peaks over 7,000 ft. and topping out at over 9,000 ft. at Lolo Peak near the town of Lolo and Ptarmigan Point near Seeley Lake. The highest point is Scapegoat Mountain within the Scapegoat Wilderness.

Water is plentiful within the Lolo NF producing over 100 named lakes and nearly 1,000 named streams including five major rivers.