We moved to Missoula about six years ago. I love it in the Summer but I hibernate in the winter.
With 1,340,502 acres of roadless terrain stretching from the Bitterroot mountains just south of Missoula to the Selway River in central Idaho, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness is the third-largest wilderness in the contiguous United States. Combined with the Frank Church – River of No Return Wilderness directly to the south, the Selway-Bitterroot forms part of the biggest, wildest, most remote expanse this side of Alaska.
The eastern portion of the wilderness should be familiar to anybody who's driven U.S. Highway 93 through the Bitterroot Valley and looked up at the rugged Bitterroot Mountains. Beyond the Bitterroot crest to the west, the area encompasses a vast region of heavily forested, mountainous terrain from the Lochsa and Selway river channels to their alpine headwaters high on the state line divide. According the the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation, the wilderness includes 1,490 miles of trails, more than enough for a lifetime of exploration.
Created by the Wilderness Act of 1964, the Selway-Bitterroot falls under the authority of the Bitterroot, Lolo, Clearwater, and Nez Perce national forests.
A 720-acre natural impoundment of the Clearwater River, Salmon Lake sits right alongside Montana Highway 83 just a few miles south of Seeley Lake. A state park offers public access for boaters and fishermen, as well as overnight camping.
The largest natural, freshwater lake in the western United States, Flathead Lake boasts 200 square miles of surface and over 180 miles of shoreline. One state park and several public recreation areas ring the water, making it easy to find a place to splash around or launch your boat, even if you're not one of the lucky folks with access to a lakeshore cabin.
High season starts just before the Fourth of July, when you'll find people water-skiing, sailing, fishing, SCUBA diving, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and partying down on pontoon boats. But even in July and August, midweek crowds are almost non-existent, and it's easy to find yourself alone on the water. By mid-August, most folks have packed up the kids and dragged them back to school, but the water's still warm and there's plenty of fun still to be had.
Most anglers target the pernicious population of non-native lake trout, but fishermen can also find whitefish, trout, and perch. The southern half of the lake lies within the Flathead Indian Reservation, and tribal recreation permits are required to fish or hunt.