click to enlarge Oreamnos Lake and West Pintler Peak in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area

Oreamnos Lake and West Pintler Peak in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area

The Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness takes its name from both the Anaconda Copper Company, which dominated life in Montana for much of the 20th century, and homesteaders Charles and Katie Pintler, who settled along Pintler Creek in 1885.

The Wilderness's 158,615 acres straddle the Continental Divide and are jointly managed by the Beaverhead-Deer Lodge and Bitterroot national forests. Sixty miles of the 3,100 mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail cross the Anaconda-Pintler.

Elevations in the wilderness range from 5,100 to 10,793 feet. West and East Goat Peaks, Warren Peak, Mount Evans, and Fish Peak, among other 10,000-foot-plus peaks, are considered climbable without technical equipment. Mountain goats and bighorn sheep are common in the wilderness, which is also home to black bears, rare grizzlies, moose, elk, mule deer, wolves, and wolverines.

Hiking trails are extensive. Mort Arkava's book Hiking the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness traces 48 routes. Be aware that water can remain frozen and snow remain a threat in the high backcountry even in mid-summer.

Also be aware that with so much mega-profile Montana backcountry available in Yellowstone and Glacier national parks, the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness—splitting the distance between those two tourist magnets and relatively remote from Montana's urban centers—is little used. The opportunities for solitude are spectacular.

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