click to enlarge Looking west into the Wahoo Creek drainage from Wahoo Pass, deep in the heart of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

Matt Gibson

Looking west into the Wahoo Creek drainage from Wahoo Pass, deep in the heart of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.

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.

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