DescriptionBitterroot National Forest is in Montana and Idaho. The Montana section curves around the headwaters of the Bitterroot River, reaching into the Sapphire and Bitterroot ranges. This is a region of strong contrasts, with rolling subalpine woodland, open parks and lakes, and jagged, glaciated peaks and canyons.
The national forest takes its name from the bitterroot plant, whose pink flowers carpet the valleys and foothills from late April to July. Meriwether Lewis, on his journey through the region, added the bitterroot flower to his botanical collection and sampled the meal that the Native Americans ground from its root. A British botanist later honored Lewis' contribution by using his name as the basis of the flower's Latin name, Lewisia rediviva.
As one of the first forest reserves, Bitterroot National Forest also is the site of the nation's oldest surviving ranger station, built in Alta in 1899. The forest's Idaho portion encompasses the headwaters of the Selway River and a stretch of the Salmon River. Both rivers are components of the National Wild and Scenic River system. Portions of the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness occupy about half of the forest's 1.6 million acres. For further information contact Bitterroot National Forest, 1801 N. First St., Hamilton, MT 59840; phone (406) 363-7100.