The stunning Bitterroot Valley extends nearly 100 miles south from Missoula into Lost Trail Pass on the Montana – Idaho border. The entire Valley is lined with mountains on either side - to the west is the Bitterroot Range and the large Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area; to the east you will find the smaller Sapphire Mountains and the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Area. On the west side of the valley are numerous deeply-carved granite canyons, such as the scenic Blodgett Canyon and Bass Creek Canyon. Trapper Peak is the highest point in the “Bitterroots,” at more than 10,150 ft. in elevation and provides a dramatic punctuation to the southern end of this valley. Highway 93 is the major north-south highway running through the center of Bitterroot Valley, offering some of the America’s most scenic highway vistas.
The wide mostly flat valley bottom is known for its fertility and relatively moderate climate and supports a number of ranches and farms that work hard to feed local Montanans. Along the length of the valley, the Bitterroot River ripples and curves, offering blue ribbon fishing, as well as float trips in the summer months. The terrain of the Bitterroot Valley changes considerably between the northern and southern portions. The northern end of the Valley is quite flat and open. It is considerably wider than the southern portion with beautiful panoramic views overlooking hay fields and towns, all with beautiful mountain backdrops. The southern end of the valley narrows and is barely five miles wide. The Bitterroot River splits into the East and West Forks and you have more trees and close-up views of mountains, rock formations and wildlife.
The first settled community in the valley sprung to life when St. Mary’s Mission was established in 1841 and followed shortly by Fort Owen—around 1850. This early establishment quickly evolved into what is now the vibrant community of Stevensville. Soon after, other early settlements began to spring up and down the valley located about a day’s horseback ride apart. These settlements have all evolved into friendly, little communities that are unique centers for outdoor recreation, festivals, and high quality living. From north to south and starting with our own community, you will find:
- Lolo, home of Travelers’ Rest Montana State Park, the Lolo Square Dance Center, Lolo Hot Springs, and one of the area’s best Mexican restaurants, Heraldo’s and the best steak in all of Montana at Lolo Creek Steak House
- Florence, location of one of our favorite Italian Restaurants, Caffé Firenze
- Stevensville, Montana’s oldest European settlement celebrates its agricultural heritage each year with the Northwest Honey Fest
- Victor, where they annually celebrate their namesake, Chief “Plenty of Horses” Victor
- Corvallis, home of the Teller Wildlife Refuge
- Hamilton, a bustling little city that boasts one of the nation’s leading research labs, the Rocky Mountain Laboratories
- Darby, know for it logging history which they celebrate every year during Logger Days
- Conner and Sula both serve as gateways to Lost Trail Pass, one of Montana’s favorite places for both downhill and cross county skiing, and Lost Trail Hot Springs.