Bitterroot Mountains

Bitterroot Mountains

The Bitterroot Mountains, a portion of the Rocky Mountains, are probably the best known peaks of the Bitterroot Range—this range, Montana’s largest, runs along most of the border between Montana and Idaho.

There is often some confusion when referring to the Bitterroot Range, which many believe includes only the peaks between Lolo and Lost Trail Passes.  In truth, the Bitterroot Range includes mountains along the Montana-Idaho border from Cabinet Gorge on the north end to Red Rock Pass at the south end.  These included mountains are (north to south), the Bitterroot Mountains, the Beaverhead Mountains, and the Centennial Mountains.

The Bitterroot Mountains, with long arduous approaches to major peaks, are some of the most impenetrable in the United States.  Except for some areas in the foothills, the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which encompasses these peaks, remains mostly unexploited.

The most rugged peaks in the Bitterroots, those between Lolo and Lost Trail Passes, are often referred to as the Montana Alps or, by some locals, “The Roots.”  Despite approaches measuring up to 20 miles in length, the glacier-swept horns, ridges, and high cirques attract many of the world’s most dedicated climbers to the windswept granite peaks.

The Bitterroot Mountains are extremely popular with people seeking outdoor recreation.  From one-pitch trad, sport, and top-rope climbs in Kootenai Canyon, bouldering near Lost Horse, multi-pitch big wall aid climbs in Blodgett and Mill Creek Canyons, plus mountaineering and hiking on the high peaks and ridges, the “Root” provides unlimited opportunities.  One could spend a lifetime among the peaks between the Lolo and Lost Trail Passes and not run out of new and interesting things to see and do.


  1. Tim Sharp

    I remember a well respected and accomplished climber from somewhere back east who called the Bitterroots “underwhelming”, his unfortunate (for him) comment sparked a conversation online that led to some really great friendships and real fellowship in conserving and preserving the mountains we love. That is the story of how we met, and in a way, I am grateful to that fellows comment (he received a rousing whoop down online, for sure) for it introduced our band of Bitterroot Mountain admirers to each other! And then Bob (to his great credit) took a second look, and changed his tune more than just a bit, after our chorus!

    Although our original group has been diminished by natural selection and migration, it has great potential to grow ever larger and stronger through efforts like yours Mike! I will join you in singing the praises of these remarkable mountains whenever and wherever I am able.

    The cause is noble and critical, and I applaud the remarkable effort you have expended to call all of our attention to preservation of wilderness.


  2. Michael

    Thanks, Tim. Your comments brought back some great memories of our first meeting and initial adventures together in the Bitterroots. I continue to admire your backcountry abilities and ethics!

Leave a Reply