Welcome to Big Sky Country and the land of the Nez Perce. Steeped in tradition and history, along the Trail’s northern section you trace the steps of Lewis and Clark and Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce. Under a giant blue sky, Montana and Idaho boast a diverse and beautiful landscape of timber-covered mountains, flowing trout streams, open prairies, rocky bluffs and canyon-carved lakes. The CDT extends for 800 miles through Big Sky Country and steps over the border into Idaho for 180 miles.
The CDT travels through some of Montana and Idaho’s most majestic and historic lands: Waterton Lake and Glacier National Park on the Canadian border, the lofty peaks of the Anaconda, Bitterroot and Beaverhead Mountains, Lemhi Pass where Lewis and Clark first set foot on the Divide, Hell Roaring Canyon, Chief Joseph Pass – named for the most famous of Nez Perce chiefs, ghosts of mining past, the untamed Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and the Chinese Wall – a 1,000 foot escarpment.
Montana and Idaho are home to the mountain goat, grizzly bear, gray wolf, bald eagle and osprey, as well as, Douglas fir, lodgepole pine, aspen, lady-slipper, buttercups, beargrass and glacier lilies.
Beaverhead-Deerlondge National Forest Supervisors Office
420 Barrett St. Dillon, MT 59725-3572 (406) 683-3900
Butte Ranger District/SO Annex
1820 Meadowlark Lane Butte, MT 59701 (406)494-2147
Wise River Ranger District
Box 100 Wise River, MT 59762 (406) 832-3178
Wisdom Ranger District
P.0. Box 238 Wisdom, MT 59761 (406) 689-3243
Madison Ranger District
5 Forest Service Road Ennis, MT 59729 (406) 682-4253
Deer Lodge Ranger District
#1 Hollenbeck Road Deer Lodge, MT 59722 (406) 846-1770
Jefferson Ranger District
3 Whitetail Road Whitehall, MT 59759 (406) 287-3223
Pintler Ranger District
P.0. Box 805 Philipsburg, MT 59858 (406) 859-3211
Flathead National Forest SO
1935 Third Ave. W. Kalispell, MT 59901 (406) 758-5200
Spotted Bear Ranger District
P.0. Box 190310 Hungry Horse, MT 59919 5/15-10/25 (406) 758-5376 winter (406) 387-3800
Gallatin National Forest SO
East Babcock Ave. Bozeman, MT 59771 (406) 587-6701
Hebgen Lake Ranger District
P.0. Box 520 West Yellowstone, MT 59758 (406) 823-6961
Helena National Forest SO
2880 – Skyway Drive Helena, MT 59601 (406) 449-5201
Lincoln Ranger District
P.0. Box 219 Lincoln, MT 59639 (406) 362-4265
Lewis and Clark National Forest SO
1101 15th St. North Great Falls, MT 59403 (406) 791-7700
Rocky Mountain Ranger District
1102 Main Ave. NW Choteau, MT 59422 (406) 446-5341
Lolo National Forest SO
Bldg. 24 Fort Missoula Missoula, MT 59804 (406) 329-3750
Seeley Lake Ranger District
P.0. Box 3200 Seeley Lake, MT 59868 (406) 677-2233
Salmon National Forest SO
Rt. 2 Box 600 Salmon, ID 83467 (208) 756-5100
North Fork Ranger District
P.0. Box 180 Hiway 93 N North Fork, ID 83466 (208) 865-2700
Leadore Ranger District
P.0. Box 180 Hiway 93S Leadore, ID 83464 (208) 768-2500
Targhee National Forest SO
P.0. Box 208 St. Anthony, ID 83445 (208) 624-3151
Dubois Ranger District
P.0. Box 46 Dubois, ID 83423 (208) 374-5422
Island Park Ranger District
HC66 P.O. Box 975 Island Park, ID 83429 (208) 558-7301
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE:
National Park Service Glacier National Park
West Glacier, MT 59936 (406) 888-7800
Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168 Yellowstone Park, WY 82190 (307) 344-7381
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT:
Butte District Office
P.0. Box 3388 Butte, MT 59702 (406) 494-5059
Salmon District Office
Route 2 Box 610 Salmon, ID 83467 (208) 756-5400
Dillon Resource Area Selway Drive Dillon, MT 59725 (406) 683-2337
State of Idaho Dept. of Parks and Recreation
Statehouse Mail P.O. Box 83720 Boise, ID 83720-0065 (208) 334-4199
State of Montana Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks
P.0. Box 200701 Helena, MT 59620 (406) 444-3750
Canada Waterton Lakes Park Superintendent
Waterton Lake, Alberta Canada TOK 2MO (403) 859-2224
The summer season of the Continental Divide is a short one, generally lasting from early June to mid-September. The trail’s accessibility is mostly a function of the amount of snow that fell the preceding winter. Snow continues to fall in May and June. Here’s a generalized look at the Montana/Idaho CDT from south to north: From the Island Park area near Yellowstone, through the Henrys Lake Mountains and most of the Centennials, snowfall is heavy. You’ll find snow on trails do not melt until July 4th or later. From Monida Pass to Goldstone Pass you’ll find lesser amounts of snow, so this section can be accessed by mid-June. From Goldstone Pass to Big Hole Pass the trail receives heavy snowfall and snow lingers until mid-July, and sometimes later. Big Hole Pass to Schultz Saddle may open by late June, but some passes north of there in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness do not clear until mid-July, and sometimes later. East of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, the CDT curves like a scythe as it goes around Butte, Montana, mostly through lower elevation mountain ranges. This section can be hiked by mid-June if you don’t mind crossing infrequent snowfields. Most of the area north of Lowland Campground, in the Boulder Mountains, is clear of snow by late June all the way to Black Mountain below Stemple Pass. The exception is the CDT near the ghost town of Leadville and near Thunderbolt Mountain. They will not be clear of snow until early to mid-July. From Black Mountain northward, including Rogers Pass, the Scapegoat Wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and Glacier National Park, you can encounter snow any time of the year.
Most trails are clear by mid-July. However, in Glacier National Park one can traverse old snowfields in September. You will need an ice axe and the ability to self-arrest if you hike through Glacier National Park in June. Gentler segments, with good road access, may be traversed with snowshoes or backcountry skis from November to March or April. Avalanche dangers are extreme along most of the CDT, so winter enthusiasts may want to limit their excursions to officially designated cross-country ski trails.
Usually high or low snowfall will affect trail conditions and the dates that trails melt out. The Forest Service monitors the snow pack, so a quick call to the right district can help you plan. Be prepared for snow and freezing cold, even in the height of summer. Nighttime temperatures during the summer routinely dip into the low 30s, so make sure your sleeping bag can handle freezing conditions.
- US Post Office: General Delivery PO Box 9998 ; 34 Dawson Ave East Glacier, MT 59434-9998
- US Post Office: General Delivery 103 1st St. NW Choteau, MT 59422
- Benchmark Wilderness Ranch: Benchmark Rd# 1 Augusta, MT 59410 or C/O Benchmark Wilderness Ranch PO Box 190 Augusta, MT 59410
- US Post Office: General Delivery 129 Main St. Augusta, MT 59410
- US Post Office: General Delivery 237 Main Street ; P.O. Box 9998 Lincoln, MT 59439
- US Post Office: General Delivery Hwy 12 West Elliston, MT 59728
- US Post Office: General Delivery 700 Peat St Lima, MT 59739
- US Post Office: General Delivery 2300 N. Harris St Helena, MT 59601
- US Post Office: General Delivery 701 Dewey Blvd Butte, MT 59701
- US Post Office: General Delivery Hwy 43 Wise River, MT 59762
- US Post Office: General Delivery Anaconda, MT 59761
- US Post Office: General Delivery Hwy 43 Wisdom, MT 59761
- US Post Office: General Delivery 1 Jardine St. Jackson, MT 59739
- US Post Office: General Delivery 209 Grizzly Bear Loop, West Yellowstone, MT 59758
- US Post Office: General Delivery Salmon, ID 83467
- US Post Office: General Delivery Hwy 28 Tendoy, ID 83468
- US Post Office: General Delivery Hwy 28 Leadore, ID 83464
- US Post Office: General Delivery P.O. Bo x9998 Lima ID 59739-9998
- US Post Office: General Delivery Big Springs Road, Macks Inn, ID 83429
Montana/Idaho Access Points (from North to South)
Glacier National Park: Glacier preserves over 1,000,000 acres of forests, alpine meadows, and lakes. Its diverse habitats are home to over 70 species of mammals and over 260 species of birds. The spectacular glaciated landscape is a hikers paradise containing 700 miles of maintained trails that lead deep into one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states. http://www.nps.gov/glac/
Total: 134.25 Miles
Elevation Gain: 18975.00
Swiftcurrent Pass TH- From Babb, MT- located 11 miles south of the Canadian border on US Hwy 89. From Babb travel West on Glacier Route Three 12 miles to Swiftcurrent Campground. From Swiftcurrent hikers can access the western route of the CDT heading North towards WatertonLake and the Canadian Border. Hikers that would like to take the alternate route, traveling east of the Divide and the Canadian Border at Chief Mountain, can access the Apikuni Trailhead- located 11 miles from Babb on Glacier Route Three near SwiftcurrentFalls.
St. Mary Falls- From St. Mary, MT-located 32 miles north of Browning on US Hwy 89, travel west on Glacier Route One/Going-to-the Sun Road 11.5 miles to signs for the St.MaryFalls. Hikers can access the CDT here by hiking south on Many Falls Trail to link with Piegan Pass Trail to the North and St. Mary Lake Trail to the South.
East Glacier Park- From East Glacier, MT- located at the intersection of US Hwy 2 & US Hwy 49, from US 49 travel west on Midvale Creek Road to Clark Drive. Clark Drive will lead to Park boundary and access to the CDT.
Mount Henry Fire tower- http://www.firetower.org/listings/us346.html
“The Garden Wall”
Bishop’s Cap Glacier
Feather Plume Falls- http://www.nps.gov/glac/gallery/082501.htm
Dawn Mist Falls- http://www.nps.gov/glac/video/video.htm
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex
Bob Marshall Wilderness, Scapegoat Wilderness, Great Bear Wilderness:
Lewis and ClarkNational Forest:
The Lewis and ClarkNational Forest is one of ten national forests in Northern Region lies in central and north central Montana within the upper Missouri River system. National Forests are ‘AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS’ here to serve the American people at work and play! Recreation opportunities in the Lewis and ClarkNational Forest’s 1.8 million acres are as varied as the landscape and elevation of the forest itself. The elevation ranges from 4,500 to 9,362 feet at the top of RockyMountainPeak in the Rocky Mountains. Forest landscapes range from broad prairies to rugged ridges and mountain peaks. Beautiful grassy parks and mountain meadows are surrounded by forests of Douglas fir and lodgepole pine. http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/lewisclark/
Stretching along the west side of the continental divide from the US Canadian border south approximately 120 miles lies the 2.3 million acre FlatheadNational Forest. The landscape is built from block fault mountain ranges sculpted by glaciers, and covered with a rich thick forest. By providing abundant recreation and a wealth of natural resources, the Flathead is a perfect place to relax and enjoy your National Forests! http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/flathead/
Total Miles: 187.90
Marias Pass- Located on US Hwy 2-travel to the Summit Campground near the Roosevelt Memorial to access the CDT. North-bound hikers will be entering the southern portion of GlacierNational Park at this point and are required to get multi-day use permits from the Two Medicine Ranger Station off located on US Hwy 25.
Badger Pass-(info coming soon)
Benchmark/South Fork T.H.- From Augusta, MT- located on US Hwy 287, travel 17 miles west towards Nilan Reservoir on Ranger Station Road. At the intersection of Road 235, travel southwest 18 miles on Road 235 to South Fork Trailhead.
Roger Pass- Located on US Hwy 200, 64 miles west of Great Falls, MT.
Elk/Calf Mtn.-sacred to Blackfeet Indians
Helena National Forest: The HelenaNational Forest offers close to one million acres of diverse landscapes and wildland opportunities. Located in west central Montana. The Helena boasts some of the most vivid glimpses into the past of this historically-rich area. The Forest is sprinkled with history from native American inhabitants to early explorers to the booming days of gold mining. The natural beauty of the HelenaNational Forest is complemented by outstanding opportunities for fishing the Blackfoot and MissouriRivers, hiking along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and viewing magnificent big game in the 129,000-acre Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit. http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/helena/
Total Miles: 65.30
Elevation Gain: 12077
Stemple Pass- From US Hwy 287/MT 15 Helena- travel north 22 miles on MT 279 to Wilborn. From Wilborn travel west 8.5 miles following VirginiaCreek to StemplePass.
Dana Spring- From Avon, MT- located 30 miles west of Helena on MT 12, travel north 3 miles on Hwy 141 to Forest Road 136. From Forest Road 136 travel 10 miles East to DanaSprings.
MacDonald Pass- From Hwy 12 in Helena, travel west 15.5 miles to MacDonaldPass.
Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest: This largest of the national forests in Montana covers 3.32 million acres, and lies in eight southwest Montana counties (Granite, Powell, Jefferson, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Madison, Gallatin and Beaverhead). Forest Service offices administering the National Forest are in Butte, Dillon, Philipsburg, Deer Lodge, Whitehall, Boulder, Ennis, Sheridan, WiseRiver, Wisdom, and Lima. The forest provides timber, minerals, and grazing lands. It also offers breath-taking scenery for a wide variety of recreational pursuits. Whether it’s wilderness trekking in the Anaconda-Pintler or Lee Metcalf wildernesses, driving the Gravelly Range Road or Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway, or camping in one of the 50 small to medium-sized campgrounds in the forest, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge has it all. http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/bdnf/
Beaverhead Deer Lodge National Forest CDT Site http://www.fs.fed.us/r1/bdnf/cdnst.htm
Salmon-Challis National Forest: The Salmon-ChallisNational Forest covers over 4.3 million acres in east-central Idaho. Included within the boundaries of the Forest is 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church– River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the Continental United States. Rugged and remote, this country offers adventure, solitude and breathtaking scenery. The Forest also contains Borah Peak, Idaho’s tallest peak, the Wild & Scenic Salmon. River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The area is a highly desired destination for hunting, fishing, white-water rafting and many other popular recreational pursuits. http://www.fs.fed.us/r4/sc/
BLM Salmon Field Office http://www.id.blm.gov/offices/salmon/
Total CDT Miles: 542
Elevation Gain: 48667.00
Access Points :
Homestake Pass- From Butte, MT travel East 7.2 miles to HomestakePass
Chief Joseph Pass: Beaverhead Mtns.- From Dillon, MT- travel north 40 miles on Hwy 15 to the town of Divide and intersection of Hwy 43. Travel West on Hwy 43, 75 miles to Chief Joseph Pass.
Lemhi Pass- From Salmon, ID –travel South 21 miles on Hwy 28 to the town of Tendoy. From Tendoy, travel west 11 miles on the Lewis & Clark National Backcountry Byway towards the Sacajawea Memorial and LemhiPass.
Bannock Pass- From Salmon, ID- travel South 47 miles on Hwy 28 to the town of Leadore. From Leadore travel East 11 miles on Hwy 29 to BannockPass.
Targhee Pass- From Idaho Falls, ID- travel North 57 miles on US Hwy 20. Hwy 20 is then marked as Hwy 20 or Hwy 18. Continue on Hwy 20/18 north 47 miles to TargheePass. Hikers can also access RaynoldsPass at the junction of Hwy 20/18 and Hwy 87, travel north on Hwy 87, 11 miles to RaynoldsPass.
MONTANA AND IDAHO PUBLIC LANDS INFORMATION
With its snow-covered mountain peaks and internationally known “blue ribbon” trout streams, the Gallatin National Forest is a popular recreation area in Montana. Established in 1899, the Gallatin is part of the Greater Yellowstone Area, the largest intact ecosystem in the continental U.S. This 1.8-million acre Forest spans six mountain ranges and includes two Congressionally-designated Wilderness areas, the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wildernesses. The Forest provides habitat for a full complement of native fauna, including four federally listed threatened species – the grizzly bear, gray wolf, bald eagle, and the Canada lynx. Come and explore this marvelous treasure and discover, for yourself, all that it has to offer.
BLM Dillon Field Office – The Centennial Mountains
The Centennials form both the Continental Divide and the Idaho/Montana border for 62 miles, from Monida Pass at I-15 to Red Rock Pass east of Yellowstone National Park. The range, 12 miles wide in places, begins as a series of high rolling ridges that gradually gain in elevation as one moves to the east. On its eastern end, the range climbs abruptly out of the forested Island Park Caldera to form a high rugged crest that reaches its highest elevation at 10,203 feet on Mount Jefferson.
The Caribou-Targhee National Forest, situated next to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, is home to a diverse number of wildlife and fish, including Threatened and Endangered species, wilderness, scenic panoramas and intensively managed forestlands. The Forest lays almost entirely within “the Greater Yellowstone Area” or “the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” an area of over 12 million acres and the largest remaining block of relatively undisturbed plant and animal habitat in the contiguous U.S.. The area continues to gain prominence for its ecological integrity. The United Nations has identified the area as a Biosphere Reserve.
The 3.3-million-acre Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest stretches from near Missoula to near Yellowstone National Park, and from near Helena to the Idaho border. The Continental Divide snakes through the forest and along part of its boundary. The forest includes the Anaconda-Pintler and Lee Metcalf wilderness areas. Within the forest are open valleys bisected by isolated high mountain ranges. Even the valley bottoms are about 4,500 feet in elevation, while many of the peaks exceed 11,000 feet. Although this was one of the first areas settled by pioneers in Montana, it remains wild, remote and undiscovered by tourists.
The Salmon-Challis National Forest covers over 4.3 million acres, and included within the boundaries of the Forest is 1.3 million acres of the Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness Area, the largest wilderness area in the Continental U.S. Rugged and remote, this country offers adventure, solitude and breathtaking scenery. The Forest also contains Borah Peak, Idaho’s tallest peak, the Wild & Scenic Salmon River and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. The area is a highly desired destination for hunting, fishing, white-water rafting and many other popular recreational pursuits.
The 1.6 million acre Bitterroot National Forest begins above the foothills of the Bitterroot River Valley in two mountain ranges—the Bitterroot Mountains on the west and the Sapphire Mountains on the east side of the valley. In the drier valley floor and lower foothills there is an arid-lands mix of grasslands, shrublands, and ponderosa pine that borders cottonwood forest along rivers and streams. On grassland ecosystems, wildlife and domestic livestock share forage. These rangelands provide benefits like wildlife habitats and recreation. Mid-elevations receive more moisture and are habitat for stands of Douglas fir, lodgepole pine and western larch. Higher elevations produce Engelmann spruce, subalpine fir, subalpine larch and whitebark pine.
United States Congress designated the 158,600 acre Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness in 1964. Straddling the Continental Divide in the Anaconda Range, it has it all in terms of mountain grandeur, whether that entails high and rugged peaks, cirques, U-shaped valleys, or glacier moraines. Sparkling lakes and tumbling streams fed by icy water running off snowfields above the timberline enhance the beauty and offer excellent fishing for species of trout, three of char, mountain whitefish, and artic grayling.
Black bears, moose, elk, deer, and mountain goats call this area home. Elevations range from about 5,100 feet to 10,793 feet on West Goat Peak, with sagebrush and willow flats in the lower elevations rising to forest of pine, fir, and spruce and eventually to aspen, pine, fir and larch. The highest slopes are often bare talus with vegetation limited to lichens.
The Helena National Forest surrounds Montana’s Capital City (Helena) and offers close to one million acres of distinctive landscapes. The Continental Divide parts the Helena National Forest in half. To the west, vast canyons and limestone peaks foster a collection of timber and sub-alpine fir, embracing meadows, and blue, blue skies. This is Montana’s untamed country. On the eastern side, sage and pine decorate the gentler Big Belt Mountains.
The Lewis and Clark National Forest lies in central and north central Montana within the upper Missouri River system. Landscapes range from broad prairies to rugged ridges and mountain peaks. Forests of Douglas fir and lodgepole pine surround beautiful grassy parks and mountain meadows.
The 2.4 million acre Flathead National Forest is 89% forestland and 11% non-forest or water and 46% is in a reserved designation such as Wilderness. All of the major landforms are structurally controlled with most of the mountain ranges being formed by block faults. Glaciations from the last ice age influenced the shape of the land as well as the composition of the soil.
Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex Bob Marshall, Great Bear and Scapegoat Wildernesses
Congress designated the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area as part of the original Wilderness Act of 1964 and it now encompasses over 1.5 million acres. Within this complex are three wildernesses: Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear. Here is one of the most completely preserved mountain ecosystems in the world, the kind of Wilderness most people can only imagine: rugged peaks, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, grassy meadows embellished with shimmering streams, a towering coniferous forest, and big river valleys.
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is the last holdout habitat south of Canada for the grizzly bear and provides critical habitat to the endangered gray wolves as well. Elk, whitetail and mule deer, Canadian lynx, bobcats, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bears, wolverines and cougars also make their home in the Bob, along with smaller animals such as beaver, river otters, snowshoe hares and marten.
Glacier preserves over 1,000,000 acres of forests, alpine meadows, and lakes. Its diverse habitats are home to over 70 species of mammals and over 260 species of birds. The spectacular glaciated landscape is a hikers paradise containing 700 miles of maintained trails that lead deep into one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states. The park contains over 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and six National Historic Landmarks. And, in 1932 Glacier and Waterton Lakes National Park, in Canada, were designated Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. This designation celebrates the longstanding peace and friendship between our two nations. Glacier and Waterton Lakes have both been designated as Biosphere Reserves and together were recognized, in 1995, as a World Heritage Site. Glacier National Park is home to the CDT’s northern terminus along the picturesque shores of Waterton Lake.