Welcome to Big Sky Country and the land of the Nez Perce. Through a landscape steeped in tradition and history, along the trail’s northern section, you trace the steps of Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce and the Lewis and Clark expedition. Under a vast 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, the Gem State, 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 Nez Perce chief Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, ghosts of the region’s mining past, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, with its iconic Chinese Wall, a 1,000-foot winding natural escarpment.
Montana and Idaho are home to beloved mountain flora and fauna, such as 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.
What You Should Know
This far north on the Continental Divide, winter arrives early and leaves late. Trips are best planned for July to early September to avoid snow, (June is usually fine except at the highest elevations.) Long stretches of the CDT along the Idaho-Montana border traverse rolling hills along the Divide itself. The sun is strong and shade is minimal, so be sure to bring sun protection.
Permits are required for backcountry camping in Glacier National Park. The park is quite busy throughout the summer.Learn More Here
Permits are also required for anyone recreating on the Blackfeet Reservation, which includes several miles of the CDT just south of Glacier National Park. These permits become available each spring for the current year at the following link.Click Here to Apply
Every mile of the CDT in Idaho and Montana is in grizzly bear country. Travel with bear spray, make noise, keep a clean camp, and store food and other “smellables” properly. CDTC recommends bringing a bear canister or an ursack to store food, as a truly bear-proof food hang is difficult to execute. Be sure to check local bear canister requirements for the areas you plan to visit.Learn More About Bear Safety From Glacier National Park