The Bitterroot Mountains form a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana. On both sides of this border is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. Only the 600 foot wide Nez Perce Trail (the Magruder Corridor), an unimproved dirt road, separates the Selway-Bitterroot from the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and spruce, with Ponderosa Pine dominating open grassy slopes along the rivers. Few humans visit the huge trailless portions of this Wilderness, which makes it all the more appealing for the Selway elk herd, plus abundant deer, moose, black bears, mountain lions, and wolves. Approximately 1,800 miles of trails wind through the area providing access to both the Montana and Idaho sides of the mountains, but many trails in the area are unmaintained and rugged. Travel by foot and stock can be challenging, but rewarding, in the heart of this large wild area. Mostly within the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Wild and Scenic Selway River rushes out of the mountains of Idaho and is joined by flows from the Moose Creek drainage and lower down the Lochsa River. The Selway is a premier whitewater river offering a wild, remote, and self-reliant river experience.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.
Central Idaho Wilderness Act - Public law 96-312 (7/23/1980) To designate certain public lands in central Idaho as the River of No Return Wilderness, to designate a segment of the Salmon River as a component of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and for other purposes
Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act - Public law 113-136 (7/25/2014) To authorize the continued use of certain water diversions located on National Forest System land in the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness and the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness in the State of Idaho, and for other purposes.