FLATHEAD NATIONAL FOREST
This enormous National Forest stretches south and west of Glacier National Park, in northwest Montana. It’s a magnificent area of high snowy peaks and ridges, deep canyon gorges, and small glaciers. Elevations range from 4,000 feet to 9,820-foot McDonald Peak.
The three-forked Flathead National Wild and Scenic River is here. There are also many lakes, streams with waterfalls, alpine meadows, and forests of fir, spruce, larch, and pine. Wildlife includes grizzly and black bear, elk, deer, mountain goat, and gray wolf.
This National Forest has three designated wilderness areas: the 285,700-acre Great Bear Wilderness, the 73,877-acre Mission Mountain Wilderness, and a large portion of the 1,009,356-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana’s largest, which continues on into Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Activities: Over 2,100 miles of trails are available for backpacking and hiking. Difficulty varies from easy to strenuous. Of special interest is the
15,000-acre Jewel Basin Hiking Area, which is open only to foot travel. Horseback riding is permitted on many other trails.
White-water rafting, canoeing, and kayaking are possible on some of the rivers. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are winter options in the region. Mountain biking is allowed outside of designated wilderness areas. Fishing is also available, and hunting is permitted in season.
Camping Regulations: Camping is allowed throughout the National Forest, except near public use areas or where otherwise prohibited. No permits are required. Campfires are normally acceptable, but they’re subject to restriction during periods of fire hazard.
For Further Information: Flathead National Forest, 1935 Third Avenue East, Kalispell, MT 59901; (406)755-5401.