The Lolo National Forest is located in western Montana, surrounds Missoula, MT and is comprised of 2,111,223 acres. There are about thirty-five developed campgrounds of which fourteen met the selection criteria.
The Lolo National Forest is a land of natural beauty, history, diverse recreation opportunities, and numerous camping locations. Stretching from the western slopes of the Continental Divide to the magnificent granite crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, Lolo National Forest has enough to do to keep even the most adventurous busy for years, making it a great place for family camping vacations.
Ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, subalpine fir, and western larch give the Lolo National Forest a patchwork quilt of varying vegetation. This variety of vegetation provides habitats for a wide diversity of wildlife. Elusive Rocky Mountain goat and bighorn sheep are found in the higher reaches of the Forest. Moose, deer, osprey, peregrine falcons, and harlequin duck are often seen by visitors to the Forest's lower elevation. More often heard than seen are the loons on the Forest's lakes.
Seeley Lake, located in the eastern portion of the Forest along State Route 83, is a favorite for the visiting loons as well as campers. One or two pairs return in late spring to mate and raise their young. While loons are not always seen, their distinctive calls, heard in the nearby campgrounds, signal that they are close. Thoreau observed the loon's call: "sound more like that of a wolf than any other bird." At the Seeley Lake campground, with its huge Tamaracks (Western larch) festooned with long drapes of Grandfather's beard lichen, the "unearthly howl" of the loon adds to this campground's charm.
The Seeley Lake area also offers the unique 3-1/2 mile Clearwater Canoe Trail. This interesting and unique trail follows the slow-moving Clearwater River into Seeley Lake. Mornings are said to be the best time to see the wildlife along the canoe trail. Osprey, bald eagles, and kingfishers soar overhead looking for their breakfast while Canadian geese, gold goldeneyes, and loons glide effortlessly across the water. Colorful warblers dart by, flitting from one willow to another. A quick eye may catch sight of beaver or muskrat before they dive for safety in their watery home. White-tail deer are a common sight but moose, mink and otter can also been seen along the Clearwater Canoe Trail.
The Lolo Scenic Highway, U.S. Route 12, climbs out of the spacious Bitterroot Valley into Idaho. This highway roughly follows the route blazed by Lewis and Clark in 1805 who, in their turn, followed the Nez Perce's "Q'u senya Iss Kit" or "trail to the buffalo country." Today, along this route, also known as the Lolo Trail, visitors can follow in the footsteps of these earlier people. From Lee Creek campground, hikers can take the Wagon Mountain Trail #300 to the Montana/Idaho state line and from there pick up the Lolo Trail. The Lolo Scenic Highway, U.S. Route 12, climbs out of the spacious Bitterroot Valley into Idaho. This highway roughly follows the route blazed by Lewis and Clark in 1805 who, in their turn, followed the Nez Perce's "Q'u senya Iss Kit" or "trail to the buffalo country." Today, along this route, also known as the Lolo Trail, visitors can follow in the footsteps of these earlier
people. From Lee Creek campground, hikers can take the Wagon Mountain Trail #300 to the Montana/Idaho state line and from there pick up the Lolo Trail. When driving Rt. 12, a good place to stop for the night is Lolo Creek campground (formerly Lewis and Clark campground). With sites nestled along a hillside in heavy woods, Lolo Creek campground offers a tranquil setting for a break from the riggers of driving.
Another method of finding a break from the challenges of hard work is fishing. It is felt by some that the best fishing places are the most out-of-the-way. This is quite true for Rock Creek which is both out-of-the-way and is a "Blue Ribbon" stream. There are four developed Lolo National Forest campgrounds along Rock Creek: Bitterroot Flat, Harry's Flat, Dalles, and Norton. While there are restrictions on Bull and Cutthroat trout, the natural abundance of Rainbow and Brown trout and Whitefish will keep most fisher persons busy and happy all day long.
The Lolo National Forest has some campgrounds relatively close to Interstate 90 (such as Cabin City and Sloway) but none are more convenient for the traveler then Quartz Flat, a most stop for RV camping enthusiasts. Located behind the Interstate's rest stop, Quartz Flat offers on and off access, good size sites, a dump station, flush toilets, and drinking water among a stand of Ponderosa pines. The Slowey campground has one very unique feature: a "horse motel." Adjacent to the campground's only pull through site, a field has been fenced off and provides an area where horses can be hobbled for the night.
For those who want to experience the Lolo National Forest first hand there are some 1,800-miles of trails open to foot and horseback travel. Many of these trails crisscross through Rattlesnake, Scapegoat, Selway-Bitterroot, and Welcome Creek Wilderness Areas. The Forest also contains eight National Recreation Trails and miles and miles of shorter day hike trails.
The Lolo National Forest is an area of shimmering lakes, rugged beauty, diverse recreation opportunities, and a long history. It is a place full of wonderful experiences, long lasting memories, and memorable sights. This Forest offers something for all who visit, time and time again.
Missoula, Montana 59804
RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES
Bldg. 24A, Fort Missoula
Missoula, Montana 59801
20325 Remount Rd.
Huson, Montana 59846
Plains, Montana 59859
HC-31, Box 3200
Seeley Lake, Montana 59868
209 W. Riverside
Superior, Montana 59872