Bitterroot Range

Bitterroot Range

Bitterroot Range, part of the Rocky Mts., on the Idaho-Mont. line. The main range, running northwest-southeast, includes Trapper Peak (10,175 ft/3,101 m high); Mt. Garfield (10,961 ft/3,341 m), in an east-running spur to the south, is the highest peak. Discovered in the 1804-5 expedition of Lewis and Clark, the rugged mountain range has long been one of the most impenetrable in the United States; except for its foothills, it remains almost completely unexploited.
This article is about the entire Bitterroot Range. For the Bitterroot Mountains, see its section below or the Bitterroot Mountains article.
The Bitterroot Range (a subrange of the Rocky Mountains) runs along the border of Montana and Idaho in the northwestern United States. The range spans an area of 62,736 square kilometers (24,223 sq mi) and is named after the bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva), a small pink flower that is the state flower of Montana.


In 1805, the Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, crossed the Bitterroot Range, first entering the Bitterroot Valley from the south via Lost Trail Pass, and then exiting to the west via Lolo Pass.

In 1805, Lewis and Clark crossed these mountains with the aid of the Nez Perce Native American tribe.


The Bitterroot Range runs from the Cabinet River Gorge (near Sandpoint, Idaho) to Monida Pass, and includes the following subranges:

Beaverhead Mountains

The Beaverhead Mountains are the southeastern-most portion of the Bitterroot Range and encompass an area of 4,532 square miles (11,738 km²). They lie to the east of the Bitterroot Mountains and lie to the west of the Big Hole Basin and the Pioneer Mountains. Passes in the mountains include Big Hole Pass, Big Hole Pass II, Junction Pass, Monida Pass, and Soudough-Muddy Pass. The Beaverheads are further subdivided into the West Big Hole Mountains, the Big Hole Divide, the Tendoy Mountains, the Italian Peaks, and the Garfield Peaks.

Bitterroot Mountains

The Bitterroot Mountains, comprised of the Northern and Central Bitterroot Ranges, are the largest portion of the Bitterroot Range and encompass an area of 4,862 square miles (12,593 km²). The mountains are bordered on the north by Lolo Creek, on the south by the Salmon River, on the east by the Bitterroot River and Valley, and on the west by the Selway and Lochsa Rivers. Its highest summit is Trapper Peak, at 10,157 feet (3,096 m).

Centennial Mountains

The Centennial Mountains encompass an area of 2,064 square miles (5,346 km²).

The Centennials are home to Brower's Spring, discovered in 1888 by Jacob V. Brower, which is believed to be the furthest point on the Missouri River. Brower published his finding in 1896 in "The Missouri: It's Utmost Source."

The site of Brower's Spring at around 8,800 feet (2,680 m) feet in the Centennials. The site now commemorated by a rock pile at the source of Hellroaring Creek which flows into Red Rock River and then into Clark Canyon Reservoir where it joins the Beaverhead River and then the Big Hole River before ultimately hooking up with the Jefferson River.

Coeur d'Alène Mountains

The Coeur d'Alène Mountains are the northwestern-most portion of the Bitterroot Range and encompass an area of 2,590 square miles (6,708 km²). The mountain range's two highest peaks are the 7,352 foot (2,241 m) Cherry Peak and the 6,837 foot (2,084 m) Patricks Knob.

Saint Joe Mountains

The Saint Joe Mountains, the smallest named portion of the Bitterroot Range, encompass an area of 698 square miles (1,808 km²). They lie between the St. Joe River on the south, the Couer d'Alène River on the north, the Slate Creek saddle on the east and the plateau of the Moscow, Idaho/Pullman, Washington area on the Idaho/Washington border.


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