Camping In The Bitterroot Valley

Of Western Montana

Bitterroot Valley Real Estate

Approaching Bryan Lake we could see the crystal blue of the water reflecting the granite cliffs perfectly on its glassy surface.

The wildflowers bloomed around the shores and somewhere across the water a fish jumped.

We set up camp near the head of the lake, erecting our tent in a small grassy meadow surrounded by alpine shrubs. We filtered our drinking water form the small stream that fed the lake. The afternoon was spent casting flies in the shallow water around the edge of the lake and many a small rainbow trout took us up on our offering.  The night was clear with the brightest of stars, and silent but for the sound of wind rustling the trees.

Bryan Lake sits high in the Bear Creek Drainage, west of Victor. The trail is clearly marked. And as peaceful as the lake is, late during the second night, we did get a thunderstorm through the basin and the thunder shattered the silence over and over, like a big bass drum. Lightning danced on the rocks way overhead and rain came down in wild sheets. This world, a few miles away from civilization, is anything but tame.

Living in the Bitterroot Valley provides us quick access to this unique world that is still natural and untrammeled by man. It’s not always easy.  Some of the trails on the west side of the valley can be very difficult, but the challenge is part of the reward.

Camping in the Bitterroot Valley and surrounding mountains can range from the backpacking trips to RV and car camping. The Forest Service has several campgrounds appropriate for RVs and tents: Lake Como, Blodgett and Rombo being three of the more popular campgrounds. These campgrounds have designated fire rings, campsites and toilets. They also charge a nominal fee.

Camping is of course allowed almost anywhere on the National Forest, but campers must take responsibility for their camps. During the late summer, campfires are often outlawed on the forest due to fire danger. When campfires are allowed, making sure they are out cold and drowned before moving on is essential.

Also take the extra time to make sure all the trash is picked up and when camping in the wilderness.  If you pack it in, pack it out.  Remember the old adage, “ Take nothing with you but memories and leave nothing behind but footprints.”

From the river to the lake, there’s always a great opportunity to do some paddling.


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