The Beauty of the Bitterroot
By angelamontana

Posted: February 26, 2024

For those of you not too familiar with the western side of the state, there is a slice of paradise nestled between the Bitterroot Mountains and the Sapphire Range—that’s the Bitterroot Valley for you. It’s like stepping into a postcard, with cool little towns, deep forests, and winding rivers at every turn. Yes, we know there are going to be out-of-stater comments, but it still doesn’t change how beautiful the area is…so far.

So, for those of you who are curious, here are a few facts about the Bitterroot you may not have known:

  • The Bitterroot valley was the ancestral home of the Bitterroot Salish tribe of the Flathead nation.
  • In early September 1805, the Lewis and Clark Expedition crossed Lost Trail Pass from present-day Idaho in order to connect with the overland route through the Rocky Mountains.
  • The Bitterroot Valley is known as the “Banana Belt of Montana” as the weather is far less severe than in other parts of the state.
  • They called the northern part of the Bitterroot river Spetlum or “Place of the Bitterroot,” after the pink flowering plant they sought for its bitter-tasting roots.
  • The Bitterroot valley stretches 90 miles long south of Missoula.
  • The song “Bitterroot” by the Indigo Girls is about the Bitterroot River.
  • The Bitterroot River and its watershed is mentioned extensively in Norman MacLean’s novella “A River Runs Through It”
  • The Bitterroot is a Class I river from the confluence of the East and West forks to its confluence with the Clark Fork River for public access for recreational purposes.
  • The Bitterroot River mainstem and many of its tributaries are important migratory corridors and spawning habitat for native westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. Other native fish include mountain whitefish, longnose sucker, slimy sculpin and longnose dace.
  • Rainbow trout and brown trout are popular gamefish but are not native to the Bitterroot River watershed and pose significant threats to native trout.
  • Parts of the Yellowstone TV series were filmed in the Bitterroot valley.
(Facts via,, and
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