Winter is a great time to visit the Bitterroot National Forest.
From the thrill of downhill skiing and snowmobiling, to the quiet solitude of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, there is something for everyone.
Get away with family or friends and enjoy an experience from yesteryear. Rent a rustic cabin nestled deep in the forest or hike through the snow to find that perfect Christmas tree.
Always be prepared for cold weather and snow. The Bitterroot National Forest is mountainous terrain and snowy conditions can start as early as October and last until April or May.
Refer to the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation for current advisories and resources to help assess the risk in avalanche terrain https://missoulaavalanche.org/.
Christmas Tree Permits
Cutting your own Christmas tree is a special holiday outing available to those who live near National Forest Lands. There’s an abundant choice of trees and species on the Bitterroot National Forest.
In order to remove a Christmas tree from the National Forest, you need to have a Christmas tree permit. They may be purchased for $5 beginning Tuesday, November 12th at any Forest Service office or at area retailers. Permits are for personal use only and limited to three per family.
Lost Trail Powder Mountain, located near Sula, Montana, operates under a Special Use Permit on the Bitterroot National Forest. With over 300 inches of snow annually, Lost Trail consistently enjoys the greatest snow depth of any Montana ski resort.
Lost Trail offers opportunities for both the alpine skier and snowboard enthusiast. For more information or snow conditions contact Lost Trail Powder Mountain ski area at 406-821-3211 or www.losttrail.com
Nearby Cross Country Ski Trails
Chief Joseph Pass Cross Country Ski Trails are located off of Hwy 43 on Chief Joseph Pass on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. These trails are maintained by volunteers from the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club. The ski club grooms 24 kilometers of cross country trails for classic skiing and skate skiing. For more information or snow conditions visit www.bitterrootxcskiclub.net.
Como Trails Cross Country Ski Area offers about 20 miles of trail located on roads 550, 550A, and 13201 out of the boat ramp parking lot at Como Lake. The multi-use Como Ski Trails will be groomed by the Bitterroot Cross Country Ski Club again this winter.
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Snowmobiling continues to increase in popularity as more people discover the enjoyment of motorized winter recreation. The fabulous winter scenery of the Bitterroot National Forest is accessible to people of all ages who enjoy the pleasure of snowmobile travel.
Please remember that snowmobiling is not allowed in any designated Wilderness Areas.
The Forest travel plan designates 2,246 miles of forest roads and trails open to motorized use. It also permits motorized over-snow use (snowmobiles) on 543,840 acres, approximately one-third of the Forest.
These areas are designated on a Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) and Over-Snow Vehicle Use Map (OSVUM) now available free of charge at all Bitterroot National Forest offices. The maps identify which areas are open to motorized use, the types of vehicles allowed and any seasonal restrictions that apply.
The Bitterroot Ridge Runners Snowmobile Club grooms the snowmobile trails up Skalkaho, Skalkaho-Rye Creek road, and Lost Horse road. For more information about area snowmobile clubs visit www.ridgerunners.org or https://www.snowmobilemt.org/
The historic Wood’s Cabin at Lake Como is available for the public to rent during fall and winter months. The cabin built in 1928 is located on the north shore of Lake Como. It features large windows and a deck overlooking the lake and nearby mountains.
Wood’s Cabin has 3 bedrooms, kitchen, dining room, and large living room. It sleeps up to 12 people and rents for $60 per night.
There is no drinking water available in the winter months and the woodshed at the cabin will be stocked with firewood. Also, the road to the cabin is not plowed, so you may have to park at the boat launch and walk across the dam to reach the cabin. Lake Como is a beautiful setting in the wintertime and is popular with cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and ice fishermen.
The East Fork Guard Station was built prior to 1914 and used as a guard station in the summertime by the fireguards. The East Fork Guard Station is approximately 50 miles southeast of Hamilton, located near Sula. The Guard Station features a 16’ x 24’ one room log cabin.
The cabin is equipped with a wood burning stove for heating and a four-burner propane stove/oven for cooking. During the winter months, the road is plowed to the cabin, but there is always the possibility that the road isn’t plowed on occasion – we recommend contacting the Darby Station for updates on the road prior to arrival.
Twogood Cabin is a rustic cabin located on Porcupine Creek, five air miles southwest of Sula. The structure was built as a range line cabin in 1952 and utilized as such into the 1970's. This one room log cabin measures 15'x19' with a steep pitched roof.
The cabin is equipped with a wood burning stove for heating, two two-burner propane cooktops and 2 propane lanterns (propane not provided). During the winter months the road is usually plowed just beyond Warm Springs Campground. From here winter visitors must x-country ski or snowshoe approximately 9 mi. to the cabin on an un-groomed trail.
For more information about these cabins or to make reservations please visit www.recreation.gov or call toll free 1-877-444-6777.
Please contact any of the Bitterroot National Forest offices for current updates or road conditions: Stevensville Ranger District—406-777-5461; Hamilton Supervisor’s Office—406-363-7100; Darby Ranger District—406-821-3913; West Fork Ranger District—406-821-3269