Bitterroot National Forest straddles Idaho and Montana, and it includes both forested areas and grasslands. The land is part of the ancestral home of the Bitterroot Salish (SEH-lish) tribe, and the Nez Perce (nes PURS) tribe often passed through to gather plants and hunt. But after gold was discovered in the area in the 1860s, the U.S. government pushed these people onto a small piece of land nearby. As more settlers moved in, the forest was cut down for logging and mining, so the government created the reserve to protect it in 1897. Today, the U.S. Forest Service consults with these tribes and others when making decisions about the land.
The wolverine is one of the region's most elusive residents. Rarely seen by humans, this animal usually roams the forest at night in search of rabbits, squirrels, and other small mammals to eat. Whitetail deer, black bears, elk, and bighorn sheep also live in the area.
The wildflowers in these woods are pretty, well, wild. For instance, the forest features chocolate lilies. These plants are the color of cocoa, but they give off a rotten smell to attract flies that pollinate them. Another bloom you can find in this region is nicknamed the “pink fairy” and has petals shaped like elk horns. Perhaps the area’s most famous flower is the bitterroot, a pink, bitter-tasting plant that the forest was named for.
Natural wonders aren’t Bitterroot National Forest’s only attractions. Visitors can drop by the site's historic lookout towers. Mostly built in the mid-1900s, these window-lined cabins were once used by people whose job was to monitor the area for wildfires. You can even camp out in the cabins, taking in stellar views of the night sky. With all its cool features, this is a five-star forest.