The Mountains of Montana
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The Mountains in Montana
The Pioneer Mountains
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The Pioneer Mountains are found in Southwest Montana and are not heavily visited by people from outside of Montana. They lie in a remote location of Montana, with the town of Wisdom on its western flank and the towns of Dillon and Melrose on its eastern side. Although significant wild lands and hiking trails exist within the Pioneer Mountains, no federally designated wilderness areas exist - which undoubtedly helps keep the use down.
The Pioneer Mountains are essentially divided into two halves by the Wise River and a scenic highway road. Very tall mountains that rise well above tree line characterize the eastern half of the Pioneer Mountains. Numerous alpine lakes are found at the base of these tall peaks and an extensive hiking trail network exists. The eastern half of the Pioneer Mountains is also very rich in history. Many roads that lead to the eastern side of the mountains pass through old, deserted mining towns that are littered with abandoned buildings and settlements.
The western half of the Pioneer Mountains is distinctly different than the eastern half. The mountains on the western side of the Pioneer Mountains are much more rounded and are heavily forested. These mountains, which rise to the east of the beautiful Big Hole River Valley (see our Big Hole River page for more information), also have many lakes that are tucked away in the thick forests. Although the area lacks formal protection, few roads go into the western side of the Pioneer Mountains. An extensive trail network provides for excellent hiking and horse packing opportunities.
Most of the lakes in the Pioneer Mountains offer quality mountain fishing. Grayling, cutthroat trout, brook trout and rainbow trout can all be found in these mountain waters.
Access to the Pioneer Mountains is excellent. A scenic road passes right through the middle of the eastern and western sides, providing for wonderful access. Numerous other dirt roads - some in only fair condition - access the mountains from the lower valleys. Many of these roads travel quite a ways into the mountains, allowing for many day hiking opportunities. Camping is also easy, both at designated campgrounds as well as at numerous informal sites.
The Pioneer Mountains are part of the Beaverhead National Forest. For those seeking gear before heading off into the mountains, the largest town that is nearby is Butte, which lies around 70 miles away or so. Dillon, which is closer, also has a pretty good selectioin on things should you happen to forget something.