Chief Joseph Pass in Montana

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Chief Joseph Pass

Spanning the Continental Divide within the Bitterroot Range at 7,241 feet, Chief Joseph Pass is a scenic thoroughfare surrounded by picturesque peaks and two national forests, providing excellent views and outdoor fun.

  • Chief Joseph Pass sits at 7,241 feet on the Continental Divide in the Bitterroot Range. 
  • From the Bitterroot Valley, travel south on US-93 and east on MT-43. 
  • Hike the Continental Divide trail and recreate in Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forest. 
  • Cross-country ski at the pass during winter. 
  • Visit nearby Big Hole National Battlefield. 
 

Overview

Chief Joseph Pass is located on the Continental Divide between Montana and Idaho. Named after the infamous chief of the Nez Perce tribe, the pass sits at 7,241 feet at the southern end of the Bitterroot Range and is traversed by MT-43. The pass is surrounded by the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forests, making is a superb location for year-round recreation. Travelers can hike down a portion of the Continental Divide Trail, cross-country ski on 25 kilometers of groomed trails in winter, view wildlife on the summits and slopes, and enjoy a range of other outdoor activities.

Driving Directions

From the Bitterroot Valley, drive south on US-93 before turning left at MT-43 E.

Time/Distance

It takes just under an hour to drive to the top of the pass from Hamilton, Montana.

Highlights

  • See the tall peaks and forested hills of the Bitterroot Range at the Continental Divide.
  • During summer, hike the Continental Divide Trail or explore sections of Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Bitterroot National Forests.
  • Descend east on MT-43 and stop at Big Hole National Battlefield before heading onward to Wisdom.
  • During winter, glide over 24 kilometers of groomed trails within an eight-loop system at Chief Joseph Cross Country Ski Trail.
  • See deer, elk, bears and other wildlife species along the drive.
  • Skiers and snowboarders can spend a day at nearby Lost Trail Powder Mountain during winter.

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