Skalkaho Pass in Montana

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Skalkaho Pass

Take a scenic drive over the isolated and mountainous Skalkaho Pass, located between Hamilton and Phillipsburg, and see lush meadows, dense forests, and alpine vistas.

  • Skalkaho Pass sits at 7,260 feet within Bitterroot National Forest. 
  • During summer, drive the Skalkaho Highway for great alpine views. 
  • Campgrounds and hiking trails are located nearby. 
  • Snowmobile down the groomed trails at Skalkaho Pass in winter. 
  • Be sure to stop for photos and a picnic lunch at Skalkaho Falls. 

Overview

Skalkaho Pass is the summit of Skalkaho Highway (MT-38), which runs between Hamilton, MT and Philipsburg, MT. The highway is a seasonal road; in winter, only the first 10 miles (Hamilton side) are plowed. However, winter travelers may still reach the pass via snowmobile.

Driving Directions

Just 3 miles south of Hamilton, turn left onto MT-38 E and enjoy the breathtaking scenery around every twist and turn. Skalkaho Pass is located approximately 26 miles down MT-38 E and sits at 7,260 feet.

Time/Distance

On Skalkaho Highway, driving speeds slow considerably due to narrow conditions. The MT-38 turn-off to Skalkaho Pass is approximately 26 miles but takes about 30 – 45 minutes.

During winter, drive 10 miles down MT-38 E until you find the parking area. From here you can snowmobile the remaining 16 miles to Skalkaho Pass.

Highlights

  • Drive amidst dense fir and pine forests, narrow gorges, and sprawling meadows.
  • Stop for a picnic lunch near the cascading waters at Skalkaho Falls.
  • During summer, camp at Black Bear Campground in the Darby District of Bitterroot National Forest of hike around Skalkaho Basin.
  • During winter, snowmobile down 26 miles of groomed trails at Skalkaho Pass Area, or cross-country ski.
  • Elk, mule deer, badgers, coyotes, and black bears can be seen along the highway.

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