Many of the Forest Service roads provide visitors the opportunity for drives from one hour to an entire day to view wildlife and panoramic vistas of high peaks and valleys. Visitors should obtain a Forest map to plan trips and take necessary precautions for unexpected changes in weather and road conditions. Forest roads will vary in condition from well maintained to primitive roads passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Check with the District office for specific road conditions.
The Highlands offer several opportunities for scenic drives accessing the Highland Lookout and Humbug Spires. From Butte take Montana Highway 2 south eight miles to Roosevelt Drive (Forest Service Road #84) take a right and drive approximately nine miles to the junction of Forest Service Road #8520, take a left and drive one and a half miles, turn left onto Forest Service Road #668 for one mile, turn south on Forest Service Road #8514 for three fourths of a mile and then we recommend you park your car and walk the remaining one and a half miles to the Lookout. The road is maintained and suitable for two wheel drive vehicles during the summer months to this point. Travel time is approximately 45 minutes from Butte. The walk will take you above timberline for a spectacular panoramic vista of the summer.
A second drive through the Highlands provides a scenic loop which comes out through Burton Park and Interstate I5 at the Feeley interchange. From Butte take Montana Highway 2 south eight miles to Roosevelt Drive (Forest Service Road #84). The road continues for 19 miles to Interstate I5 and provides scenic vistas in the Highlands and mountain meadows with opportunities to view moose, elk and deer throughout the drive. To return to Butte from the Feeley interchange, take I-15 north to Interstate 90 and continue east to Butte four miles. This drive will take approximately one and a half to two hours to complete and will accommodate two-wheel vehicles during the area.
North of Butte offers a scenic loop drive from either elk Park to Bernice on Interstate I5 or Rocker on Interstate 90. From Butte take Interstate I5 north to Helena to the elk Park exit and drive west on Forest Service Road #442 past Sheepshead Recreation Area for approximately ten miles where the road connects to Forest Service Road #82 and continues out to Interstate I5 at the Bernice interchange. The drive will take you down through an old mining area where you can view tailings from past mining operations. This drive will take approximately one and a halt to two hours to complete and will accommodate two wheel vehicles during the summer.
Take Interstate I5 north to Helena, exit at elk Park and continue on Forest Service Road #442 until it intersects with Forest Service Road #9485. Take #9485 approximately 15 miles where it will join Road #85 and return to Interstate 90 at Rocker interchange. The drive will take approximately one and a half to two hours to complete and accommodate two wheel vehicles during the summer.
Spring Emery Road
From Deer Lodge. take Forest Service Road #705 to Forest Service Road #1504 for approximately 11 miles to Forest Service Road #82, Turn right and head back to Deer Lodge. The drive will take you through scenic vistas and mountain meadows for a total of 25 miles. The road is maintained and suitable for two wheel drive vehicles during the summer months.
From Deer Lodge, take Forest Service Road #82 over Champion Pass (Continental Divide) and down into the Headwaters of Boulder Creek for approximately 20 miles where it will end at the Bernice interchange on Interstate I5. From Bernice to Butte it is 20 miles and then 37 miles on Interstate 90 back to Deer Lodge. The drive will take approximately three to four hours In which there are four campgrounds along the route to stop for a picnic or fishing along Boulder Creek.
From Philipsburg head south five miles to Montana Highway 38 (Skalkaho Highway) where the drive will take you to Hamilton, approximately a 65 mile drive one way. The drive is very scenic and will take you over the Skalkaho Pass, passing a waterfall and picnic area The drive provides wildlife viewing and fishing opportunities in many of the Creeks on the way to Hamilton. The highway is open from June to September depending on snow conditions. Contact the District office for road conditions prior to leaving. The road is generally open to two wheel vehicles, without trailers, but has narrow road widths in some places.
From Philipsburg, head north half a mile to Montana Highway 348 and continue on 348 for approximately 14 miles. Take Forest Service Road #102 along Rock Creek for approximately 35 miles where it will end at the Rock Creek interchange on Interstate 90. From there you are 25 miles from Missoula or 24 miles from Drummond where you can exit and take Montana Highway 1 back to Philipsburg, 27 miles from Drummond. The drive is very scenic and provides excellent fishing opportunities along Rock Creek, a blue ribbon trout stream. There are wildlife viewing opportunities for moose, bighorn sheep and elk. The road is maintained and will accommodate two wheel vehicles during the summer. The road is generally open from mid May through mid September depending on snow conditions.
From Whitehall, head west on Interstate 90 to the Pipestone exit just below Homestake Pass and continue north on Forest Service Road #222. The road will take you through sagebrush grasslands and into the Umber, returning to Interstate 90 at Homestake pass 20 miles later. Approximately ten miles from Pipestone is Delmoe Lake Campground and picnic area Delmoe Lake has fishing opportunities and a boat launch area (no docking facility). The drive will take you approximately two to three hours to complete and is maintained for twowheel drive vehicles.
South Boulder, Tobacco Roots
This drive will take you up into a scenic canyon with high peaks, alpine meadows and lakes. From Whitehall, head east on Interstate 90 to the Cardwell exit where you will take Montana Highway 359 south approximately six miles to the South Boulder turnoff, heading southwest. The road turns into Forest Service Road #107 and continues for approximately 14 miles passing through the old mining town of Mammoth. The road will lead into the canyon through several dispersed recreation areas which are popular for picnicking. At the upper end of the canyon there are opportunities to park and take short hikes to several alpine lakes. The road is fair with areas which are not suitable for twowheel drive vehicles or vehicles with low clearance. Contact the District office for road conditions. The road is generally open from mid May to mid September depending on snow conditions.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication