360° VR Panoramas of the Mountains of Northern Idaho and the Panhandle
Lolo Pass and the Lochsa River
Idaho


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Swim area at Wild Goose Camp on the Clearwater River

Swim area at Wild Goose Camp on the Clearwater River

When I ended my day's drive across Lolo Pass it was still 95° and it felt wonderful to stand knee-deep in the cool Clearwater River. Wild Goose is a tiny gem of a campground, and everyone staying there that night drank beer and talked until late.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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In the historic ranger station on the Lochsa River

In the historic ranger station on the Lochsa River

Models of the various types of fire lookout buildings and towers form part of the exhibits at the historic ranger station. One of the functions of this station was to supply the remote lookouts, usually reachable only by pack mules. The circular table in the center of the room is an Osborne Fire Finder. It was used to determine compass bearing to a column of smoke, and, in conjunction with other lookouts, to triangulate its position.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Lochsa Historic Ranger Station

Lochsa Historic Ranger Station

This cluster of small wooden buildings was the administrative center of the backcountry along the Lochsa River from 1925 until roads were built in the 1950's. The Forest Service has restored several of the buildings as a historic site.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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The mule corral at the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station

The mule corral at the Lochsa Historic Ranger Station

This ranger station was the center of a web of patrol cabins and fire lookouts, most of which could only be reached by trail. Mule trains still ply the trails in wilderness areas where motor vehicles are not allowed.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Eagle Mountain Trail horse bridge over the Lochsa River

Eagle Mountain Trail horse bridge over the Lochsa River

The famous Lolo Trail, now paralleled by a modern road, follows the north bank of the Lochsa River for many miles. A few primitive roads and a lot of trails head north into wilderness and timber country, but the south bank and the mountains behind are less developed. To provide access the Forest Service has built a few bridges, designed for horses and mule trains, not cars, that lead into trail networks. Note the high railings and the single track down the middle.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Lochsa River on the Lolo Pass Highway

Lochsa River on the Lolo Pass Highway

The Lochsa River runs free for its entire 70 mile length, from near Lolo Pass to its junction with the Clearwater River. Though today the river is paralleled by a highway, the traditional route that Lewis and Clark were guided along ran mostly on the ridge tops to the north of the river.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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In the Bernard de Voto Memorial Cedar Grove

In the Bernard de Voto Memorial Cedar Grove

The west side of the Bitterroot Range receives abundant moisture, mostly in the form of snow. Favorable pockets along the river have developed impressive groves of western red cedar, highly valued for its timber. Compared to the cold dry mountain forests of Montana across the divide, these groves seem amazingly lush and jungly.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Bernard de Voto memorial plaque

Bernard de Voto memorial plaque

Known for his work in American history and eloquent defense of public lands and conservation, de Voto camped in this grove while researching and editing the journals of Lewis and Clark.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Crooked Fork of the Lochsa River at the de Voto Cedar Grove

Crooked Fork of the Lochsa River at the de Voto Cedar Grove

The Lochsa River runs rapidly down its densely forested valley, dropping 2000 feet in it 70 mile length. In this entire area there is to this day hardly a meadow, clearing, or farm.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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West of Lolo Pass on the Lolo Pass Highway

West of Lolo Pass on the Lolo Pass Highway

The Lolo Pass crossing of the Bitterroot Mountains was one of the biggest challenges for the Lewis and Clark expedition. Their Indian guides led them along the ridge tops north of the river where the forest is more open and there are fewer stream crossings. Now the highway descends from the pass to follow the river for almost a hundred beautiful miles.

Lolo Pass Highway, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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Lolo Pass visitor center

Lolo Pass visitor center

The Forest Service visitor center here at the summit of Lolo Pass provides information for travelers, and also acts as a support center for winter recreation. Lolo Pass was where Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery crossed the Bitterroot Mountains, the greatest challenge encountered on their westward journey.

Lolo Pass, Idaho

Date photographed: August 3, 2014
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