The Garfield Mountain roadless area

This is another high, dry, cold, and open roadless area on the Continental Divide in the Beaverhead Mountains of Idaho and Montana. Garfield Mountain (elev. 10,961 ft.), the highest of the Lima Peaks, gives the roadless area one of its several names. It is also called "Lima Peaks" roadless area and still yet, the "Red Conglomerate Peaks" roadless area.

Toward the Lima Peaks. Photo on the Continental Divide
Copyright © Ralph Maughan The Lima Peaks from the shoulder of Red Conglomerate
  Garfield Mountain is on the left. I was standing on the Continental Divide.

The importance of this area and its unique characteristics were slow to be realized by Idaho and Montana conservationists. The roadless area consists of two east to west-running ridges in the Beaverhead Mountains. The Continental Divide itself is dominated by the Red Conglomerate Peaks. As you move north into Montana, you drop and then rise to the four bare summits of the Lima Peaks, so named because the town of Lima, Montana sits at their base. About 3/4 of the area is treeless due to rain shadow, making cross country rambling fairly easy. The area has complicated geology, consisting of sedimentary rocks (such as reddish conglomerate), volcanic rocks and granite.

In July 2006 I found paleontologists exploring in the area. They had made some finds of "terrestrial" fossils.

Elk, deer, and pronghorn antelope are common. There are a few moose. Prior to the recent wolf reintroductions there were occasional reports of wolves in this area. Today wolves use the roadless area and surrounding lands as part of their range.

Hikers should be very careful in the conglomerate, the round rocks that erode out of it are like ball bearings under your boots. I know from experience!  

The downside in terms of esthetics and beauty is presence of too many cattle throughout the summer and early fall. They collect along the streamsides, seeps and bogs, displacing the wildlife both directly and indirectly.

The Montana side of the Red Conglomerate Peaks at sunrise
The Montana side of the Red Conglomerate Peaks at sunrise.

Copyright © Ralph Maughan


Here is crude map of the roadless area showing its relation to Idaho and Montana,
Interstate 15 and the tiny town of Lima, MT.

Red Conglomerate Peak on the Continental Divide
Red Conglomerate Peak, 10,250ft., from the west. It sits on the Continental Divide. Photo taken across Red Canyon. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

The Thumb in the Red Conglomerate Peaks
The Thumb on the Continental Divide in the Red Conglomerate Peaks. Copyright © Ralph Maughan


Ralph Maughan email / rev. last on 7-29-2006