The West Big Hole roadless area in the Bitterroot Mountains of the Beaverhead Range
The Bitterroot Mountains of the Beaverhead Range from near Salmon, Idaho
The West Big Hole area as seen from Salmon, Idaho. Freeman Peak
is the prominent peak on the far left. Monument Peak is in the center.
The rugged peak to the right is the highest of the three, but has no official name.
© Ralph Maughan

Most of this roadless area is in Montana, but the range's rugged west face forms the west side of the Salmon River Valley in Idaho. This area of jagged peaks is the Continental Divide and also the Idaho/Montana border. The West Big Hole roadless area is about 30 miles north of the Italian Peaks roadless area. Together, the Idaho and Montana portions form a large roadless area of over 200,000 acres. 80,000 acres of the roadless area is in Idaho.

The mountain range is rugged. The highest peak is 10,621 foot (3237 meters) Homer Young's Peak, which lies just to the east of the Continental Divide in Montana.

There has never been much organized support in Idaho for protecting this area as wilderness, but there has been much support (and opposition) arguing over its future, in Montana.

The major threat to the area is logging on the Montana side.

Wildlife present in the area include numerous deer, elk, antelope, black bear and cougar. There is a small herd of bighorn sheep and a larger number of mountain goats. As far as the elk and deer herds go, the area is extremely important as a fall and spring migration corridor. Summertime resident elk and deer are not abundant. The reintroduced wolves use the lower elevation parts of the roadless area and the semi-roadless country adjacent. As of 2005, a large wolf pack was developing in the northern end of the area in Idaho.

Freeman Peak, 10,283 ft. and Freeman Creek Canyon.
Copyright Ralph Maughan


West Big Hole roadless area/ Oct. 14, 2005