Western Montana’s Blackfoot River has become one of the state’s most popular and important recreational streams. Its natural setting and features and the fame gained from the movie A River Runs Through It have all contributed to its popularity. Fishing, non-motorized floating, camping, nature watching and just plain getting away from it all are included in the ever growing public uses of the Blackfoot. The Blackfoot Valley provides habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals including grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, moose, elk, osprey, bald eagles, pileated woodpeckers, and neotropical migrant songbirds. This free flowing river provides significant habitat for sensitive fish species such as bull and cutthroat trout, as well as rainbow and brown trout.
The Blackfoot River area has been occupied by Native Americans for at least 10,000 years. It is believed that most of the use of this area consisted of summertime hunting camps and as a travelway between the Great Plains and lands to the west of the Continential Divide. This latter use was well documented in historic times, when a portion of the Corps of Discovery, under the leadership of Meriwether Lewis, traveled through the Blackfoot Valley and crossed the divide at the head of Alice Creek on their return trip. They had learned of this route from the Nez Perce of Idaho, who traveled it to the Upper Missouri River basin in order to hunt buffalo. The Nez Perce name for the Blackfoot River is Cokahalishkit, which means ‘river of the road to the buffalo.’
The primary highway travel route is Highway 200 that follows the Blackfoot River through the small community of Lincoln and continues up and over the Continental Divide over Rogers Pass. Lewis and Clark Pass is the next pass north of the main travel way.
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