On the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, you can travel the length of the Pioneer Mountain Range. Granite peaks topping 10,000 feet in elevation are to the east, and gentler, forested terrain stretches out to the west. You'll see mountain meadows, lodgepole pine forests and broad willow bottoms. The road gently ascends a 7,800 foot divide between Wise River, flowing north, and Grasshopper Creek, flowing south. Interpretive sites along the byway tell travelers about the natural scene and some of the interesting history of the Pioneer Mountains. You may also visit the ghost town of Coolidge and the abandoned Elkhorn silver mine.Some of the best blue-ribbon trout fishing in the state can be found on the Big Hole River, which runs by the town of Wise River. Annually, locals and out-of-towners try their luck against the brook trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout that can be found in the river and side streams. You may even find some excellent fishing in one of the harder to get to high elevation lakes. Numerous trails leading into the Pioneer Mountains begin along the Byway. Most of these trails are for serious hikers and backpackers only. If you are able and have the time the experience of following in the footsteps of some of the early trappers, traders, and mountainmen is a rewarding experience. Afterwards you may want to relax your muscles in one of the hot pools at Elkhorn Hot Springs. The soothing water is naturally heated to a temperature around 100 degrees. The winter months bring snow and excellent cross-country and downhill skiing. For a scenic drive with a slight twist try snowmobiling the Pioneer Mountains Byway. Closed for the winter it is a National Recreation Snowmobile Trail, offering great snowmobiling surrounded by beautiful views elegantly blanketed in fallen snows.
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The Scenic Byway starts at Montana State Highway 43 in the town of Wise River and travels south approximately 49 miles over Forest Service Highway 73 to County Highway 278.The road is officially closed from December 1 through May 15 between Pettengill parking lot to the north and Elkhorn Hot Springs to the south. During that time, the byway is a National Recreation Snowmobile Trail, offering great snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Driving time is about 1.5 hours and the length of the drive is about 49 miles.
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