"The Lolo Trail was the northern route across the rugged Bitterroot Mountains used for centuries before Lewis & Clark by Native Americans of the West. The Nez Perce traveled east to the great plains and the buffalo. The Salish used the trail to reach the Lochsa river and fish for salmon.
The history of this ancient route, it's primitive state, and vast beauty are what make the Lolo Trail such an incredible place and authentic Lewis & Clark experience. Unlike other trails built for recreational purposes to reach mountain tops or alpine lakes, the Lolo Trail evolved out of function."
-- Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures
"The Lolo Motorway provides breath-taking views in every direction, and allows modern explorers to escape the rush of daily life. One can imagine a time with no paved roads, but quiet trails winding their way through thick, lodgepole forests, open Ponderosa stands, and lush, green meadows. Along the motorway, you can hear the soft trickle of mountain streams, songs of mountain birds, and gaze in wonder at this vast, wild landscape."
-- USFS website
"For thousands of years water has carved its path, gradually creating a narrow canyon, increasing in volume and becoming a river. U.S. Highway 12 now parallels that river, the Lochsa.
The canyon remains much the same as it has been through the centuries—narrow, rugged, the river lined by evergreen trees and rock outcroppings. Over the millenia the Nez Perce people (Nimiipuu) lived, hunted, gathered roots, camped and fished here. They traveled across the ridgeline route north of the highway to hunt buffalo.
At Lowell the Lochsa River joins the Selway River, and the two become one. The canyon begins to widen, and the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River seems to slow down.
The Lochsa, Selway and Middle Fork of the Clearwater top the long list of rivers identified in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed by Congress in 1968. All are designated components of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. Rivers designated wild and scenic "possess outstandingly remarkable scenic... geologic... historic... or other similar values." They are to be "preserved in free-flowing condition, and... protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations."
-- From Highway 12: A Long and Winding Road (pdf), USFS.
"Hundreds of peaks separate more than thirty rugged drainages for nearly 90 miles along a dramatic mountain front stretching from the South Fork of Lolo Creek south to where rocky ridges break abruptly into the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. From the lofty vantage point of any of the 9000 to 10,000-foot peaks the impression is one of barren rock-granite, gneiss, and schist-from the jagged crest of the Bitterroots to the valley floor. A closer look reveals sheer walls, cliffs, tumbling waterfalls, hanging valleys, subalpine lake basins, and a glaciated terrain so rough that, in comparison, most other Montana mountains seem like gently rolling hills."
-- Visit Montana website
"The Bitterroot Mountains form a rugged, glacier-carved border between Idaho and Montana. On both sides of this border is the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the third largest Wilderness in the Lower 48. A much smaller (but still considerable) portion is protected by Montana, and the Idaho side includes the large Moose Creek Ranger District (560,000 roadless acres), the only district in the Forest Service System entirely within a Wilderness. Except for the high crest of the Bitterroots, the area is dominated by ridges broken with raw granite peaks. Below the ridges are deep canyons covered with thick coniferous forest. Hidden low valleys are rich with old-growth cedar, fir, and larch, and extensive stands of subalpine spruce and fir can be found higher up"
-- From Wilderness.net
"The country as usial except the Glades which is open boggey, water Clare and Sandey" William Clark, September 13, 1805 - Glade Creek Camp "we cross Glad Creek above its mouth at a place where the Flathead Indians have made a weir to catch salmon and have but lately left the place. I could see no fish, and the grass entirely eaten out by the horses, we proceed on two miles and encamped opposite a small island at the mouth of a small branch on the right side of the river, which is at this place 80 yards wide, swift and stony."
-- William Clark, September 14th 1805 - Colt Killed Creek Camp near present day Powell Ranger Station, ¼ mile from the Lochsa Lodge.
-- From Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures
"This facility hosts interpretive displays describing the Lewis and Clark Expedition through the Bitterroot Mountains, the Nez Perce War of 1877, and geologic features of the area. There are 24-hour restrooms, an interpretive walking path and nearby access to the Lolo Trail. A short drive to Packer Meadows allows visitors to picture the expedition as they waded through this lush, deep grass two hundred years ago. Don't miss the Camas bloom in late June!"
-- USFS website
"The Lolo visitor center serves as one of the many historical landmarks off Highway 12, the Lewis & Clark highway. The buildings were a part of the Old Mud Creek ranger station near Lolo Hot Springs in 1923. In 1977 they were moved to Lolo Pass and restored to meet the increased demands of an information center.
Winter season is quite busy, too as the Lolo Pass area serves as a major trail head for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. The visitor center sells parking permits and carries maps and winter usage information for visitors. "
-- Visit Montana website
"This old ranger station along the Lochsa River has been restored and furnished to represent life at a typical backcountry ranger station. Constructed of native materials in the 1920s and 30s, and accessible only by rugged pack trail before the construction of Hwy. 12 in the late 1950s, Lochsa Historical Ranger Station is a step back in time for nearly 10,000 visitors each summer. Visitors are greeted by volunteer interpreter guides and have the opportunity to envision living in the Ranger's Dwelling or the Alternate Ranger's Cabin."
-- From Visit Idaho website
Jerry Johnson and Weir hot springs are located just a few miles downstream from the Lochsa Lodge. It is a short hike from the trailheads alongside Highway 12, an easy walk through magnificent old growth forests, along Warm Springs or Weir Creeks to the respective springs. In the winter you can snowshoe or cross country ski to them.
Jerry Johnson has a series of pools alongside Warm Springs Creek, several of which mingle the hot water with cool water in creek-side pools. Several other pools sit up from the creek, and provide different environments from which to choose to soak and watch wildlife. Weir sits up on a rock ledge, overlooking the creek and a beautiful old-growth glade of cedar, fir and pine. Both springs provide wonderful opportunities to observe wildlife, while soaking away your cares.
And if you are really into hot springs, Stanley hot springs is a ways further down Highway 12 at Wilderness Gateway. It is a fairly strenuous several hour hike to get there, but well worth it.
"Bernard DeVoto was a historian of the American west (and early expert on Mark Twain) whose works include, among other things, an abridged edition of the Lewis and Clark journals, first published in 1953 and still widely used today...
On the Idaho side of Lolo Pass, along U.S. 12 fairly close to the top, is a beautiful grove of old-growth red cedars and other trees called the DeVoto Memorial Cedar Grove. Travelers can stop and walk among these majestic beauties and experience this spot along the Lochsa River where DeVoto himself camped and wrote when researching and editing the Lewis and Clark journals so many decades ago. DeVoto was also a conservationist and promoter of the idea of public lands."
-- From the Lewis & Clark Trail Watch
"Colgate Licks is an open glade with natural, sulfur-smelling mineral deposits containing calcium, sodium and potassium that attract wildlife. The one-mile loop meanders through the lush forest of lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, Grand fir and western red cedar. The trail crosses open meadows with overlooks of the Lochsa River and Bear Mountain. Interpretive stations describe the effects of fire on the trees and surrounding forest."
-- From RD Living