Have you ever wanted to strike out on an expedition? Lemhi Pass will take you through breathtaking scenery on a journey back in time. Here’s why you should go out of your way to take this road less traveled, recently named one of America’s Most Scenic Roads by
Travel + Leisure.
Lemhi Pass lies on the Montana-Idaho border, following the Continental Divide. This historic pass is located in the Salmon-Challis National Forest and the Beaverhead Mountains (in the Bitterroot Range of the Rocky Mountains). The unpaved road is over 7,300 feet above sea level.
From 1803 to 1846, this pass marked the United States' western border. Lewis and Clark used this pass in 1805 to leave the United States and become the first Americans to travel this far west. They saw the white-capped mountains before them and knew they were beginning a difficult leg of their journey.
Lewis and Clark had to acquire horses to make the pass, and the modern-day traveler should acquire a high-clearance vehicle with four-wheel drive (and a spare tire). The road is unpaved and can be rocky.
The last four miles of the unpaved road is a single lane and could require some tricky driving if you encounter an oncoming car. Watch out for cattle and moose that often wander onto the road.
Though it may be nerve-racking for some, the payoff is undeniable. To travel in the footsteps of some of America's greatest adventurers, through scenery that looks almost exactly the same as it did two centuries ago, is an incredible experience.
Patches of pine and douglas-fir spring up along the side of the road, blanketed in sagebrush and, in some places, wildflowers. Throughout the drive, the rugged mountains make a breathtaking backdrop. Traveling this pass is an unforgettable experience.