Bob Marshall Wilderness

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Bob Marshall Wilderness
IUCN category Ib (wilderness area)
Big Salmon Lake.jpg
Map showing the location of Bob Marshall Wilderness
Map showing the location of Bob Marshall Wilderness
Big Salmon Lake
Location Montana, United States
Nearest city Kalispell, MT
Coordinates 47°49′0″N 113°4′0″W / 47.81667°N 113.06667°W / 47.81667; -113.06667Coordinates: 47°49′0″N 113°4′0″W / 47.81667°N 113.06667°W / 47.81667; -113.06667
Area 1,009,364 acres (4,085 km2)
Established 1964
Governing body U.S. Forest Service

The Bob Marshall Wilderness Area is a Congressionally designated wilderness area located in western Montana in the United States. It is named after Bob Marshall (1901–1939), an early forester, conservationist, and co-founder of The Wilderness Society.[1] Bob Marshall was largely responsible for designation of large unroaded areas on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service through promulgation of various regulations in the 1930s. The Bob Marshall Wilderness extends for 60 miles (95 km) along the Continental Divide and consists of 1,009,356 acres (4,085 km²).[1] As directed by the Wilderness Act of 1964, Wilderness remains roadless, with the only permanent structures being some old ranger stations and horse bridges. The Bob is the fifth-largest wilderness in the lower 48 states (after the Death Valley Wilderness, Frank Church—River of No Return Wilderness, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness).[2] The five ranger districts administering the Bob manage 1,856 miles (2,970 km) of trail that are open to foot and stock use only.


"The Bob", as it is known by locals and nicknamed by the U.S. Forest Service employees, ranges in altitudes of 4,000 to over 9,000 feet (1,220 to 2750 m).[1] A long escarpment known as the Chinese Wall averages 1,000 feet (300 m) high from its base and extends for 22 miles (35 km).[1] Aside from numerous waterfalls, lakes, and dense forests, the wilderness is also prime Grizzly bear habitat and the U.S. Forest Service claims that the population density of this species is higher than can be found anywhere else in the U.S. outside of Alaska. The Bob is also home to many other large mammals such as moose, elk, black bear, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, wolverine, mountain lion, lynx, and wolf.[1] Bald eagles, osprey, pelican, and trumpeter swan are just a few of the bird species found. The dense old growth forests are dominated by Douglas fir, larch, and spruce. Forest fires have changed large areas in the wilderness complex in recent years.

Mountains in the Bob Marshall Wilderness

Wilderness areas do not allow motorized or mechanical equipment including bicycles or hanggliders. Camping and fishing are allowed; fishing requires a state license; no roads are present and there is also no logging or mining in compliance with the Wilderness Act. Some administrative cabins constructed in the early 1920s afford refuge for trail crews and wilderness rangers. Wilderness areas within National Forests and Bureau of Land Management areas also allow hunting in season.

Carmine Peak on the western boundary of the Bob Marshall Wilderness


The wilderness, along with the adjoining Scapegoat and Great Bear wildernesses, make up the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, with components administered by the Lolo, Flathead, Helena, and Lewis and Clark National Forests, respectively. All three wildernesses total 1,535,352 acres (6,070 km²).

The wilderness is located in parts of Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Powell, Teton, Missoula, and Pondera counties, and lies mostly within Flathead National Forest (70.3%) and partially within Lewis and Clark National Forest.[3] The wilderness can be accessed by trails (via foot travel or on horseback) from surrounding roads. U.S. highway 2 is to the north and separates the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex from Glacier National Park (U.S.). U.S. 89 and 287 are to the east and Montana highway 200 and 83 are to the south and west. Popular points of entry from the west are located near the communities of Swan Lake, Seeley Lake, Lincoln and Hungry Horse. From the east, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is accessible from Augusta, Choteau and Dupuyer. The wilderness is approximately 60 miles (97 km) west of Great Falls, Montana, 50 miles (80 km) north of Missoula, Montana, and 30 miles (48 km) east of Kalispell, Montana; all of the communities have airports with commercial flights.


The wilderness was administratively created in 1940 from the South Fork, Pentagon, and Sun River Primitive Areas (which were designated in the 1930s). With the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, it became part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.[1]

The wilderness is named in honor of Bob Marshall, who was largely responsible for designation of large unroaded areas on lands administered by the U.S. Forest Service through promulgation of various regulations in the 1930s.

See also[edit]

Panorama of Headquarters Pass


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Bob Marshall Wilderness". Wilderness.Net. Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  2. ^ " search page". Retrieved 2011-12-25. 
  3. ^ Bob Marshall Wilderness acreage breakdown,
  • Graetz, Rick and Susi (2004). Montana's Bob Marshall Country. Northern Rockies Publishing. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]