Skalkaho Highway

Skalkaho Highway, a drive down Montana’s loneliest highway

The Skalkaho Highway is a 54 mile drive that runs between the Bitterroot Valley and the Philipsburg Valley, in the Sapphire Mountains in southwest Montana, USA. This mostly unpaved route climbs through the Sapphire Mountains, a remote and seldom visited part of Montana. Elk, mule deer, badgers, coyotes, and black bears can be seen along the highway. 

The drive follows Montana Highway 38 for its entire length and climbs up the Skalkaho Pass, a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.212m (7,258ft) above the sea level. The road over the pass connects the towns of Hamilton in the Bitterroot Valley and Philipsburg in Flint Creek Valley and remains the only direct route between these two important agricultural areas. Originally an Indian route, Highway 38 was built in 1924 to link mountainous mining areas with the agricultural settlements in the valleys. 

The route is closed during winter due to heavy snowfalls. Highway 38 is a seasonal shortcut from Hamilton to Philipsburg, Montana. This road has a lot of sweeping curves and a few tight and twisting it is partly made of pavement and dirt in the middle of the route and pavement on the end. Make sure you have fulled up and have your needed supplies with you that you will need. Once you leave Hamilton there really isn't any places to purchase anything until ll you reach Phillupsburg. With this being a relatively short ride there shouldn't be much you would need other than extra batteries for you camera. This is a scenic drive over the isolated and mountainous Skalkaho Pass, located between Hamilton and Phillipsburg, where it's possible to enjoy lush meadows, dense forests, and alpine vistas. Elk, mule deer, badgers, coyotes, and black bears can be seen along the highway. 

The surface on this gravel road is often loose, especially along the sides of the road. This drive into the Sapphire Mountains takes you on some of Montana's least traveled mountain roads. The road was once a heavily used trail for Indians. A road was built over the route in 1924 to link the mining areas in the mountains with the agricultural communities of the Bitterroot ValleyThis is a narrow winding drive that offers some excellent views and takes you past Skalkaho Falls. Trailers are not recommended as there are narrow curves with limited pull-outs. It makes necessary to drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car. The road can be pretty hairy. Gravel, narrow, straight drop offs, no guard rails, curves so you can't see what's coming at you around the corner... Beware if you are driving on the outside edge and meet a big truck. If you have acrophobia (fear of heights), strongly recommended to drive the road westbound only (i.e. FROM Phillipsburg TO Hamilton) as that way you'll be hugging the mountainside instead of hugging the sheer drop-offs.


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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.