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 7,258 feet (2,212 m) 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 snowfall. 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.
A quick glance at the map, at its sheer drops and serpentine twists and turns, confirms that this is no hype. 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 Valley.
The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. This 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.