Driving the lonely Skalkaho Highway in Montana

Skalkaho Highway is a scenic highway located on the boundary between Granite and Ravalli counties in the U.S. state of Montana. This mostly unpaved route climbs through the Sapphire Mountains, a remote part of Montana. Elk, mule deer, badgers, coyotes, and black bears can be seen along the highway.

Skalkaho Highway

How long is the Skalkaho Highway?

The road, also known as Montana Highway 38 (MT 38), is 54 miles (87 km) long, running from the town of Hamilton (in Bitterroot Valley) to Philipsburg (in Flint Creek Valley). It’s the only direct route between these two agricultural areas.

Is Hwy 38 in Montana paved?

The road is mostly unpaved but navigable by all passenger vehicles. Trailers are not recommended as there are narrow curves with limited pull-outs.

When was Skalkaho Highway built?

The road was once a heavily used trail for Indians. It was built in 1924 to link mountainous mining areas with the settlements in the valleys.

Is Skalkaho road open?

Set high in the Sapphire Mountains in the southwestern part of Montana, the road tops out at Skalkaho Pass, a high mountain pass at an elevation of 2.212m (7,258ft) above sea level. The route is closed during winter due to heavy snowfalls.

Is the Skalkaho Highway scenic?

This is a narrow winding drive that offers some excellent views and takes you past Skalkaho Falls. Along the picturesque road, it's possible to enjoy lush meadows, dense forests, and alpine vistas.

Is the Skalkaho Highway dangerous?

It has a lot of sweeping curves and a few tight and twisting segments; it is partly made of pavement and dirt in the middle of the route and pavement on the end. The pass is isolated and mountainous with lots of sweeping serpentine curves and twists, high elevations, and steep grades. In some segments, the road is narrow. Hence, it’s better not to drive large trailers on the way. It makes it necessary to drive carefully and slow down whenever approaching an oncoming car. The road can be pretty hairy. Gravel, narrow, straight drop-offs, no guardrails, 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), it is 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.

Is the Skalkaho Highway remote?

This drive takes you on some of Montana's least-traveled mountain roads. Make sure you have filled up and have your needed supplies with you that you will need. Once you leave Hamilton, there really aren't any places to purchase anything until you reach Philipsburg. With this being a relatively short ride, there shouldn't be much you would need other than extra batteries for your camera.