Experience late summer in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on this route through some of the most breathtaking country around. As leaves begin turning gold, orange, and red, the bugling of bull elk and crisp night air begin to hint at fall. Explore the rock pools and grottos of Birch Creek, the high-elevation alpine Big River Meadows, and the stark limestone features of Walling Reef and the North Fork of Dupuyer Creek.
Birch Creek has an almost Southwest feeling to it, with its rock water features, small canyons, and steep mountains. We explore this dramatic landscape as we travel up the drainage. Before crossing the Continental Divide, the topography softens slightly, taking us through a series of open meadows before reaching Gateway Pass. From the pass, it’s only a short distance to the picturesque Big River Meadows. Big River Meadows is partially circled by high ridges of the Continental Divide to the east and falls away forwards Strawberry Creek to the west. We stay here for three nights, exploring Bighorn Mountain (8174’) along the divide and Crystal Ridge, a broad open ridge filled with geologic wonders. This is a perfect location for wildlife viewing and watching the sunset on the ridges of the divide.
We retrace our route for several miles before turning up Phone Creek. In this drainage, we camp near a sweet little waterfall for two nights, allowing us to explore the Phone Creek Pass area, where few travel. Our last day provides a host of extraordinary sights, from the views at Bennie Hill Pass, to the stark limestone ridge of Walling Reef, to the steep walls of the North Fork of Dupuyer Creek Canyon.
This trip is ideal for those who want to experience the mountains on the cusp of seasonal change and some of the wildest country in the Bob.