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The Bitterroot Valley runs south along the Bitterroot River between the Bitterroot Range to the west and the Sapphire Mountains to the east. The Bitterroot Range is the site of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, which at 1.3 million acres is one of the nation's largest wilderness areas. Numerous trail heads are located off major highways between Lolo and Darby. You can get information about hiking in the wilderness from the Bitterroot National Forest's Darby Ranger District Office, 712 N. Main St., Darby, MT 59829 (tel. 406/821-3913; www.fs.fed.us/r1/bitterroot), open Monday through Friday from 8am to 4:30pm.

The Lake Como Recreation Area is a popular day-use and camping area with swimming, hiking, and boating. To get there, go 4 miles north from Darby on U.S. 93. Turn west on Lake Como Road and go about 2 1/2 miles to the area. There are 22 camping units in two different campgrounds for $8 to $14 a night and a "rustic" cabin on the lake for $60 per night. Reservations for the cabin are available through the National Recreation Reservation Service (tel. 877/444-6777; www.recreation.gov); the campgrounds are first-come, first-served.

If it's fly-fishing you're seeking, check out Chuck Stranahan's Flies and Guides, 105 State St. (P.O. Box 594), Hamilton, MT 59840 (tel. 406/363-4197; www.chuck-stranahan.com), one of the longest-running acts in the Montana guiding business. Owner Chuck Stranahan is a nationally known fly-tier, with a number of his patterns chosen for the Jack Dennis fly-tying book, the bible of the business. He excels in instruction. His company customizes trips for its customers, with an emphasis on the Bitterroot River, though trips also go to other rivers in western Montana. Guided trips cost $365 to $450 per day for one or two people; personal instruction is $165 per person for a full day.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.