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Montana Birding and Nature Trail
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Indian Trees Campground

Peeled Pines Tell a Story

Big pines are more than wildlife habitat

These trees tell the story of the long-time presence of the Bitterroot Salish in the valley.

Indian Trees Campground Site Map

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Field Notes

In spring, the ponderosa pine forest and creek come alive with returning migratory birds, including yellow warblers, olive-sided flycatchers, western wood-pewees, and black-chinned hummingbirds. A gray jay - a year-round Montana resident - pecks crumbs on a picnic table. Ruffed grouse drum from the tangle of riparian shrubs.

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Habitat Link

These centuries-old ponderosas have long-served native peoples and wildlife alike. Pines are adapted to live through many fires, because of thick, fire-resistant bark - clearly visible in these peeled trees.

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Cultural Link

Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, Nez Perce and Shoshone all participated in peeling large ponderosa pines to sustainably harvest the sweet cambium under the bark. This site is also close to where the Corps of Discovery ate lunch on September 4, 1805, just before meeting with the Bitterroot Salish encampment.

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Viewing Tip

Walk around the campground for birding, spending time viewing for warblers near the small streams with adjacent shrubs. Remember, whenever you camp or picnic, not to leave food out - gray jays aren't the only species that will be attracted. This is black bear country too.

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Helpful Hint

Your best bet for enjoying this site is to camp here if possible. Currently, there are no day-use parking sites. Before the campground opens (April 26) and after it closes (Sept. 30th), you can park at the gate and wander through the quiet campground. You can also pay to park in a campsite.

"Particularly, on this Creek, the Indians have peeled a number of Pine for the underneath bark, which they eate at certain seasons of the year."
Capt. Clark, Sept. 12, 1805

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Getting There

South of the Sula Ranger District office, look for the sign to the Indian Trees Campground to the right (west) off Highway 93. The campground is a little over a mile from the highway, near a few private residences.

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Contact

Bitterroot National Forest, Sula Ranger District, Sula, MT 59871 (406)821-3201

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Site Information

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