The Anaconda Range is a mountain range in Southwestern Montana in between the towns of Sula and Anaconda. It is a beautiful range with towering rock cliffs, dense pine forests, fresh water lakes, and waterfalls. What is most special about this range is its rustic nature. While there are signs of life, with hiking and fishing and horseback riding, the mountain trails are limited once you are up high on the range. To reach the lofty summits you need to scramble and find your own way. There are miles and miles of rich forests and lakes below the summits. Summit views provide miles of green tree cover, sprawling across the landscape. There is a big sky above and tiny valleys nestled in between. There is little development, and plenty of land. There are aspen trees in the autumn. The forest smells fresh, like pine, filling your nostrils with clean unspoiled air, energizing a trek into the deep mountain wilderness.
There is a Western part of the range referred to as the Pintler Range and an Eastern part of the range is that is close to the town of Anaconda, Montana, and can be seen directly above Route 1 on the road between Anaconda and Philipsburg. These mountains are quite beautiful, especially during the summer months. They are far from civilization, but offer plenty of camping areas and hiking trails. Fishing in the many Anaconda lakes is tremendous. You will find Moose in Black Bear in the extensive forests. Many of the peaks in the Anaconda Range are part of the Continental Divide.
The highest mountain in the range is West Goat Peak at 10,793'. The highest mountains rise over 4,500' from the surrounding valleys. Because of the Northern latitude, tree line is about 8,500-9,000 feet, and the mountains get lots of snow in the winter. Snow generally covers these mountains from September through early June.
Summitpost has several Ananconda Range mountain pages. This page will house images and broad information on the range. I encourage people to add to this page over time with more detailed information, and hopefully more Anaconda mountain pages will be posted on this site in the coming months.
History and Background
History of the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness
Much of the Anaconda Range was originally designated as a Primitive Area in 1937. Early documents show the area was designated as Wilderness because of its rugged, scenic beauty, pristine condition, and "almost complete absence of man's influence". This Wilderness takes its name form the Anaconda Mountain Range and Charles Ellsworth Pintler, a Big Hole Valley settler of the late 1800s. In 1964 the Anaconda-Pintler joined the national wilderness system, under the Wilderness Act.
The Anaconda-Pintler covers 159,086 acres along the Continental Divide. Much of the area lies above 9000 feet. Elevations range from 5400 feet at Willow Flats on the East Fork of the Bitterroot River to 10,783 feet at West Goat Peak. Annual precipitation is 40 to 60 inches. Underlying, complex structural geology has been sculpted by recent glaciation. Glacial ice carved cirques and U-shaped valleys and deposited moraines are present in much of the Wilderness. Varied topography results in an array of vegetation that includes sagebrush, willows, aspen and a multitude of wildflowers as well as cone-bearing trees: ponderosa, lodgepole, and whitebark pines; Douglas and subalpine first, and subalpine larch.
The patterns of vegetation change with elevation, aspect, geology and fire. The alpine zone consists of talus rock slopes, small lakes (tarns), snowfields, meadows and tundra-like plant communities similar to the Arctic. In turn, this diverse plant life supports large wildlife populations including mountain goat, ramhorn sheep, elk, moose, deer, black bear, mountain lion and wolverine plus numerous smaller animals and birds.
The geology of the area also appears to vary considerably, with exposed limestone deposits and numerous small caves and pits in the area.