We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Magruder Corridor Guide

The Magruder Corridor (Montana Road) from the Red River Ranger Station, Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho to Darby MT.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 181 miles
Duration: Multiple days
Family Friendly

Overview :  The Magruder Road Corridor extends 95 miles through a vast undeveloped area, offering solitude and pristine beauty, as well as... more »

Tips:  Depending on the seasons' snowfall, the road is usually clear by July and open through September, sometimes a little longer. It gets... more »

Take this guide with you!

Save to mobile
Get this guide & thousands of others on your mobile phone
EveryTrail guides are created by travelers like you.
  1. 1. Download the EveryTrail app from the App Store
  2. 2. Search for the Magruder Corridor Guide guide
  3. 3. Enjoy your self-guided tour
Get the app

Points of Interest

1. Junction Red River Road with Hwy. 14

This is the turn off from Hwy 14 to the old Red River Ranger Station in route from Grangeville, Idaho. It is about 10 miles to the Ranger Station and the road is paved.

2. Elk City & Ranger Station

This is the closest location for fuel and there is a hotel here. The Ranger Station is also here and is the contact for maps and the latest trail info.

Elk City Ranger Station
300 American River Road
Elk City, ID 83525
Office hours: 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (Pacific Time), Monday - Friday

3. Junction FR 1818 with Red River Road

FR 1818 is gravel.

4. Red River Campground

Elevation: 4480'

It has 40 RV/Tent Sites with picnic tables and grills. No potable water.

This the closest campground to the beginning of the trip.

No horses!

The campground is composed of upper and lower camping areas and is pack it
in, pack it out. The Lower camping area is adjacent to the Red River with sites
overlooking the river or a... More

5. Red River Ranger Station (Historic)

Mile:0.0 Elevation:4380

There are interpretive signs, restrooms, and an RV dump here. This is also the last place to get potable water for about 65 miles.

There is plenty of room for RVs and temporary parking here.

6. Intersection Montana (Magruder) Road (FR #468) & Dixie Road

This intersection is about 1/2 mile south of the old ranger Station.

7. Mountain Meadows

Mile: 9.5 Elevation:6400

The headwaters of Meadow Creek lie directly north of the road.

There is room for about three camps. No amenities.

There are several pull outs on the north side of the road before reaching 14 Mile Tree. Camping is allowed in them.

8. 14 Mile Tree Trailhead

Mile: 14.4 Elevation: 7000

At 14-Mile Tree, the trailhead begins for Trails 501 and 580, which lead into the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. There is an information board, registration box and toilet. Stock facilities include a feeding rack and hitching rails. No water.

The road to the 14 Mile Campground/Trailhead is graveled,... More

9. Granite Springs

Mile: 18.1 Elevation: 6654

Granite Springs Campground lies on both sides of the road. It has pit toilets, picnic tables, stock facilities, and water for stock.

The printed USFS brochure says there is potable water here, but the location has a warning sign saying it is not potable. I would boil or filter drinking water here.

10. Elk Mountain Rd. #285

Mile:19.9 Elevation: 6764

Elk Mountain Road #285 branches to the northeast, a driveable 4 miles to the Green Mountain Lookout, with views of the Red River drainage.

When we were here the road was closed due to a forest fire. Video of the fire is in the Burnt Knob Lookout Video in POI #14.

11. Green Mountain Lookout

Elevation: 7227'

The first structure here was a 1930 vintage log cabin with cupola. The present 41' treated timber tower with L-4 cab was built in 1956. The tower is used for emergency detection throughout the summer, and is on the National Historic Lookout Register.

12. Poet Creek

Mile: 25.0 Elevation: 4973

Poet Creek Campground lies north of the Magruder Road. It has four camping units with tables, fireplaces, parking spurs, and pit toilets. There is no developed water source. Because stock is not permitted in the campground, four mangers are located south of the road.

Poet Creek joins Bargamin Creek here.

This is a... More

13. Burnt Knob Rd. #468C

Mile: 31.1 Elevation: 7200

Burnt Knob #468-C branches off to the north. This road is recommended for 4-wheel-drive only and ends at the historic Burnt Knob Lookout. Three Prong Trail #539, which starts in the saddle below the lookout, accesses McArthur, Stillman and Burnt Knob lakes.

This road looks rocky and bad at the beginning and gets worse... More

14. Burnt Knob Lookout

Elevation: 8196'

This is a very scenic, must visit, site. The old lookout is abandoned and has been replaced with electronic sensors.

It is about 1 1/2 miles uphill from the Magruder Road.

15. Dry Saddle Trailhead

Mile: 32.6 Elevation: 7920

Dry Saddle Trailhead lies both north and south of the road and has pit toilets, a loading ramp and graveled parking area.

It provides access to many high mountain lakes along Sheep Hill Trail #575. It is a ten-mile hike to Sheep Hill fire lookout tower.

The worst section of the main road starts here.

16. Sabe Saddle

Mile: 35.8 Elevation: 6740

From Dry Saddle, the rough and winding road drops down to Sabe Saddle. This portion of the road to here is very rocky, narrow, and sometimes very steep. There are few places to pass another vehicle.

17. Sabe Vista Point

Mile: 38.3 Elevation: 7466

From Dry Saddle, the rough and winding road drops down to Sabe Saddle and then climbs back up again to Sabe Vista, which offers many scenic views. Elevation is 7490 feet at the vista. This portion of the road is very narrow and sometimes very steep. There are few places to pass another vehicle.

18. Horse Heaven Saddle, Trail #28

Mile: 41.6 Elevation: 7066

This is the turn off to the Horse Heaven Cabin.

Horse Heaven is named for its lush grazing grasses.

It is easy to miss this turn off to the south. It is marked by one small sign.

19. Horse Heaven Cabin

Elevation: 7100'

Horse Heaven Cabin was built in 1939 at a CCC Camp near Darby, MT. It was then dissassembled and transported more than 60 miles west where it once functioned as a firefighter's cabin.

The cabin is south of the road on the spur road marked for Trail #028. The one-room log cabin is on the Forest Service cabin rental program and... More

20. Salmon Mtn Base Camp

Mile: 46.3 Elevation: 7546

The Old Salmon Mountain Ranger Station site was established in 1911. Nearby is the Salmon Mountain base camp, a very popular trailhead during hunting season. It has stock facilities.

This area is one of the few places in America where you can see the subalpine larch. The larch is the only deciduous coniferous tree,... More

21. Salmon Mtn Lookout Trail #705

Mile: 47.5 Elevation: 8030

A one-mile trail leads to the Salmon Mountain Lookout tower which is staffed by volunteers during fire season. The elevation is 8944 feet.

Mountain goats are often seen on the rocky crags and talus slopes of Salmon Mountain.

22. Observation Point

Mile: 50.2 Elevation:7585

Observation Point Campground has nice camping spots and toilet. Visitors can view the southern portion of the Bitterroot Mountain Range, especially El Capitan. The point also offers breathtaking vistas of subalpine/alpine wilderness

23. Flat Creek Trail #7 & Magruder Sign

Mile: 52.6 Elevation: 6562

Gold was discovered near Elk City, Idaho, in 1861 and near Bannack, Montana, in 1862. Many miners and traders used the Southern Nez Perce Trail as the most direct route from Elk City, Idaho, to Bannack or Virginia City, Montana.

In 1863 Lloyd Magruder and companions were returning along this route from Virginia City... More

24. Kim Creek Saddle & Trail Head

Mile: 55.0 Elevation: 5741

This is a nice level camping site. There are scenic views on the south side of the road.

25. Magruder Bridge & Campground

Mile: 61.6 Elevation: 3650'

The only place in the upper Selway drainage you can drive across the Selway River is at Magruder crossing. This steel pony-truss bridge was built by CCCs in 1935.

The campground has picnic tables, a toilet, stock facilities and water for stock.

My video at POI #29 (Selway River Raft Launch)shows views of the scenery... More

26. Selway River Junction Rd. #6223

Mile: 61.6 Elevation: 3650'

Travelers on this narrow one-lane road will enjoy a pleasant 12-mile drive along the Wild and Scenic Selway River. The river flows through a deep, beautiful canyon with some stands of western red cedar along its banks.

There is a pack bridge for the trail to Spot Mountain Lookout.

This 12 miles of road is one long ... More

27. Raven Creek Campground

Raven Creek is a primitive campground right along the road with two sites and a pit toilet.

28. Indian Creek Campground

Visitors at the primitive Indian Creek Campground may walk to the Indian Creek Hatchery site.

The Indian Creek hatching channel was constructed in 1964 so that spring chinook salmon eggs could be planted in the Selway River drainage. Fish had been unable to reach the Selway since the construction of the Lewiston Dam in 1929.

A total of... More

29. Selway River Raft Launch

Elevation: 3067'

A launch site for river rafting is located near the end of Paradise Road. Permits are required from May 15 to July 31 to float the 47-mile section of the Selway River from Paradise to Selway Falls. Information can be obtained from the West Fork Ranger Station.

30. Paradise Campground

Paradise Campground is 1/4 mile up White Cap Creek road from the raft launch site.

The campground has eleven sites, with toilets, picnic tables, stock facilities and meat racks. This is a very heavily used trailhead during hunting season.

A Forest Service administrative site is adjacent to the Paradise Campground with a cabin, barn and corrals.

31. Road to Magruder Ranger Station

Mile: 65.0 Elevation: 4100

The Deep Creek bridge is a beautiful example of arched native cut-stone construction. It was built by Lithuanian stone masons who were assisted by CCC enrollees in the 1930’s.

32. Magruder Ranger Station

Elevation: 4100'

The Magruder Ranger Station is located 1/2 mile from Road #468.

The stock facilities here are not for private use.

Potable water is available here, but no other services are available at the unstaffed remote station.

After the widespread forest fires of 1910 and 1919, the Forest Service built many low-standard roads into the... More

33. Deep Creek Campground

Mile: 65.1 Elevation: 4100

The campground has three sites with picnic tables, toilets and stock facilities.

34. Pavement Begins

Mile: 72.4 Elevation: 4950

Before the 1980 Central Idaho Wilderness Act was passed, some of the area was prepared for timber sales. This 14-mile section of the road was paved in the 1970’s in anticipation of those sales. If you are hiking in the area, you may notice trees marked for cutting. Timber harvest is not allowed in designated wilderness... More

35. Hell's Half Acre Lookout Road #224

Mile: 72.8 Elevation: 4950

The road to Hells Half Acre Lookout is 11 miles long and extremely steep, narrow and rocky.

36. Hells Half Acre Lookout

Elevation: 8116'

The lookout is staffed during fire season. The West Fork and Red River Districts can contact the tower by radio for permission to visit.

This is a very scenic view. A must visit spot.

37. Nez Perce Pass

Mile: 81.0 Elevation: 6589

An information board at the pass interprets the history of the area and provides visitors with general information about this spectacular area. There is a large parking area, toilet and stock facilities.

A helicopter landing site is located at the pass. Please do not park on the landing zone.

The Idaho/Montana state ... More

38. Fales Flat Group Campsite

This campground is named for Wesley Fales, a trapper, woodsman, and early Forest Service employee, who located a homestead on the flat around 1914. He built a cabin there which burned about 1940.

Since he did not complete the patent process on his homestead, the entry was cancelled in June, 1929. Fales Flat was also the site of a CCC camp in... More

39. Pavement Ends

Mile: 87.8

40. Little West Fork Campground

Elevation: 4580'

Segments of the original CCC road are often visible about 25 feet north of the present day road. Remnants of the historic bridges are visible at Watchtower Creek and Little West Fork Creek. In the winter, this is a parking lot for snowmobilers.

We did not visit this site.

41. Hwy. 473 & Nez Perce (Magruder) Road Junction

Mile: 97.7

Turning onto Hwy 473 starts you paralleling the beautiful Bitterroot River all the way to Connor. This is a very scenic area with a lot of summer homes.

42. West Fork Ranger Station

Mile: 98.5 Elevation: 4383

Visitors are encouraged to stop and ask questions about maps, road conditions, weather and any other concerns. After office hours, a map is available outside the office.

West Fork Ranger District
6735 West Fork Road
Darby, MT 59829
(406) 821-3269

The lodge is a combination motel and restaurant. Tex, the owner, is a great cook and story teller. We stayed here.

There is more info here: http://www.westforklodge.com/

44. Conner, Montana

The Conner Grocery & Deli is located at 159 Conner Cutoff Rd, Conner, MT 59827-9703. Telephone #(406) 821-4122.

They sell non-ethanol gasoline, food, and sundries.

45. Darby, Montana

Mile: 116.9

Darby offers motels, gasoline, and food.