The Bear Paw Mountains, in a sense, are the forgotten stepchild of mountains in Montana. To be sure, there are more famous and more visited mountain ranges in the state. The Beartooth Mountains, for example, boast the state's tallest mountain‒Granite Peak‒which is 12,807 feet tall. And they also have the scenic Beartooth Highway. The Lewis Range features Glacier National Park. The Absaroka Range forms the eastern boundary of Yellowstone National Park along a place called the Paradise Valley; a name which should give any other mountain range an inferiority complex. The Pryor Mountains are famous for wild horses, the Swan Range is famous for the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Flathead Range has magnificent skiing, and the Bitterroot Mountains, Sapphire Range, Garnet Range, Rattlesnake Mountains, and the Reservation Divide all serve as a beautiful backdrop for the city of Missoula. But sitting alone, surrounded by prairie, are the Bear Paw Mountains. And in their own right they are every bit as beautiful and interesting as Montana's many other groups of mountains in the state.
Located in Blaine, Chouteau, and Hill Counties, the Bear Paw Mountains are considered an island mountain range. Baldy Mountain, which rises 6,916 feet high is the highest peak in the Bear Paws. And although many have argued for years over their exact name (some say the correct name is Bears Paw Mountains, others say Bear's Paw Mountains, and still others say the correct name is Bearpaw Mountains), virtually every local who lives in the shadow of them and every newspaper of record in the area calls them the Bear Paw Mountains.
I first laid eyes on the Bear Paw Mountains in 2010. They seemed way off in the distance when I arrived in Havre. Growing up I had not seen any mountains up close until I was 27 years of age. And though the Bear Paw Mountains were not rugged like the Rocky Mountain front, and not as tall as the peaks in the Beartooth Range, they were nonetheless inviting. The north side of the mountains, for the most part, were polished smooth by the glaciers during the Ice Age. The south side of the mountain range is more rocky and rugged. But the real beauty of the mountains is located within the hills and peaks in between, where many people live, work, and play.
Over the years I have many photos of the Bear Paw Mountains. In this my latest installment of 20+ photos I am including many more than 20 photographs of the Bear Paw Mountains...a mountain range few people outside of north central Montana will ever see. But perhaps you should.
So please take a moment to flip through my Bear Paw Mountains photographs, which compliment my many other photos of Montana. These are the scenes and scenery people who live in this region enjoy all of the time. And perhaps one of the big reasons you don't know about the Bear Paw Mountains is because that's how the locals would have it. Why else would you want to share these beautiful landscapes with anyone else?