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Location: On Highway 93; 63 miles south from Missoula. Population: 730.
Surrounded by 3.5 million acres of pristine Bitterroot Valley wilderness and forest service lands, the historic community of Darby lies nestled in between the spectacular Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. Local portions of Scenic Route Highway 93, which traverses North America from Canada to Mexico, constitute part of the Lewis and Clark Trail and the TransAmerica Bicycle Path. Thirty miles south of Darby, Highway 93 passes close to the 3100-mile long Continental Divide Hiking Trail at Lost Trail Pass into Idaho, where the still undiscovered slopes of Lost Trail Powder Mountain Ski Area receive over 300 inches of snow, and boast a top-notch snow sports school.
Darby’s overall architecture has a distinctive western flair, with log buildings still standing as a reminder of gold mining and fur trading days. In the early 1900s Darby also experienced a boom in the logging and apple orchard industries. Darby’s Pioneer Memorial Museum was one of the area’s first homestead cabins, hand-hewn in 1886 near the mouth of Tin Cup Creek. After it was moved to its present location adjacent to the city park on U.S. Highway 93, it became a museum depository for extensive collections of pioneer family artifacts.
The very first USDA Forest Service ranger station was established in Darby in 1899; the one-room, sod-roofed Alta Cabin still stands in the West Fork Ranger District, and visitors will enjoy the National Museum of Forest Service History located there.
The Bitterroot River is known for some of the finest fishing in the country, making Darby the perfect fishing destination for abundant rainbow, brook and west slope cutthroat trout and mountain whitefish.