Gallery: Side-by-Sides in Montana’s Lolo National Forest

We spent five days driving side-by-sides in Montana’s majestic Lolo National Forest.

The kind of beauty Montana offers is almost inconceivable. It’s so commonplace out here to be confronted by a towering peak or cliff or raging river that much of the most beautiful scenery can be found off random interstate exits. We spent a week there driving street-legal side-by-sides around the Lolo National Forest, and came away with the thirst to keep going back.

The aptly named Cliff Lake is impossibly beautiful, and sits at the far end of a little-used trail.Justin W. Coffey
UTVs are legal on surface roads out here, meaning that the public gravel roads that crisscross the forest are perfectly legal to drive on.Justin W. Coffey
There are grand vistas of seemingly endless mountains…Justin W. Coffey
Do not be caught without tools and recovery gear.Justin W. Coffey
Even in June, the snow can fall thick and fast, which means you need to be ready for just about anything.Justin W. Coffey
The Can-Am Defender HD-10 is just about perfect for exploring out here.Justin W. Coffey
We were overjoyed to have two side-by-sides with windshields and doors on the chilly late spring days.Justin W. Coffey
With two UTVs with spacious beds, we had plenty of food, water, fuel, and rescue equipment.Justin W. Coffey
Snowfall means deadfall, and deadfall means clearing the trail as you go.Justin W. Coffey
Butch Brevig, our guide for the week, making short work of a downed cedar tree.Justin W. Coffey
Smack in the middle of this alpine meadow sits a campsite that has to be seen to be understood.Justin W. Coffey
There is no such thing as a bad place for a cup of coffee in Lolo National Forest.Justin W. Coffey
A lot of land out here was logged at some point, leaving wide-open views.Justin W. Coffey
The roads that cross the national forest are almost as entertaining as the scenery.Justin W. Coffey
A set of tracks is often the only way to get around in the higher elevations if you don’t want to walk.Justin W. Coffey
Rain and snowmelt this time of year mean that there are plenty of puddles to navigate.Justin W. Coffey
Sheltered campsites are everywhere, and they all feel enchanted.Justin W. Coffey
Snacks, water, and gas are essential extras.Justin W. Coffey
Cliff Lake was easily the highlight of the trip.Justin W. Coffey
Lolo National Forest is rather short on technical driving, but if you come here for that, you’re missing the point.Justin W. Coffey
At a certain point, the Can-Am’s stock 28-inch tires were too little for the layers of snow.Justin W. Coffey

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