181 miles, Multiple days
The Magruder Road Corridor extends 95 miles through a vast undeveloped area, offering solitude and pristine beauty, as well as expansive views of the Bitterroot and Clearwater Mountains. It has been known as the Southern Nez Perce Trail, Elk City to Darby Road, Montana Road, and the Parker Trail.
The road enables a traveler to drive along a corridor between Wildernesses nearly twice as large as the combined states of Delaware and Rhode Island. To the north is the 1.2 million acre Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness and to the south the 2.2 million acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness.
This is probably one of the wildest roads in the United States. Its unspoiled beauty cannot be surpassed, as the landscape is much the same as when the Nez Perce Indians and early travelers crossed the area.
The Magruder Road (Forest Road #468) is a single-lane mostly unimproved road which is rocky, steep and winding, with few turnouts for passing oncoming vehicles. The road is not recommended for low-clearance vehicles, motor homes, or vehicles towing trailers. The video in POI #35 (Hell's Half Acre Lookout Road #224) shows typical road conditions that you may expect. The road traverses a vast, remote, and rugged area. Travelers should take adequate provisions and make sure their vehicles are in good condition. Don't run out of gas!
Options on how to visit this area will depend on your individual choices. Starting in either Idaho or Montana will be the first decision. Staying in a hotel, cabin, RV, or tent are all possible in this area. The type of vehicle or the amount of time you want to spend hiking trails into the Wildernesses will also be factors. Just driving the road in a high clearance vehicle will take 8 to 10 hours.
The mountain bikers we met on the trail were being followed by a 4X4 sag wagon carrying their camping gear. ATVs and motorcycles are limited by the amount of fuel and camping gear they can carry. The Burnt Knob LO will require a 4X4 or a willingness to hike uphill for about 1 1/2 miles.
The road from the Montana side is OK for ATV and horse trailers to the Magruder Ranger Station and Selway River and might be considered as part of your planning. RVs can access the Fales Flat Campground from the Montana side of the corridor.
Whatever your choices, this trip will require multiple days. Take your time and enjoy it.
There is no cell phone service in this area.
The mileage figures in the POIs from the Red River Ranger Station to Darby, MT do not include any side trips off FR 468. The mileage figures were obtained from the USFS.
Contact numbers are in the Elk City and West Fork Ranger Station POIs in this guide for current road conditions, weather, and other info.
Depending on the seasons' snowfall, the road is usually clear by July and open through September, sometimes a little longer. It gets cold in October. The elevations in the area vary from 3067' at Paradise Campground to 8196' at Burnt Knob Lookout.
Downed timber can block roads/trails at any time. Much of this area has been burned by forest fires and some type of saw might enable you to continue the trip.
Clothing depends on the weather, but it usually freezes at night all summer. Thunder storms are possible at any time.
Take drinking water with you as none of the ground water in this area is safe to drink without filtering or boiling.
Wild animals, including moose, elk, deer, bear, wolves, cougars, river otters, pine marten, and others are in the area.
Be aware that wolves are very territorial and may attack any dogs with you. Moose cows with calves may attack anything. Don't push your luck with moose! This is also "Bear Country".
Read and abide by the information at the trail heads on how to interact with horses and pack stock you may encounter.
There is no cell phone service in the area.
When we did the trip, we met mountain bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, 4X4 trucks, trucks with stock trailers, and a loose string of pack stock. It still was not crowded.