Painted Rocks Lake is a reservoir on the West Fork of the Bitterroot that receives a lot fewer visitors than Lake Como and offers better fishing, although irrigation usually draws it down during the late summer and fall. There are Indian pictographs on the rocks to the west of the lake. Painted Rocks Lake is 23 miles southwest of the junction of highways 473 and 93. South of the lake, down West Fork Road, the still-standing Alta Ranger Station was the nation’s first ranger station.
The Bitterroot upstream, south of Darby, becomes a stream with fast action. The river is never far out of sight, and access is easy if you maintain the courtesy of asking permission to cross private property. One fishing-access site warrants mention: The Hannon Memorial Fishing Access Site at Connor allows the angler to fish both the East and the West Forks of the Bitterroot as they converge. Camping is allowed.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition