One of the most popular backroads in Western Montana will be even dustier than usual this summer.

But the changes should improve the drive for recreationists and residents alike, maintaining the road for continued heavy use.

Lolo National Forest hopes to complete construction in November.

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Rock Creek Road needs some work

Rock Creek has been a long-time staple of backcountry, ranch, cabins, and fishing access for decades in Western Montana. And there are times when it is probably the busiest backroad in the entire region.

The road links residents who live year around, or part of the year, at the north end closest to Missoula, or the south end in Granite County. It's also critical for people floating and fishing the legendary trout stream, campers, and hikers accessing spots like the Welcome Creek Wilderness.

All that traffic means the road takes a beating.

RELATED: Time Running Out to Comment on Lolo Forest Plan

Rock Creek, Montana
Dennis Bragg photo

Help coming this summer

Now, Lolo NF has a contractor lined up for a $1.8 million project to resurface the road, and improve drainage for the entire 20-mile length within the forest boundaries. That will also improve sediment and stream conditions for aquatic species, including the threatened bull trout.

“We recognize that construction activities can be an inconvenience, however, longer-term benefits will be numerous.” -Crystal Stonesifer, District Ranger, Missoula Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest.

The contractor will stockpile materials and equipment near the end of the pavement, with work starting July 1st, after the Rock Creek float season. There won't be any road closures, but delays could last up to 30 minutes, and Lolo NF is asking everyone to slow down and follow directions, especially through the work zones. Work also won't impact boat launches, trailheads, cabins, or property access.

Funding for the project comes from the Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund provided through the Great American Outdoors Act.

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