The sign along US 93 in Darby directs you to the historic building that is the Darby Visitors Center, next door to the Darby Ranger Station.

Volunteers like Terry Hinman (L. in photo) answer questions, issue permits and provide maps to anyone who wants to visit the Bitterroot National Forest.

If you want advice on hiking trails and a free mushroom permit, stop by. If you want to know about road closures, fire danger or other events on the forest, stop by. And, if you want a friendly smile, stop by.

Most of the volunteers are retired from the US Forest Service. They enjoy keeping an historic building as an active part of the forest. The ranger station was built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Bitterroot Hotshot Fire Crew used the building from 1965 to 1990. The building was restored in 1991 and now has become a small museum - including a recreation of a ranger's office, a collection of old radio equipment, saddles and snowshoes and more. You're invited to wander around and step back in time.

The center is at 712 North Main in Darby. Their telephone number is (406) 821-3913.

The center is open Monday through Saturday during the summer. On Saturdays, the hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.