Friday afternoon, the gates were opened on Montana Highway 38, the forest road that connects Hamilton with Philipsburg.

The road starts south of Hamilton and climbs from the Bitterroot Valley up to Skalkaho Pass at a little over 7,000 feet. But before you get there, you'll come around a corner and see the 150-foot waterfall - Skalkaho Falls.

When someone tells you "You can't miss it," they're right. The falls is right next to the road and at the base of the falls the water goes under the road and down the mountainside.

It's at least 30 miles to the falls and there's a wide place in the road to park and stand next to the cooling mist. One of most photographed waterfalls in the valley, Skalkaho Falls never fails to please.

Now, the road is pretty narrow and there are no guard rails, even on the steepest slopes. So drive carefully. Besides, there are animals around that might wander onto the road.

From the falls you can continue east up to the pass and then head down the less intimidating (less mountainsides and more pavement) route into Philipsburg, with all its attractions - gems, sweets and craft beer.