The Ninemile Historic Ranger Station Visitor Center west of Missoula is a rare museum for a niche of Forest Service history.
The associated Ninemile Remount Depot is a working ranch on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the base for Forest Service Northern region packers and their 10 mules and three horses. The depot’s stock population peaks in the offseason as its fields winter the Northern Region’s 200 head of horses and mules.
Classes on traditional skills are taught at the depot, including mule packing, saw skills, leave-no-trace camping techniques and even Dutch oven cooking.
From 1930 to 1953 the station provided packers and pack animals for fighting fires and backcountry work projects throughout the roadless areas of the Northern Rockies.
Modeled after the U.S. Cavalry stock facilities, the Ninemile Remount Depot had about 35 packers in its heyday and maintained up to 1,500 mules and horses on winter range secured for the animals.
Directions: The Ninemile Visitor Center is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
From I-90 about 22 miles west of Missoula, take Exit 82 and head north 4.5 miles.
On the Web: Friends of the Scotchman Peaks Wilderness at tinyurl.com/muledepot