In the Bob Marshall Wilderness, native cutthroats teem in three forks of the Flathead River-vital, transparent races of water that vein a vast roll of mountains where every other feature of land has been named for its bears: Silvertip Mountain, White Bear Creek, Grizzly Gulch. It is a measure of these great predators that you feel their presence in the palpable silence invoked by true wilderness. Here it’s not easy to keep your mind on the fishing long enough to follow the drift of your fly without turning your head to search the forest for movement. Accessed only by foot or horseback, the Flathead demands a commitment of time and sweat, but if you believe that God resides in the mountains, as did the ancient Greeks, then this is as close to heaven on earth as you’re likely to find. More info: Spotted Bear Ranger Station, 406-758-5376. Spotted Bear Ranch, 800-223-4333;

Next Best: Thoroughfare of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming It’s not unheard of for someone paddling a canoe into the Thoroughfare of the Yellowstone River for native cutthroats to be put up a tree by a grizzly bear that had decided men didn’t belong there. This is the remotest region in all the contiguous states. Maybe the bear had it right. Don’t be surprised if the Thoroughfare is temporarily off-limits due to bruin activity. More info: Backcountry Office of Yellowstone National Park, 307-344-2160;