Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located in the extreme southwest portion of Montana near the Idaho border. The refuge has one of the most naturally diverse areas in the refuge system. It boasts the largest wetland complex within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as well as expansive tracts of grassland, sagebrush, steppe habitats and forested areas.
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 to protect waterfowl and migratory birds. The refuge was also the last known breeding area for trumpeter swans. Through extensive efforts throughout the country trumpeter swans' populations now thrive. Today, the Refuge continues to be one of the most important habitats in North America for these majestic birds.
Here you will find abundant opportunities to hike, fish, take pictures, and observe a variety of wildlife and flowers, but at our 6,700 feet elevation, we recommend sturdy footwear, warm clothing, rain gear, and good binoculars and spotting scope for optimum enjoyment. While visiting the Refuge, feel free to stop by the headquarters in Lakeview and take a look at our impressive Trumpeter Swan display. The Refuge is open year round from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed on Federal holidays.
Although many animals roam the refuge including moose, sandhill cranes, curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, badgers, wolverines, bears, antelope, wolves, Arctic grayling fish and west slope cutthroat trout, this is primarily a bird sanctuary, providing habitat for over 230 species of birds. Bird-watching is prime with 50,000 ducks and geese and up to 2,000 tundra and trumpeter swans gathering in early fall. Springtime provides nesting grounds for the sandhill cranes.
Two primitive campgrounds are maintained within the Refuge. The Upper Lake Campground has trees, toilets, potable spring water, fire rings, picnic tables and is close to mountain hiking trails and a small Aspen grove. The River Marsh Campground is an open grassland with toilets and fire rings, and is the best place to see water birds. There is no electrical power at either campground.
Wheelchair-accessible facilities, picnic tables and toilets are available at the headquarters and Upper Lake Campground. Camping is permitted for a maximum of 16 consecutive days at both campgrounds. Camping is not permitted outside established campgrounds. Fires are permitted only in campground grates. Firewood is not provided but dead or downed timber can be collected nearby. Chain saws are prohibited. The Refuge does not take reservations; camping is on a 'first come, first serve' basis. Fees do apply at $7.00 per night or $5.00 per night with a Federal Inter-agency Annual, Senior, Access or Volunteer Pass. Extra vehicles are $4.00 per night. Please pack in-pack out your trash.
- Antelope Hunting
- Big Game
- Bird Watching
- Cross-Country Skiing
- Deer Hunting
- Elk Hunting
- Nature Area
- Stream Fishing
- Waterfowl Hunting
- Wildlife Viewing
Services And Amenities
- Handicapped Accessible
- Interpretive Display
- Pets Allowed
- Public Restroom
The best time to visit the Refuge is from May through September. Refuge headquarters can be reached by turning off Interstate 15 at Monida, Montana, Exit 0, and driving 28 miles east on an improved (partially graveled) dirt road.
Coming from West Yellowstone, follow US Highway 20 for about 17 miles to Red Rock Pass Road, just south of Henry's Lake. Turn west and follow this road for 30 miles to reach the refuge headquarters. The round trip through the Refuge averages about 100 miles. From November to April the refuge is not accessible from Henry's Lake. In winter many roads are not maintained and may be impassable. Inquire ahead of time for road conditions.
Season / Hours Of Operation
- Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 4:00pm