Birding the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area
Directions: Thirty-six miles north of Helena, take I-15 exit at Wolf Creek, turn left on frontage road, then, right on Beartooth Road for six miles. Augusta is located 41 miles north of Wolf Creek at the junction of Highways 287 and 435.
General information: The Beartooth Wildlife Management Area is a 31,798-acre area owned by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. The WMA is open to the public from May 15 through November 30. The main road into the WMA can be accessed by automobile when roads are dry. Boat access to the WMA is available from Holter Lake boat launches. Hiking trails are also open to horseback riding and some mountain biking. The town of Augusta is located east of the Rocky Mountain Front. The varied habitats of this area contain a variety of birds. Good birding, as well as access to trailheads for Dearborn River Canyon, Falls Creek and Elk Creek can be found by traveling Highway 434 south of Augusta, along the Rocky Mountain Front to Wolf Creek.
Habitats: The Beartooth Wildlife Management Area is dominated by intermountain grasslands and open, burned and unburned Ponderosa Pine forests. Remnant patches of Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine forests can be found on north-facing slopes. Several creeks bisect the area, supporting riparian tree and shrub habitat. The Augusta area contains mountain forest, foothill, prairie pothole and grassland habitats.
Species of note: Trumpeter Swan, Horned Grebe, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Upland Sandpiper, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Black-backed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, Olive-sided, Hammond’s, Dusky, and Cordilleran Flycatcher, Western Bluebird, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend’s Solitaire, Veery, Sprague’s Pipit, Orange-crowned Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Yellow- breasted Chat, Western Tanager, Lark Sparrow, Baird’s Sparrow and Lazuli Bunting. Holter Lake can be good for waterfowl and other waterbirds including Common Loon, several species of grebes, and American White Pelican.
Best viewing seasons: May - September; June is prime for nesting songbirds.
Download the Southwest Montana Birding Brochure
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 E. 6th Ave.
Helena, MT 59620
Helena Area Chamber of Commerce
225 Cruse Ave.
Helena, MT 59601