Red Rock Lakes Wilderness

Fish and Wildlife Service, Montana.

The Red Rock Lakes Wilderness now contains a total of 32,350 acres and is managed by the Fish & Wildlife Service's Red Rock Lakes Ntional Wildlife Refuge. All of the Wilderness is in the state of Montana. In 1976 the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness became part of the now over 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has often been called one of the most beautiful national wildlife refuges in the United States. The rugged Centennial Mountains, rising to more than 9,000 feet, hang above the Centennial Valley wetlands and provide a dramatic backdrop for this remote Refuge. It was here, in the early 1930’s, among the inherent solitude and expansive wetlands that the last remaining trumpeter swans (thought to be extinct) were found nesting. Shortly thereafter, in 1935, the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was established.

Today, the Refuge contains roughly 50,735 acres with just over 32,000 acres receiving Wilderness designation in 1976. This high mountain Refuge, contains the largest wetland complex within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well as a myriad of other habitats. Although many visitors come solely to catch a glimpse of the elegant trumpeter swans or a moose, the Refuge often surprises visitors with its remoteness and fantastic scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The diverse habitats of the Refuge attract a variety of birds, including sandhill cranes,sage grouse, great blue herons, willets, avocets, long-billed curlews, grebes, short-eared horned owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, marsh wrens, mountain bluebirds, tree swallows, western meadowlarks, vesper sparrows and 18 species of duck to name a few. Elk, deer and pronghorn return to the valley in the spring, just in time for the wildflower bloom and impressive mosquito hatch. Year-round residents include moose, wolf, red fox, badger, coyote, pika, raven and grizzly bear.

Nearby Activities


Directions: The RRL refuge can be reached from the west on Interstate 15 in Montana (turn off on the Exit 0 off-ramp towards South Valley road). From the east, take US 20 in Idaho and exit at the Red Rock Road and follow the signs west to the refuge. The distance to the Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge Lakeview Headquarters is about 28 miles from either direction. Much of the road is a wide gravel road maintained only from about May through October. Access is limited or impossible due to snow after these dates. Careful consideration should be taken if it has been rainy. Also, it is not recommended for large motorhomes due to the rough road conditions in places.

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