Helena National Forest

Quick Facts

Helena National Forest

Montana

(406) 449-5201

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located in west-central Montana, the Helena National Forest surrounds Montana's Capital City and offers close to one million acres of distinctive landscapes. The Forest is administered by District headquarters in Lincoln, Helena, and Townsend, with the Supervisor's Office also located in Helena. Straddling the Continental Divide, the Helena National Forest is rich with natural and cultural resources. Its diverse topography and geology provides wonderful scenery and many recreational opportunities. The Forest's mountain ranges contain a wide diversity of plant and animal life. Native cutthroat trout and other fish species populate clear mountain lakes and streams. Evidence of past human use, ranging from ancient Indian cliff paintings to historic mining ruins, is everywhere. The Scapegoat Wilderness occupies the far northwest portion of the Forest, about ten air miles north of the community of Lincoln, Montana. Nestled in the upper Blackfoot River drainage, Lincoln is a popular destination for big game hunting and snowmobiling, much of which takes place on the National Forest. On his return trip from the Pacific Ocean in 1806, Meriwether Lewis followed an ancient Nez Perce trail, the Cokalarishkit, which parallels the Blackfoot River before crossing the Continental Divide in the Alice Creek area. The Big Belt Mountain Range lies east of Helena, extending south to Townsend. The Gates of the Mountains Wilderness area is situated on the north end of the Big Belts and takes its name from the distinctive cliffs along the Missouri River noted in the journals of Lewis and Clark. Much of the Big Belts are dissected by rugged limestone canyons and provide scenic enjoyment for hikers and motorists.

Map of Helena Nat'l Forest

Latitude, Longitude: 46.684096, -111.379897

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Activities

  • Bicycling

    The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities for activities such as mountain biking.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Driving for pleasure is one of the most popular recreation activities on the Helena National Forest. It provides excellent opportunities to view the abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery located throughout the Forest.

  • Camping

    The Helena National Forest has several developed sites including family and group campgrounds. Most campgrounds are managed as fee sites open to the public from Memorial Day through mid-September. here are seven administrative cabins available for public use on the Helena National Forest. These rustic cabins, rented for a small fee, offer a unique opportunity for primitive lodging.

  • Fishing

    Fishing on the forest's lakes and streams is a popular activity.

  • Hiking

    The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities for hikers and backpackers of all levels.

  • Historic Sites

    The Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806 spent many months traveling through the varied scenery of Montana. Many areas of the landscape along the expedition's route on the Helena National Forest look much the same as in 1805-1806. Visit the routes of the famous explorers on public lands in the HNF area. Specific brochures detailing the history and prehistory of the Gates of the Mountains and of theLewis and Clark Pass area are available at district offices as well as at the Supervisor's Office in Helena.

  • Horseback Riding

    The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities for activities such as horseback riding.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is permitted in accordance with Montana state regulations.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities for activities such as OHV use.

  • Picnicking

    Campgrounds provide picnicking facilities for visitors

  • RVing

    Many campgrounds have amenities for RV users.

  • Winter Sports

    The Helena National Forest manages over 1,000 miles of designated trails. These routes provide a variety of challenge and opportunities for activities such as snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing.

Directions

Driving

From Helena, south on State highway 287 to State highway 284 will lead you to the forest.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(406) 449-5201

Links