National Bison Range

Quick Facts

National Bison Range

Montana

(406) 644-2211

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Established in 1908, the National Bison Range is one of the oldest national wildlife refuges in the nation. It offers a diverse ecosystem of grasslands, Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forests, riparian areas and ponds. The National Bison Range is one of the last government owned palouse prairie native grasslands in the U.S. It supports herds of bison, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, big horn sheep, and mountain goats as well as various predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, bears and bobcat and a variety of smaller mammals. The refuge has recorded 205 bird species with more added every year. The National Bison Range is an excellent area for outdoor education for students and teachers of all grades and expertise. The accessible nature trail near Mission Creek is superb for riparian and wetland studies. There is also an accessible trail through the grassland near the visitor center. Equipment, activity packets, and field guides are available for use by teachers at these areas. A number of scenic drives and short trails are available to the public visiting the Refuge. The allow visitors to explore a variety of habitats and offers good opportunities to see and photograph wildlife, especially large mammals and birds.

Map of Nat'l Bison Range

Latitude, Longitude: 47.370617, -114.257052

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Activities

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    A number of scenic drives and short trails are available to the public visiting the Refuge. During the summer season (mid-May to late October), the longer Red Sleep Mountain Drive is open. This 19-mile, one-way gravel road gains 2,000 feet in elevation and takes about 1½ to 2 hours to complete. It wind its way through a variety of habitats and offers good opportunities to see and photograph wildlife, especially large mammals and birds.

  • Fishing

    Public walk-in access for fishing is permitted along portions of Mission Creek and the Jocko River within the National Bison Range. An accessible trail and fishing dock are located on Mission Creek along the nature trail. Anglers have the opportunity to fish for trout and whitefish. The Jocko River is open year-round, but is catch and release only.

  • Hiking

    The two short trails near the Visitor Center are open year-round. The Nature Trail is accessible and follows along Mission Creek. The quarter-mile Grassland Trail is located behind the Visitor Center. Two other trails are available during the summer when Red Sleep Mountain Drive is open. These are the half-mile round-trip Bitterroot Trail and the one-mile round trip High Point Trail.

  • Historic Sites

    The visitor center is a good place to begin a visit to the National Bison Range. Exhibits cover the natural history and conservation of bison, and there is a nice skull and skin collection for viewing. An orientation video is shown upon request. A bookstore operated under an agreement with the Glacier Natural History Association provides a good selection of bison books and general field guides. Knowledgeable staff is on-hand to answer questions. During the school year, teachers visiting the Bison Range may request an orientation program for their students.

  • Picnicking

    A day-use picnic area offers a scenic spot to stop for lunch.

  • Wildlife Watching

    A number of scenic drives and short trails are available to the public visiting the Refuge. During the summer season (mid-May to late October), the longer Red Sleep Mountain Drive is open. This 19-mile, one-way gravel road gains 2,000 feet in elevation and takes about 1½ to 2 hours to complete. It winds its way through a variety of habitats and offers good opportunities to see and photograph wildlife, especially large mammals and birds.

Directions

Driving

From the south, take Highway 93 north to Ravalli, turning west on Highway 200 to Highway 212. Travel north on Highway 212 for 5 miles to the entrance. From the north, take Highway 93 south of Polson for 18 miles to State Highway 212; travel 12 miles to the entrance. From the west, turn north off Interstate 90 onto Highway 135 at St. Regis. Turn east at Highway 200 to Highway 212 just east of Dixon. Travel north on Highway 212 for 5 miles.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(406) 644-2211

Links