Visitor Maps
Refuge Map
Hunting Map
Waterfowl Production Area Map
Fishing Map

Regional Travel
Montana Travel –Missouri River Country
Northeast Montana Birding Trail
Refuge Weather Information
Current Refuge Weather


Viewing wildlife is one of the most popular activities within the refuge complex.

Bird List
Mammal List

Observation Tower
A 99-foot-high observation tower is located at the refuge headquarters. It provides visitors a unique vista to the western half of the refuge. It is open most of the year, but closes when climatic conditions prohibit climbing the 135 steps to the top. Photo of Observation Tower

Wildlife Drive
The wildlife drive begins on the entrance road to the refuge headquarters which follows the north shore of Medicine Lake heading east from Highway 16. The drive traverses 14 miles of wetland and grassland habitat. As you travel east, you will pass by lakes and ponds that support many different species. Placards are positioned along the drive to give visitors more information on natural and cultural resources as well as management practices. Visitors can continue on to the pelican overlook. Thi s hand icapped-accessible viewing platform provides binoculars so visitors can observe the American white pelican colony on Big Island and/or Bridgerman Point. Also look for great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, and double crested comorants as well as several gull and tern species nesting on Bridgerman Point.

The condition of the gravel roads throughout the refuge is usually good, but we may issue temporary closures if rain or snow cause the roads to become hazardous. During the hunting season (Sept 30 - Jan 1), a portion of the Wildlife Drive is closed to travel to protect migratory birds. During this time you may still access the east section of the wildlife drive via East Lake Highway .

Sandhills Wilderness Area
For peace and quiet, spend some time in the Sandhills Wilderness Area. This unique sandy habitat showcases plants not found anywhere else on the refuge.

Sharp Tailed Grouse Observation Blind
Grouse Video
Sharp Tailed Grouse Article

The Refuge has an observation blind near a sharp-tailed grouse dancing ground, providing an excellent opportunity to get an up-close view of this fascinating ritual of nature.

Each spring male sharp-tailed grouse return to traditional breeding grounds, called leks. With white tails pointed skyward, they stomp their feet at a frantic pace, creating a drumming noise. Between displays, they make gurgling noises by expelling air from the purple sac located on either side of their neck. On a calm day, their commotion can be heard from more than a mile away.

Dancing is most intense during the morning hours, but evenings can also yield some action. Morning visitors should plan to arrive at the blind about one hour before sunrise and stay until the birds are done displaying for the day (usually 1 to 2 hours after sunrise).

The observation blind is available for free seven days a week, from mid-April to the end of May on a reservation basis. The blind fits two to four people, three camp stools are provided. The blind is approximately a 2 1/4 mile drive east from the refuge headquarters, and only about 100 yards south of the road.

Reservations and directions can be obtained at the Refuge Headquarters (789-2305). Don't forget your video and/or still camera.

Approximate Sunrise Times

Early April 06:30

Mid April


Late April


Early May


Mid May


Late May


Early June


Environmental Education
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge makes a great outdoor classroom for your school, scout, or civic group. Refuge staff can assist group leaders in planning a trip to the refuge, and depending on availability may be able to accompany a tour. Three kiosks on the refuge provide general information and direction, maps, and brochures.

Off-site education programs are sometimes available depending on staff availability. Topics include: birds, wildlife, grasslands and wetlands.

Education Links
Let's Go Outside! U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Children and Nature
Prairie Wetlands Learning Center
Educating for Conservation


Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge
223 North Shore Road
Medicine Lake , MT 59247


Office Hours
Monday – Friday 7:00 am to 3:30 pm
Mountain Standard Time

406/789-2305 PHONE
406789-2350 FAX EMAI

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Department of the Interior Accessibility Privacy Notices Disclaimer FOIA


Sharp-tailed grouse entertain visitors with theatrical dances during the spring breeding season.
The flute-like song of the Baird's sparrow fills refuge prairies each summer.
Lucky visitors may spot a badger. These impressive carnivores make their home in grassland communities, living mostly on ground squirrels.
Youth groups enjoy viewing wildlife and are seldom disappointed on a refuge tour. USFWS Photo