Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1935 to protect the rare trumpeter swan and migratory birds. Today, the Refuge continues to be one of the most important breeding areas in the Greater Yellowstone Area for these majestic birds.
Here you will find abundant opportunities to hike, fish, hunt, take pictures, and observe a variety of wildlife and flowers, but at our 6,600-foot elevation, we recommend sturdy footwear, warm clothing, rain gear, and good binoculars and spotting scope for optimum enjoyment. Please read the following regulations carefully; it should answer most of your questions. While visiting the Refuge, feel free to stop by the visitor contact station and headquarters in Lakeview to ask questions and see our impressive Trumpeter Swan display. The Refuge is open year round from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed on Federal holidays.
We hope that your visit will be enjoyable. Please familiarize yourself with the following guidelines and regulations for your own protection, as well as for the protection of wildlife. Please refer to the General Brochure for a complete list of regulations. To fish and hunt on the Refuge, please follow all State regulations and refer to the Refuge's General and Hunting Brochure's for Refuge specific regulations.
- Wildlife observation, hiking, and photography are
permitted, except in areas designated as closed for the protection of swans and other
sensitive wildlife. To preserve the wilderness explorer spirit, there are few hiking trails. Instead, nature provides many routes created by animals. You are welcome to cross-country hike throughout open areas of the Refuge from the animal's point of view.
Commercial photographers must obtain a permit at Refuge headquarters.
- Trumpeter swans are extremely sensitive to disturbance and may abandon nests or young if disturbed. Please do not approach nesting swans.
- Pets must be under direct control of the owner or leashed at all times.
- Horses are permitted only for access into mountainous areas south of Red Rock Pass Road. Feed must be weed-free.
- Be prepared for cool summer temperatures, frigid winters, and sudden rain or snow storms during any season.
- Hazardous bogs and sinkholes are found throughout the Refuge. Caution is advised when traveling through wet areas.
- Mosquitoes are abundant from early spring through late summer.
Access for Persons with Disabilities
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to afford persons with disabilities full accessibility or reasonable accommodation. Wheel-chair accessible facilities and toilets are available at the headquarters and Upper Lake Campground. Contact Refuge Headquarters for information or to address accessibility problems. For hearing impaired, use your State Relay System for the Deaf.
Due to the Refuge's remote location, emergency services are limited and cell phone coverage is not reliable. In case of medical emergency, injured or sick visitors can flag down passing vehicles or refuge staff from whom they may obtain assistance or go to the Refuge headquarters during office hours. Volunteer ambulance service is available from Lima, Montana, via 911. The nearest hospitals are located in Dillon and West Yellowstone.
How to Find UsThe best time to visit the Refuge is from May through September. Roads may be impassible at any time, please call the Refuge for road conditions. Gasoline and road service are not available in the area. Fill your tank up before leaving the paved highways. Dirt roads are rough and flat tires are not uncommon. Be prepared and carry a good spare tire in your vehicle.
If travelling on Interstate Highway 15, the Refuge headquarters and visitor contact station can be reached by turning off Interstate Highway 15 at Monida (Exit 0), Montana, and driving 28 miles east on an improved dirt road.
If travelling from West Yellowstone, Montana, follow U.S. 20 southwest for about 17 miles to Red Rock Pass Road, just south of Henry's Lake River. Turn west onto Red Rock Pass Road (mile marker 398). Follow this road for 30 miles (22 miles of dirt road) to reach the Refuge visitor contact station and headquarters.
If travelling from Ennis, Montana follow Montana Highway 287 south for approximately 40 miles. Turn right onto MT/ID Highway 87. Travel 13 miles to Henry's Lake Drive, turn right. Follow the paved road around the west shore of Henry's Lake for approximately 5 miles onto Red Rock Pass Road (improved dirt road), continue following it west for about 25 miles to the Refuge visitor contact station and headquarters.
Access by cars and wheeled vehicles is seasonal, as snows can block roads in winter. South Valley Road from Interstate Highway 15 to Refuge headquarters (Lakeview, MT) is periodically closed throughout the winter and is closed throughout the winter to the east of the headquarters. North Valley and Elk Lake Roads are not plowed during the winter and are closed until about late-April. These roads can still be hazardous and may be impassable for passenger cars until mid-May or later. Please call the Refuge staff to inquire about road conditions before proceeding on to the Refuge.
Snowmobiles are not permitted on the Refuge. However, they are allowed to travel through the Refuge on unplowed public roads (South Valley, North Valley, and Elk Lake Roads) identified by fences and fence posts protruding above the snow.
To purchase a detailed map showing public and private lands around the Refuge please contact the U.S. Forest Service, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in Dillon, MT at (406) 683-3900. Refer to the Interagency Travel Management South Unit Map that includes the Refuge.