Red Rock Lakes NWR is primarily a high elevation mountain wetland-riparian area the largest in the Greater Yellowstone Area and is located near the headwaters of the Missouri River. Several creeks flow into the Refuge lies, creating the impressive Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake wetlands. The rugged Centennial Mountains border the Refuge on the south, catching the snows of winter that replenish the Refuges lakes and wetlands.
These wetlands provide secluded habitat for the trumpeter swan, white-faced ibis, and black-crowned night herons. The Refuge also includes wet meadows, riparian shrublands, grasslands, and forest habitats.
This diversity provides habitat for other species such as sandhill cranes, long-billed curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, numerous hawks, moose, badgers, bears, wolves, pronghorns and native fish such as Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout.
Although much of the Refuge lands were originally homesteaded at the turn of the century, Refuge management has restored much of the naturalness to the area. This approach gained Red Rock Lakes NWR the distinction of being designated a National Natural Landmark, as well as becoming one of the few wetland Wilderness Areas in the country. As such, we continue to manage for primitive wilderness values where humans are visitors, with minimal permanent impact on the landscape, and wildlife move freely with minimal human interaction. Physical facilities are limited and commercialism is minimized, creating a rare un-crowded do-it-yourself experience. In keeping with the wilderness spirit, visitors are free to explore the country the way wildlife see it, following in the trails and tracks of moose, elk, and deer. Outside the designated Wilderness Area there are two maintained trails to experience all that the refuge has to offer.