U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service logo A Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System
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Charles M. Russell
National Wildlife Refuge

A large mule deer buck stands gazing at the photographer.  Mule deer have larger ears than white-tailed deer as well as a black-tipped tail.
333 Airport Road
Lewistown, MT   59457
E-mail: cmr@fws.gov
Phone Number: 406-538-8706
Visit the Refuge's Web Site:
For centuries, people have been awed by the wildlife and landscapes found on Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. (Photo by Don Jones)
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  Recreation and Education Opportunities

Environmental Education
A variety of environmental education and interpretive programs are available for school and civic groups. These programs can be scheduled both at the Center and as outreach programs for the surrounding community.

Boating and fishing is permitted on the Missouri River and Fort Peck Reservoir. Numerous boat ramps and several marinas are located around the Refuge. Fishing for walleye, sauger, paddlefish, and northern pike, among other species, is very popular. A state license is required, and state limits and seasons apply. The uppermost 12 miles of the Missouri River within Refuge form part of the Wild and Scenic Missouri River. Canoeing is popular during warmer months. The James Kipp Recreation Area, located just east of U.S. Highway 191 on the south bank of the river is an excellent take-out point. Upstream motorized travel is restricted between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The Refuge is open to hunting for the following species: whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, coyotes, upland game birds, waterfowl, and mourning doves. A state license is required, and special regulations may apply. Some satellite Refuges and Waterfowl Productions Areas that are part of the Charles M. Russell NWR Complex are open to hunting. A state license is required and state regulations apply. Please contact Refuge staff for additional information.

A variety of brochures and informational materials are available at the Refuge headquarters and all Wildlife Stations. A self-guided auto tour route starts 0.5 miles north of the Missouri River on the east side of U.S. Highway 191. The tour route follows an all-weather gravel road that parallels the Missouri River before climbing out onto upland prairie and rolling rangeland. The drive time for this 20-mile loop is about 2 hours. Tour guides are available from the Refuge headquarters or the Sand Creek Wildlife Station. Numerous interpretive panels are found throughout the Refuge including the Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing Area, the entrance to UL Bend NWR, and at Hell Creek.

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Wildlife Observation
The Refuge is home to many species of wildlife. Sixty species of mammals and more than 235 species of birds have been observed on the Refuge. Bird watching provides opportunities to see many northern prairie grassland species such as western meadowlarks, mountain plovers, chestnut-collared longspurs, and prairie falcons. Large ungulates such as elk, mule deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep are common, while native predators like coyote, bobcat, and mountain lion are secretive and not commonly seen. Hundreds of elk congregate during the fall rut, providing a spectacular wildlife viewing opportunity at the Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing Area. Contact the Refuge staff at the headquarters for the latest information.

The auto tour route and western river bottoms are excellent locations for elk, deer, and birds. The Big Dry Arm of the Fort Peck Reservoir is the best place to photograph pronghorn. Sage and sharp-tailed grouse are found throughout the Refuge, but are best seen at UL Bend NWR. Elk are frequently observed on the north side of the reservoir near the Pines Recreation Area, Harper's Ridge, Mickey and Brandon Buttes, and the Larb Hills. Bighorn sheep may be seen at Two Calf Creek or in the Brandon Buttes.

Satellite Refuges and Waterfowl Production Areas are also open to wildlife observation and photography.

All Refuge Complex offices are open from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, except on Federal holidays.

Summer hours of operation for the Interpretive Center are May 1 through September 30, open every day 9am to 5pm. Our fall/winter schedule will run October 1 through April 30, when we will be open Monday through Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Entrance Fees
The Refuge does not charge an entrance fee.

Use Fees
The Refuge does not charge user fees (i.e., hunt fees, camping fees, boat launch, meeting rooms rental fees, auto tour fees, guided tour fees, etc.).
- Refuge Profile Page -