Plan Your Visit

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Black Coulee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) provides visitors wildlife-dependent recreation opportunities.


Black Coulee NWR and Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) (The WPA and Refuge are located adjacent to one another.) provide numerous recreation opportunities such as viewing wildlife and plants, photography, hiking, and hunting. Regulation of recreation activities allow for public enjoyment of the Refuge while still protecting the wildlife and habitats.

  • Black Coulee NWR and WPA are open from dusk till dawn.
  • Public access off of the gravel public road is via foot travel only.
  • Parking is allowed off of the road and at entrances, as long as access gates are not blocked.
  • No camping or overnight parking is allowed on the Refuge.
  • Hiking is allowed in all areas open to the public.
  • Wildlife observation and photography are encouraged.
  • Bicycling and horseback riding are allowed only on the public highway, and not on any lands within the boundaries.
  • Boating is allowed only during the waterfowl hunting season in the fall, with boats being transported via foot from parking areas to the wetland.
  • Portions of Black Coulee NWR are under easements of private lands. Persons wishing to access these private lands must gain permission from the private landowner.
  • Fishing is not allowed on the Refuge portion of Black Coulee, and open on the waterfowl production area as per state regulations, however the wetland does not contain any sport fish.
  • Only non-motorized boats are permitted during the fall waterfowl season.
  • All boats and other personal property must be removed at the end of the day.
  • Sport hunting is permitted on the Refuge in accordance with all state and federal regulations. Please see the Bowdoin Wetland Management District Public Use Regulations Brochure for more rules and regulations.
  • Firearms and other weapons are subject to state law. At all times, persons possessing, transporting, or carrying firearms on National Wildlife Refuge System lands must comply with all provisions of State and local law. Persons may only use (discharge) firearms in accordance with refuge regulations (50 CFR 27.42 and specific refuge regulations in 50 CFR Part 32), i.e., only during the lawful pursuit of game during legal seasons.
  • Dogs must be kept on a leash from 15 April to 15 August.
  • Other prohibitions on the Refuge are off-road vehicles; and collecting of plants, animals, minerals, antlers and artifacts.

Black Coulee NWR is a minimum of 45 minutes from food and fuel of Harlem, Montana. The road going to Black Coulee NWR is gravel, and during wet conditions can be difficult to drive. Be prepared with fuel, water, and food. For driving directions, please visit our "Contact Us" page.

For more questions about recreation, please contact us.