Plan Your Visit

A blazing orange sunset seen across Ninepipe NWR with two people silhouetted against the reflecting water.  Photo by Dave Fitzpatrick, Volunteer NBR/USFWS

Please take advantage of the outstanding opportunities available for wildlife observation, photography, and fishing. Hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing are also permitted on the Refuge, but please be mindful of regulations and closed areas, and comply with all posted signs.


Access to Ninepipe NWR changes throughout the year to accommodate nesting birds, the purpose for which the Refuge was established. Driving on Ninepipe Road, which crosses the dam that creates Ninepipe Reservoir, is available year round. This road travels along the deeper side of the Reservoir. Walking is limited on the Refuge as water comprises over 80% of the area and much of the land is very wet during the spring. A short interpretive trail can be found at the Ninepipe Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area located off Highway 93. Check out the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Park’s webpage for photos of the trail.

Ninepipe NWR is open daily during daylight hours (closes to all public use at night) with restrictions to access as follows:

March 1 - July 14

     Areas along the north part of the Refuge, portion just south of Wildlife Viewing Site, open to access.  All other areas, including portions of the ice, closed to all public use.
July 15 - to Start of Waterfowl Season
     Entire Refuge open (except for offshore islands)
Waterfowl Season     
     Entire Refuge closed to public access
End of Waterfowl Season - end February      Entire Refuge open

Please be aware of special closures due to low water, fire danger, safety concerns, and other unforeseen events. Comply with all posted signs. (Follow the link to the Public Use Pamphlet with maps.)

Under a cooperative agreement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the general recreation fee is waived for non-consumptive use of Ninepipe NWR by non-members of the Tribes. In turn, this allows fees to be waived for waived for CSKT tribal members visiting the National Bison Range. Tribal recreational fees for fishing are required.

Weather Conditions

The portion of the Flathead Valley in which the Range is located has a microclimate usually characterized by relatively mild winter temperatures and little wind. Snow cover melts quickly at lower elevations. Summer tempera­tures seldom exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit and because of low humidity, nights can be fairly cool. Freezing condi­tions generally occur from late November through March. Precipitation averages about 15 inches annually at the Refuge. Low precipitation along with summer thunderstorms can lead to naturally occurring wildfires. 


Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation with its northeast corner framed by Highway 93 (eastern boundary) and Highway 212 (northern boundary). To reach the Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area, located off Highway 93, drive 6 miles south of Ronan (1 mile south of the junction with Highway 212). Or from Missoula, take Highway 93 north about 50 miles. The entrance to the site is on the west side of the road.

The other main access point is Ninepipe Road, which is located across the dam on the northwestern edge of the Refuge, off Highway 212 just about 2 miles from the junction with Highway 93. A few parking areas and access points are located around the perimeter of the Refuge. 

Local Amenities

There are no amenties or facilities of any kind at Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge itself. However, the towns of Charlo, Ronan and St Ignatius are close by and have gasoline, restaurants, grocery stores and basic supplies.  

The closest lodging and camping are available in the nearby communities of Ronan and St. Ignatius. For an extensive list of state-wide accommodations, check out the official State Travel Site of Montana

Contact Information

Inquiries can be directed to staff stationed at the National Bison Range (follow the link to the contact information found at the National Bison Range website).