Visitor Activities

Boy and Man with spotting scope 512x219

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities at Swan River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), from bird-watching to waterfowl hunting, and fishing to snowshoeing. Check the Public Use Brochure for Swan River NWR.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is an important wildlife management tool that we recognize as a healthy, traditional outdoor pastime, deeply rooted in America’s heritage. Hunting can instill a unique understanding and appreciate of wildlife, their behavior, and their habitat needs.

    Portions of the Refuge are open to waterfowl hunting following Montana State Regulations. All other hunting and trapping is prohibited on the Refuge. See the Public Use Brochure (404 KB PDF) and accompanying map for more details or contact the Refuge Manager at 406-727-7400.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is pleased to announce the expansion of hunting opportunities at Swan River National Wildlife Refuge, starting in fall of 2020. Click the thumbnail below to view a short video that provides details about this exciting opportunity.

    Ben Swan River Hunt Fish 2020

  • Fishing

    In addition to the conservation of wildlife and habitat, the National Wildlife Refuge System offers a wide variety of quality fishing opportunities. Fishing programs promote understanding and appreciation of natural resources and their management on all lands and waters in the Refuge System. Every year, about 7 million anglers visit national wildlife refuges, where knowledgeable staff and thousands of volunteers help them have a wonderful fishing experience.

    Fishing is allowed per Montana State regulations on Swan Lake and Swan River. Fishing on the rest of the Refuge is only permitted on the portion of Spring Creek north of Bog Road Trail and only during the waterfowl hunting season. This is to avoid disturbing migratory bird nesting and brood rearing. Boating is allowed through the Refuge on Swan River, although this section of the river is a ”No-Wake Zone”.

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  • Wildlife Viewing

    If you enjoy getting outdoors and looking for wildlife, consider a visit to your nearest national wildlife refuge! From birding to bear watching, from viewing white-tailed deer or swimming muskrats, wildlife observation is the most popular activity for Swan River NWR visitors. There is an accessible information kiosk and viewing platform within a short distance of the parking area. For more information about wildlife observation opportunities at Swan River NWR, contact Jim Lange at 406-727-7400, extension 228 or e-mail:

  • Photography

    Perhaps the fastest growing activity on national wildlife refuges in the past ten years has been wildlife photography. That’s not surprising – the digital camera population explosion and cell phones with ever-improving picture-taking abilities are increasing the number of nature photographers at a rapid rate. You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment or have any experience to get started. A small camera or basic cell phone will do just fine for most visitors.

    Nearly 12 million people visit outdoor areas each year to photograph wildlife, and national wildlife refuges naturally are at the top of the list. Refuges provide enhanced opportunities to photograph wildlife in natural habitats by providing platforms, brochures, interpreters, viewing areas, and tour routes. Wildlife photography is a high-priority activity in the Refuge System. We welcome beginning and expert photographers alike to record their outdoor adventures on film, memory card, or internal hard drive!

  • Interpretation

    There are interpretive panels at the information kiosk and the viewing platform that highlight the Refuge’s value to wildlife.

  • Environmental Education

    There are currently no formal Environmental Education programs at Swan River NWR. Contact the Refuge Manager for more information.