Encompassing approximately 1.1 million acres, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is the second largest national wildlife refuge in the lower 48 states. Given the size and remoteness of Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, the area has changed very little from the historic voyage of the Lewis and Clark expedition, through the era of outlaws and homesteaders, to the present time. Visitors will find spectacular examples of native prairie, forested coulees, river bottoms, and "breaks" badlands so often portrayed in the paintings of the colorful artist for whom this refuge is named.

Visit Us

Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge provides a rare opportunity to experience wild lands and wildlife in a natural setting and in nearly the same surroundings as encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805. Many wildlife-oriented recreational opportunities are offered at Charles M. Russell Refuge, including hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking.

At the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visitors can explore the wildlife of the Refuge as well as the rich history of the area, from dinosaurs to the building of the Fort Peck Dam. 

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge is one of over 560 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System - a system of lands set aside to conserve wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come. It is the second largest national wildlife refuge national wildlife refuge
      A national wildlife refuge is typically a contiguous area of land and water managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service  for the conservation and, where appropriate, restoration of fish, wildlife and plant resources and their habitats for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

      Learn more about national wildlife refuge
      in the lower 48 states.

      What We Do

      The overall management goal at Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge is to promote biological diversity and maintain the natural abundance of native plants and wildlife. Science is the foundation upon which conservation decisions are made. Charles M. Russell Refuge uses research, monitoring and the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat.

      Our Organization

      Wilderness areas are wild, undeveloped, federally protected areas where you can see wildlife in its natural habitat, enjoy adventure and unmechanized recreation, or just relish solitude. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages more than 20 million acres of Congressionally designated wilderness...
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages fire safely and cost-effectively to improve the condition of lands while reducing the risk of damaging wildfires to surrounding communities. This balanced approach to fire management benefits people and wildlife.
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service conserves more than just flora and fauna at America’s national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries. As mandated under the National Historic Preservation Act, the Fish and Wildlife Service also conserves tens of thousands of archaeological and historic...
      Invasive species are non-native plants, animals and other living organisms that thrive in areas where they don’t naturally live and cause (or are likely to cause) economic or environmental harm, or harm to human, animal or plant health. Invasive species degrade, change or displace native habitats,...
      The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service manages an unparalleled network of public lands and waters called the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more than 560 refuges spanning the country, this system protects iconic species and provides some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities on Earth.
      Guided by the founding principles of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, federal wildlife officers protect wildlife and habitat and make refuges safe places for staff and visitors; conserve America’s natural resources; and seek to exemplify...

      Our Species

      Explore the wildlife of Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, from massive elk to tiny dragonflies and everything in between.

      bighorn sheep
      FWS Focus
      American Badger
      FWS Focus
      FWS Focus
      Long-billed Curlew
      The Long-billed curlew is a large, long-legged shorebird with a very long, decurved bill. Body plumage is rich buff throughout tinged with cinnamon or pink, and with upperparts streaked and barred with dark brown; underwing-lining contrasting cinnamon, and upper surface of remiges contrasting...
      FWS Focus
      Golden Eagle
      FWS Focus
      Greater Sage Grouse
      Sage Grouse
      Greater Sage-Grouse
      The Greater Sage-Grouse is a large grouse with a chunky, round body, small head, and long tail. Males change shape dramatically when they display, becoming almost spherical as they puff up their chest, droop their wings, and fan their tail into a starburst. Sage-Grouse are mottled gray-brown with a...
      FWS Focus
      Burrowing Owl
      In general, Burrowing Owls have a distinct oval facial ruff, framed by a broad, buffy-white eyebrow-to-malar stripe on the interior part. The Iris is usually bright, lemon yellow. Wings are relatively long and rounded, with 10 brown and buffy-white barred primaries, and tails are short with 12...
      FWS Focus
      Western Meadowlark
      FWS Focus

      Our Library

      Visit our digital library to find refuge brochures and other documents.