Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge

Facility Rules and Policies

There are a lot of fun, interesting, and educational things you can do on the refuge. Keep in mind, if an activity is not wildlife related and does not help in the protection or understanding of wildlife or their habitat, there are probably refuge rules governing this activity. Please check with the refuge before participating in an activity that could harm the environment or yourself. There are plenty of activities on Lost Trail National Wildlife Refuge for you to enjoy. Be safe and have fun! 

When in doubt about any regulation or for further information, contact Refuge staff or the Refuge Manager.

Prohibitated Activites

Camping, boating, fishing, and fires are not permitted on the Refuge.

Wildlife Observation, Photography, and Hiking

Visitors are allowed to observe or photograph wildlife, hike, cross-country ski, or snowshoe throughout the Refuge, except in the seasonally Closed Area from September 1 - December 10.

All commercial filming requires a permit. Still photography does not require a permit unless it is commercial and it uses a model, set or prop; or the agency determines a permit is necessary because it takes place in a closed area; or if the agency would incur costs from the activity.

Mechanized Vehicles
  • To limit erosion and to protect plants and wildlife, mechanized vehicles are permitted only on Refuge roads that are designated as open. Be aware of and obey road closures which occur within the seasonal closed (September 1 – December 10) area shown on Refuge maps.
  • Parking is allowed in designated parking areas only, as identified on the map. Blocking roads or gates is prohibited.
  • Operation of mechanized vehicles, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles, off of designated open roads is illegal.
  • Off-road vehicle travel is not permitted for retrieving downed game.
  • OHVs (motorcycles, quadricycles, etc.) must be street legal in order to travel on all open public or Refuge roads. In order to be street legal, an OHV must have a license plate, and the operator must have a state driver’s license (16 year age requirement) with a motorcycle endorsement. In addition, the OHV must be equipped with a headlight with high and low beam, tail light and reflector, brake light, at least one operable brake (hand or foot), horn, rear-view mirror, muffler with no modifications, and spark arrestor. All OHV operators under 18 are required to wear an approved helmet. Non-residents can operate on Montana public roads for 30 days with an out-of-state license plate.
  • Snowmobiles are only allowed to operate on the public or Refuge roads when they are drifted or covered by snow to such an extent that travel is impossible by other motor vehicles.
  • Drivers should be prepared for emergencies and changing conditions. Always carry shovels, tire chains, first aid kits, and emergency food and water.
Bikes and Horses
  • Bicycles and horses may also use both motorized and non-motorized roads shown on Refuge maps.
  • Bicycles and horses may not be used off road on the Refuge. Only noxious weed seed free forage is allowed on the Refuge to prevent the spread of noxious weeds.
  • Hunting on the Refuge is subject to Federal and State regulations. Consult all current Federal and State regulations prior to hunting on the Refuge. A Montana hunting license is required.
  • Hunting on the Refuge is permitted for elk, deer, mountain grouse and turkeys. All other wildlife is protected on the Refuge. Protected wildlife include but are not limited to all waterfowl, moose, wolves, coyotes, mountain lions, badgers and all small mammals including ground squirrels (commonly called gophers) and rabbits.
  • The Refuge proudly supports and participates in the Montana Fish and Wildlife and Parks Road Access for Hunters with Disabilities program. 
  • Please be aware that the first week of both archery and general deer and elk season are open to youth-only (ages 12-15) hunting on Lost Trail NWR. A non-hunting adult at least 18 years of age must accompany the youth hunter in the field. Adults may not cross refuge property for the purpose of hunting non-refuge property during the youth-only hunting season. Also during this season, adults will need to obtain a refuge retrieval permit to retrieve any game that they have shot on non-refuge lands that run onto refuge lands.
  • Hunters need to obtain a Refuge retrieval permit before retrieving game from within the Closed Area.
  • Hunters must use and may only possess steel or other approved non-toxic shot in the field while hunting mountain grouse and turkeys on the Refuge. Only shotguns 10 gauge and smaller may be used.  
  • The use of dogs for hunting is not permitted.
  • The use of artificial lights and/or electronic calls to attract, search for, or spot wildlife is prohibited.
  • Portable or temporary blinds or tree stands are permitted, but must be removed on a daily basis. The use of nails, wire, screws, or bolts to attach a stand to a tree, or hunting from a tree into which a metal object has been driven to support a hunter is prohibited.
  • Guiding or outfitting is prohibited.
  • The unauthorized distribution of bait and the hunting over bait is prohibited on the Refuge.
  • The use or possession of alcoholic beverages while hunting is prohibited.
  • Trapping is not allowed on the Refuge. 

Aircraft of any kind may not land on the Refuge, except in an emergency situation. Refuges are classified under FAA  Aeronautical Charts as Special Conservation Areas with a 2000’ minimum altitude request. The use of aircraft over Refuge lands to disturb, harass, drive, or hunt wildlife, or to locate wounded animals, is strictly prohibited.

Collection of Natural Items and Artifacts

Collecting, injuring, disturbing, destroying, or harming animals, animal parts, plants, natural items, objects of antiquity, public property, and private property is prohibited unless authorized by permit. This includes but not limited to shed antlers, rocks, fossils, firewood, willow cuttings, historical artifacts, semi-precious minerals, etc.

Collection of shed antlers and animal skulls is illegal. These items are an important source of renewable calcium for elk, deer, and other wildlife on the Refuge.

There are many interesting historic buildings on the Refuge. Please enjoy them as they are, and do not remove parts of the buildings or artifacts found within or around them.