Pablo National Wildlife Refuge is in the center of a glacial terminal moraine with a high density of small wetlands and upland grasses. Its own history and management is as complex as the lands that surround it.

Visit Us

Consisting mainly of open water (the reservoir takes up 1,850 acres of the 2,542 acres of the refuge), visitors are restricted to the east and north edges of Pablo National Wildlife Refuge. 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.

Location and Contact Information

      About Us

      Located in the Mission Valley of northwestern Montana, lands within the refuge boundary were first withdrawn in 1910 for an irrigation reservoir as part of the Flathead Irrigation Project.  Executive Order 3503 established the Pablo National Wildlife Refuge on this withdrawal in 1921, subject to reservoir uses. Established among the prairie potholes of the Mission Valley to be “….a refuge and breeding grounds for native birds”, refuge provides excellent breeding and staging habitat for abundant waterfowl and other water birds. 

      What We Do

      Pablo Refuge is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Refuge System is a living heritage, preserving wildlife and habitat for people today and generations to come. The Service works with neighboring land managers, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, to manage this Refuge as part of a larger wetland and upland vegetation community.

      Our Species

      Pablo National Wildlife Refuge continues its mission as a refuge and breeding ground for native birds by being the initial release site for the successful restoration of Trumpeter Swans to the Mission Valley. These large white birds can be seen with some regularity throughout the potholes and waterways of the Valley.

      The trumpeter swan is a majestic bird, with snowy white feathers; jet-black bill, feet, and legs; and 8-foot wingspan. At close range, a thin orange-red line can be seen on the lower part of the bill. The trumpeter is often confused with the smaller, more northerly tundra swan, especially where...

      FWS Focus