Nestled between the Swan Mountains to the east and the Mission Mountains to the west, the Refuge lies south of Swan Lake, within the Swan River flood plain. The Swan River valley was formed when glacial ice poured down the steep slopes of the Mission Range into Swan Lake. The valley floor is generally flat but rises steeply to adjacent forested mountain sides. Swan River once meandered widely through the floodplain, but silt deposits gradually forced the river to flow along the west side of the valley, leaving a series of oxbow sloughs within the Refuge floodplain.
Location and Contact Information
Swan River National Wildlife Refuge was acquired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1973 to be managed for the benefit of migratory birds. This 1,568-acre Refuge is part of the Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge Complex and is administered by the Refuge staff at Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, located just north of Great Falls, Montana.
What We Do
The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge's objectives include providing for waterfowl habitat and production and to provide habitat for other migratory birds. It also provides nesting for bald eagles and a variety of other avian species. In addition, deer, elk, moose, beaver, otter, bobcat, black bear, and threatened species including grizzly bears, bull trout, and water howellia are known to inhabit the area.
The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge is home to many species of wildlife and provides important habitat for year-round and migratory species. The Refuge provides habitat for over 200 species of birds, including 23 species of waterfowl. You may see mallard, cinnamon teal, blue-winged teal, common goldeneye, and trumpeter swans. In addition, you may observe grizzly or black bear, deer, elk, and moose. The Swan and Mission Mountain Ranges provide important habitat for grizzly bears. The Refuge is an important corridor between these two ecosystems and bears are regularly observed on the Refuge.