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Red Rock Lakes
National Wildlife Refuge

Two trumpeter swans face one another as they float in a wetland, their long graceful necks forming a natural heart shape.
27650B South Valley Road
Lima, MT   59739
E-mail: Redrocks@fws.gov
Phone Number: 406-276-3536
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Wetlands at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge provide secluded habitat for trumpeter swans, white-faced ibis, moose, and other wildlife species.
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Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) lies in the high-elevation Centennial Valley and contains primarily wetland and riparian habitats. Red Rock Creek flows through the upper end of the valley, creating the impressive Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake marshlands. The rugged Centennial Mountains border the Refuge to the south; they catch the winter snows that replenish the Refuge's lakes and marshes.

This minimally-altered natural and diverse habitat provides for species such as trumpeter swans, moose, sandhill cranes, curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, numerous hawks and owls, badgers, wolverines, bears, pronghorn, and wolves (in the backcountry). Native fish such as Arctic grayling thrive in this environment.

Red Rock Lakes NWR is designated a National Natural Landmark, as well as one of the few marshland Wilderness Areas in the country. As such, the Refuge staff manages the land for its wilderness value, where humans are visitors with minimal permanent impact on the landscape, and the wildlife lives with minimal human interaction. Formal trails are not designated or maintained. In keeping with the wilderness spirit, visitors can see the country the way wildlife sees it and follow the numerous trails and tracks made by moose, elk, and deer.

Getting There . . .
Fill your tank for the 100-mile round trip to the Refuge. South Valley Road from Interstate Highway 15 to Refuge headquarters (Lakeview, MT) is periodically closed throughout the winter and is closed throughout the winter to the east of the headquarters. North Valley and Elk Lake Roads are not plowed during the winter and are closed until about late-April. These roads can still be hazardous and may be impassable for passenger cars until mid-May or later. Please call the Refuge staff to inquire about road conditions before proceeding on to the Refuge.

If travelling on Interstate Highway 15, the Refuge headquarters and visitor contact station can be reached by turning off Interstate Highway 15 at Monida (Exit 0), Montana, and driving 28 miles east on an improved dirt road.

If travelling from West Yellowstone,Montana follow U.S. 20 southwest for about 17 miles to Red Rock Pass Road, just south of Henry's Lake River. Turn west onto Red Rock Pass Road. Follow this road for 30 miles (22 miles of dirt road) to reach the Refuge visitor contact station and headquarters.

If travelling from Ennis, Montana follow Montana Highway 287 south for approximately 40 miles. Turn right onto MT/ID Highway 87. Travel 13 miles to Henry's Lake Drive, turn right. Follow the paved road around the west shore of Henry's Lake for approximately 5 miles onto Red Rock Pass Road (improved dirt road), continue following it west for about 25 miles to the Refuge visitor contact station and headquarters.

Get Google map and directions to this refuge/WMD from a specified address:

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Refuge has a vast array of habitats, ranging from high elevation prairie (6,600 feet) to the harsh alpine habitat of the Centennial Mountains (10,000 feet).

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The Centennial Valley was well known to the Shoshone-Bannock, the Nez Perce, and other nomadic tribes as a favored travel route between the headwaters of Big Hole River and Yellowstone country.

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Management Activities
Refuge management seeks to enhance the natural area and wilderness values where appropriate, and maintain them where natural processes are functioning well. In this context, management first provides habitat for trumpeter swans and endangered species followed closely by an emphasis on moose, raptors, and several sensitive species. Water is managed to provide nesting habitat for swans and other waterfowl, with a secondary benefit for fisheries.

Historically grazed by bison, present grazing and prescribed burning programs help maintain quality food supplies for big game as well as a mix of shrubs and grasses for nesting birds. In recognition of the lushly vegetated mountain meadows, Refuge staff maintains dense vegetation that supports a naturally balanced predator/prey coexistence and removes the need for a predator control program. This results in viewing opportunities for fox, coyotes, badgers, and other predators, as well as prey species. The dense cover also maintains populations of rodents that provide prey for numerous hawks and owls. The riparian and riverine habitats on the Refuge are some of the most vegetated and diverse in the western United States.