Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
- Lewis and Clark Expedition, Other Attractions, Watchable Wildlife, Camping, Scenic Drives, Hiking/Backpacking
- General info
Named after the prized Montana cowboy-artist, this refuge is the third-largest in the United States and the second-largest in the lower 48 states with over one million acres of prairies, badlands, and rolling hills. The refuge surrounds Fort Peck Lake and portions of the Missouri River, making it a paradise for any lover of the great outdoors.
The refuge is remote, rough, and spectacular. The 1,000 feet deep canyons harbor abundant wildlife and make it an ideal spot for wildlife viewing. Here you can see bighorn sheep, antelope, deer, and prairie dog towns. The nation’s largest remaining prairie elk herd makes its home here and can be seen along the river most prominently in September during mating season. Over 230 species of birds have been identified here including the great blue heron, golden eagle, and great horned owl.
Lewis and Clark were the first through here and were soon followed by fur trappers and steamboats. Some of the wild west towns of legend, now gone, were situated on the banks of the river.
The loop Slippery Ann wildlife tour, 6 miles east of U.S. Highway 191 offers excellent wildlife viewing and photo opportunities. Many of the roads into the refuge are gravel and dirt. Access is limited. There are established campgrounds at James Kipp State Park, Fred Robinson Bridge, and at the Crooked Creek Recreation Area.
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