Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Montana
Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge

The Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is 2,800 acres of property dedicated to fish, mammals and migratory birds in Ravalli County, Montana. 238 species of birds have been documented on the property, more than 100 of those species also actively nest here. This property is located along the meandering Bitterroot River in the valley between the Sapphire Range and the Bitterroot Mountains.

13 water control structures and a series of dikes hold and manage the water that feeds 10 deep-water wetlands and 3 other, more shallow wetlands for the migratory waterfowl and other birds that love this place. The NWR is mostly a strip of riparian habitat along the Bitterroot River with a higher bench of upland habitat along the eastern border.

Among the mammals on this property you'll find mink, coyote, skunk, beaver, muskrat, bear, elk and moose. Among the birds you'll find Canada geese, teal, mallard, wood duck, pintail, redhead, widgeon and scaup. There are about 20 active osprey nests, too, high in the branches of dead trees along the river. There are also pheasants, tundra swans and the occasional peregrine falcon.

Lee Metcalf NWR offers 2 nature trails and a 1/2-mile paved, universally accessible trail from the parking lot to the picnic area in the 160-acre wildlife viewing area. At the wildlife viewing area is an overlook/fishing structure, information kiosk, benches and outdoor restrooms. The 2 nature trails wander past ponds and sloughs as they pass through the river bottom woodlands. Access is for day use only, overnight camping and fires are not allowed. Fishing is allowed in the Bitterroot River but not in any of the refuge ponds.

To get here: from Stevensville on US Highway 93 (about 30 miles south of Missoula), go east on CR 269 about 1 mile to CR 203. Turn east and go another 1/4 mile to Wildfowl Lane. Turn north on Wildfowl Lane and go 2 miles to the refuge boundary. The headquarters and visitor center are another 2 miles north of the refuge boundary, right beside Pond 6.

Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge area map
Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge area map logo
Upper photo of Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge courtesy of the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
Map courtesy of National Geographic Topo!
Text Copyright © by All rights reserved.