National Bison Range
Just 37 miles north of Missoula, Montana, you’ll find the National Bison Range. The preserve lies on 18,500 acres of rolling foothills at the base of the Mission Mountains.
In 1908, President Theodore Roosevelt signed legislation authorizing funds to purchase suitable land for the conservation of bison. These grasslands are home to bison, elk, deer, and much more.
This is a special place. The wildlife is abundant, the amazing snow-capped Mission Mountains glisten in the sun, and the wide Flathead Valley rolls north toward Flathead Lake and Glacier Park.
Bison are the main event at the Bison Range. The herd numbers range between 250 to 300 animals. Here they roam free, paying little attention to cars and cameras.
Babies are born in the spring. These adorable reddish-orange youngsters graze with their mothers on the hillsides and lowlands of the preserve.
The Bison Range is open year round and bison are seen along the preserve’s roads or aong highway 93 all year.
There is no hunting allowed at the Bison Range. Therefore, elk, whitetail deer, antelope, bears, and bison stroll by the roads, graze near Mission Creek, and bed down on the hillsides in view.
In September, visit the Bison Range and hear elk bugle.
Mid-November is the peak of the whitetail rut. See huge whitetail bucks spar for the right to mate with the range’s does.
Antelope call the preserve home. Several females graze under the watchful eye of a large buck.
If You Go
It’s an easy trip to Moiese, Montana and the Bison Range from the cabins.
From the cabins, head to Missoula. Stay on I-90 and take exit 96 north (route 93) towards the Flathead Valley. In the small town of Ravalli, take a left onto route 200 towards Dixon. Then turn right onto MT 212 N. Then take a right onto Bison Range Road.
There is very spotty cell service at the preserve. Be sure to bring a camera, some water, and a snack as services nearby are limited. In the small town of Charlo to the north, there is a small grocery store that serves awesome ice cream.
If you have more time, visit the nearby Garden of 1000 Buddhas in Arlee.
The Bison Range is oopen daily from dawn to dusk. VIsitors are welcome but must remain in their cars unless hiking on designated hiking trails.
Never approach the wildlife.
Red Sleep Mountain Drive is a one-way drive which takes you to the top of the low mountain at the preserve. Here the views of the Flathead River, the Valley and the towering Missiion Mountains are the main event. Red Sleep Drive is open May through early October.
Roads at lower elevations are open year round.
There is a visitor center at the entrance to the preserve. Stop in for current conditions and to pay a nominal fee in season.
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