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Mission Mountains Wilderness

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Area Management

The Mission Mountains Wilderness is part of the 109 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude. You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964. Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Mission Mountains Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

General Wilderness Prohibitions

Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited on all federal lands designated as wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters, unless provided for in specific legislation.

In a few areas some exceptions allowing the use of motorized equipment or mechanical transport are described in the special regulations in effect for a specific area. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information.

These general prohibitions have been implemented for all national forest wildernesses in order to implement the provisions of the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Wilderness Act requires management of human-caused impacts and protection of the area's wilderness character to insure that it is "unimpaired for the future use and enjoyment as wilderness." Use of the equipment listed as prohibited in wilderness is inconsistent with the provision in the Wilderness Act which mandates opportunities for solitude or primitive recreation and that wilderness is a place that is in contrast with areas where people and their works are dominant.

Wilderness-Specific Regulations

Wilderness managers often need to take action to limit the impacts caused by visitor activities in order to protect the natural conditions of wilderness as required by the Wilderness Act of 1964. Managers typically implement 'indirect' types of actions such as information and education measures before selecting more restrictive measures. When regulations are necessary, they are implemented with the specific intent of balancing the need to preserve the character of the wilderness while providing for the use and enjoyment of wilderness.

The following wilderness regulations are in effect for this area. Not all regulations are in effect for every wilderness. Contact the Forest Service office or visit the websites listed for more specific information about the regulations listed.


Proper Food Storage is required. The Mission Mountains are grizzly bear country and propose storage of food and bear attractants is required for your personal safety, the safety of others and to protect bears. All human, pet and livestock food (except bailed or cubed hay without additives) and garbage must be stored in a bear-resistant manner or attended. Food and attractants must be stored in approved bear resistant containers or hung at least 10 feet off the ground and four feet out from any upright support (trees, poles, etc.). Please do not leave coolers - even if they are empty, or garbage - outside your vehicle (in a pickup bed for example) at the trailhead. Do not attempt to burn garbage or attractants in a campfire.

Caching of equipment is prohibited. Storing any personal property, camping equipment or supplies is prohibited. Wilderness visitors may set up a base camp and travel from that camp to other spike camps during the course of one visit, but cannot leave any camps or equipment behind when leaving the Wilderness. This includes leaving such equipment as game cameras unattended within the Wilderness.

The use of wagons, wheelbarrows, strollers, bicycles, game carts or other vehicles is prohibited.


Maximum lenght of stay is 14 days. Wilderness visitors may not camp in any one location for more than 14 accumlated days during any 30-day period. Any camp relocations within the 30-day period must be at a distance of at least 5 air miles from the previous campsite. Camping for more than 30 days within the same calendar year is prohibited.

Overnight camping is prohibited at Glacier and Upper and Lower Cold Lakes. Camping is prohibited to protect fragile shorelines and to allow heavily impacted sites to recover. Specifically there is no overnight camping within 1/4 mile of the shores of Upper and Lower Cold Lakes found in Sections 21, 22, 27, and 28 of Township 21 North, Range 18 West, or Glacier Lake found in Sections 30 and 31 of Township 19 North, Range 17 West, and Sections 25 and 36 of Township 19 North, Range 18 West.

Overnight camping is prohibited at all restoration sites. These sites are found at many lakes in the Mission Mountains and are marked with signs that read "Wilderness Restoration Site, No Camping." These sites have been damaged by over use and are closed to restore native ground cover and vegetation. Please find other suitable campsites.


Stock users please take note of the following important regulations. Due to stock impacts to fragile lakeshore sites containment of livestock is prohibited within 200 feet of all lakes in the Mission Mountains Wilderness. Containment is defined as grazing, herding, tying, picketing, tethering, hobbling and hitching animals by any means within 200 feet of all lakes. Campsites in these areas may be used, but please remove stock from the site as soon as they are loaded or unloaded.

Certified weed-free feed is required. All hay, straw or other feed brought onto the National Forest and into the Mission Mountains Wilderness must be certified as noxious weed seed free. This certification must be attached to every bale. Pelletized feed or grain must meet current certification standards in Montana for weed seed free feed.

Learn more about why regulations may be necessary in wilderness.

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