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Red Rock Lakes Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
A large basin ringed by low mountains, surrounding a marshy lake dotted with small islands.
Library image #1365: Lower Lake swan habitat


The United States Congress designated the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness (map) in 1976 and it now has a total of 32,350 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Montana and is managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service.


Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge has often been called one of the most beautiful national wildlife refuges in the United States. The rugged Centennial Mountains, rising to more than 9,000 feet, hang above the Centennial Valley wetlands and provide a dramatic backdrop for this remote Refuge. It was here, in the early 1930’s, among the inherent solitude and expansive wetlands that the last remaining trumpeter swans (thought to be extinct) were found nesting. Shortly thereafter, in 1935, the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge was established.

Today, the Refuge contains roughly 50,735 acres with just over 32,000 acres receiving Wilderness designation in 1976. This high mountain Refuge, contains the largest wetland complex within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, as well as a myriad of other habitats. Although many visitors come solely to catch a glimpse of the elegant trumpeter swans or a moose, the Refuge often surprises visitors with its remoteness and fantastic scenic and wildlife viewing opportunities.

The diverse habitats of the Refuge attract a variety of birds, including sandhill cranes,sage grouse, great blue herons, willets, avocets, long-billed curlews, grebes, short-eared horned owls, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, marsh wrens, mountain bluebirds, tree swallows, western meadowlarks, vesper sparrows and 18 species of duck to name a few. Elk, deer and pronghorn return to the valley in the spring, just in time for the wildflower bloom and impressive mosquito hatch. Year-round residents include moose, wolf, red fox, badger, coyote, pika, raven and grizzly bear.

Planning to Visit the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Red Rock Lakes Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

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