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Rattlesnake Wilderness

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The United States Congress designated the Rattlesnake Wilderness (map) in 1980 and it now has a total of 34,304 acres. All of this wilderness is located in Montana and is managed by the Forest Service.


The Rattlesnake Mountains, located four miles north of Missoula, Montana, form a rugged and scenic vista for the Missoula Valley. The Rattlesnake Wilderness receives its name from Rattlesnake Creek which originates from within the Wilderness and is also part of the City of Missoula's municipal watershed. The rolling hills of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area (NRA) lie to the south and adjacent to the Wilderness. The mountains and ridges along the northern boundary of the Wilderness form the border with the South Fork Jocko Tribal Primitive Area. The Rattlesnake Wilderness is characterized by scenic lakes, forested ridges, open cliff-banded slopes, and mountain peaks. Elevations in the Wilderness range from 4200 feet at the southern boundary to 8,620 feet at McLeod Peak. Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Larch, Fir, and Spruce can be found throughout the Wilderness depending on elevation and slope aspect. The area is also home to Deer, elk, coyotes, wolves, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears, moose, and mountain lions. Approximately 33 miles of trail and 1000's of acres of untrailed terrain allow visitors to explore this area.

Planning to Visit the Rattlesnake 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 Rattlesnake 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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