South-Central Rockies Forests, Subsection I, Greater Yellowstone, Part B

Along the Island Park Caldera Wall; Petrified Forests; Hot Springs

This part describes the federal parks, forests, reservoirs, and trails in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem. Included are the Grand Tetons, Wyoming, Absaroka, Madison, and Little Belt Mountains.  National wilderness areas, which dominate some of the forests, are described in Part C. Some of the more spectacular units of the National Forest (NF) System are within the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion. Many of the sites are little known and would be well known and  notable in their own right were they not in the shadow of Yellowstone National Park.

Beaverhead NF, Montana, is 2.1 million acres and includes the Tobacco Root Mountains, Snowcrest Range (site 1 on map B; N44˚52’ W112˚6’), Gravelly Mountains, and western Madison Range in the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion. In the Tobacco Root Mountains are Potosi Hot Springs (N45˚35’ W111˚54’) and Potosi Warm Springs south of Pony (site 2).  The Mill Creek valley (N45˚29’ W112˚4’) and Branham Lakes areas are accessed from Sheridan on State Route 287 (site 3). The Gravelly Range Road (Forest Highway 290; site 4) extends from north to south and provides a scenic drive along the mountain crest from Red Rock Lakes to Monument Ridge (N44˚56’ W111˚51’), Clover Meadows (N45˚2’ 111˚50’), and Schultz Cow Camp (N45˚8’ W111˚53’). Portions of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness (Taylor-Hilgard and Spanish Peaks units) are in the forest in the Madison Range.

Beaverhead NF Research Natural Areas (RNAs) are in the Gravelly Range. North of Red Rock Lakes is Cliff Lake RNA (N44˚46’ W111˚34’) on a relatively flat bench overlooking Cliff Lake 500 feet below (site 5). It is about one-half sagebrush and grassland and one-half forested with pine aspen, and Douglas-fir. There are campgrounds and hiking trails in the area. A trail from campgrounds on the Madison River (N44˚53’ W111˚35’) climbs Gold Butte for views of the Madison River valley. Also in the Gravelly Range off Standard Creek Road is Cave Mountain RNA (N44˚55’ W111˚47’), which includes Big Horn Mountain and Cave Mountain, with alpine grasslands, steep escarpments and talus slopes (site 6). There are two vertical caves on Cave Mountain. Cottonwood Creek RNA (N44˚58’ W111˚57’) is off Forest Highway 100 east of the Ruby River in the Gravelly Range. It is a grassland and shrubland on south-facing slopes and is fenced to exclude livestock (site7).

Bridger NF, Wyoming, is 1.7 million acres including the peaks of the Wyoming Range and Salt River Range, which run south from the Grand Canyon of the Snake River for 80 miles. The Greys River Road (Forest Road 138) extends between the two ranges and provides access. In the south part of the forest is Hamms Fork (N42˚15’ W110˚44’), the stage station where the Overland Stage Route joined the Mormon Trail (site 8). Periodic Spring (N42˚45’ W110˚51’) flows for 18 minutes, then stops for 18 minutes. It is located in the scenic Swift Creek canyon east of Afton in the Salt River Range (site 9). Kendall Warm Springs (N43˚3’ W110˚0’) consists of 85˚F thermal seeps on a limestone ridge along the Green River (site 10). A strong odor of sulfur emanates from the springs. During winter, the aquatic vegetation in the stream, consisting of a type of algae called stoneworts, stays green. Stoneworts become calcified, and as they die, their limy residue accumulates to form layers of travertine. The springs are the home of the endangered Kendall Warm Springs dace.  The spring run goes over a waterfall into the Green River (Mohlenbrock 1991).

Commissary Ridge (N42˚27’ W110˚40’ south to N41˚55’ W110˚37’) and adjoining parallel ridges are an IBA for raptor migration (site 11). Lake Alice (N42˚25’ W110˚45’), south of the Tri-Basin Divide, was created when a landslide dammed Poker Creek with a mile-long pile of debris (site 11). Only one species of fish, the cutthroat trout, inhabits the isolated lake, which is accessible by a one-mile hike from Hobble Creek. The Grand Canyon of the Snake River (N43˚12’ W110˚52’) along US 26-89 is the most productive bald eagle nesting area in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (site 12). Big Fall Creek (N42˚23’ W110˚32’) is a scenic waterfall with travertine formations (site13). Wyoming Range NRT traverses the forest for 75 miles, beginning at the Hoback River (N43˚17’ W110˚40’) in Teton NF and ending at Snider Basin (N42˚30’ W110˚32’). Scenic Middle Piney Lake (N42˚36’ W110˚34’) provides an access point along the trail and a waterfall nearby (site 14).

Bridger NF RNAs include Swift Creek RNA (N42˚44’ W110˚49’), near Swift Creek Canyon and Periodic Spring (site 9). It has outstanding examples of coniferous, riparian, and montane forb communities. Also nearby just to the north is Alton Front RNA (N42˚46’ W110˚54’), which includes Anderson and Blaney Canyons and is in the Douglas-fir-shrubland-sagebrush grassland transition (site 9).

Caribou NF, Idaho-Wyoming, is one million acres of public land in both the Great Basin and South-Central Rockies ecoregions. In the South Central Rockies at the south end of the Preuss Range is Montpelier Canyon (N42˚20’ W111˚12’), along US 89, a scenic and hiking area (site 15). The Summit View area in the Aspen Range is another hiking area. The Diamond Creek trailhead (N42˚43’ W111˚10’) provides access to the Webster Range (site 16). Along Stump Creek (N42˚48’ W111˚5’) west of Auburn, Wyoming, the trail follows the original route of the Lander Cutoff, an emigrant trail. An extensive trail system in the Caribou Range is accessed from Pine Bar (N43˚0’ W111˚11’) on Route 34 east of Grays Lake (site 17). Also east of Grays Lake and Caribou Mountain is the ghost town of Caribou City (N43˚6’ W111˚16’), which was the largest mining town in Idaho with 1,500 residents in 1897. The town was a gold mining site. On US Route 89 at the upper end of the Salt River embayment of the Palisades Reservoir in Wyoming is the Alpine Wetlands Viewing Area (N43˚8’ W111˚2’). These constructed ponds provide waterfowl and shorebird habitat and are an IBA (site 18).

Caribou NF RNAs are Meade Peak RNA (N42˚30’ W111˚15’) in the Preuss Range northeast of Georgetown, Idaho (site 19), which is a high elevation parkland of Douglas-fir, limber pine, and Engelmann spruce; and Horse Creek RNA (N42˚48’ W111˚8’), in the Webster Range west of Auburn, Wyoming (site 20), which is a forest of subalpine fir and lodgepole pine with buffalo berry (Shepherdia) shrub layer.

Custer NF, Montana (site 21) is 1.1 million acres and mostly east of the map area. An area of the Absaroka Mountains in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, Stillwater River watershed, including the Lake Plateau (45-17, 110-5) extends west into the map area to the north of Yellowstone NP.

Deerlodge NF, Montana (site 22), is 1.2 million acres and extends mostly to the north of the Greater Yellowstone subsection. In the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion, the northern half of the Tobacco Root Mountains are in this NF (N45˚39’ W112˚4’). This includes the South Boulder River drainage, Beall Creek, and Mill Canyon areas.

Gallatin NF, Montana, is 1.7 million acres, including portions of the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wilderness areas. The Gallatin Range, Madison Range, Absaroka Range. Big Belt Mountains, and Crazy Mountains are within the forest. At Tom Miner Campground, a trail leads four miles toward Ramshorn Peak to the Gallatin petrified forest (site 23; N45˚9’ W111˚6’). Here are hundreds of petrified trees of 100 species. The forest extends southward into the northwestern corner of Yellowstone NP.  Madison River Canyon Earthquake Area (N44˚40’ W111˚26’) on US 287 in the Madison Range is where a landslide filled the canyon up to 400 feet deep in 1959 (site 24). The landslide killed 28 people, dammed the river and created Earthquake Lake. There is a visitor center at the site. A short trail off of State Route 298 leads to Natural Bridge Falls on the Boulder River (site 25; N45˚31’ W110˚12’).  Continuing south by four-wheel drive at road’s end on the Boulder River, 53 miles south of Big Timber, is Independence ghost town (site 26; N45˚13’ W110˚15’). This area was a gold mine from 1860 to 1904.  Mine shafts and buildings are still visible in this town, which had about 500 people. The Boulder Ranger Station (N45˚31’ W110˚13’) is on State Route 298, 28 miles south of Big Timber (site 27). A visitor center and museum interprets the oldest facility in the National Forest system. The Coffin Lake Trail (N44-46 W111-22) heads south from Hebgen Lake west of West Yellowstone for five miles along meadows of Watkins Creek in the Madison Range (site 24). In the Crazy Mountains north of Livingston is the six-mile Trespass Trail to Campfire Lake (N46˚4’ W110˚24’). It is reached from US 89 at Clyde Park and heading 15 miles northeast (site 28). The short Palisades Falls NRT (N45˚28’ W110˚56’) climbs to an 80-foot waterfall off of Hyalite Creek south of Bozeman (site 29). The Bridger Foothills NRT extends 21 miles along the west side of the Bridger Range. To the east in the Crazy Mountains, pristine alpine lakes are under 11,000-foot peaks on a trail west of Half Moon (N46˚2’ W110˚14’) in Big Timber Canyon (site 28).

Gallatin NF RNAs include seven sites, four of which are in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and described under that entry. Palace Butte RNA (N45˚26’ W110˚59’) is located south of Bozeman in the Gallatin Range at the upper end (southern end) of Hyalite Creek (site 29). This contains examples of alpine glaciation, including a matterhorn, cirque, tarn, headwall, and a hanging valley. There are subalpine and timberline areas and four waterfalls. Wheeler Ridge RNA (N45˚28’ W111˚4’) is a ridge between Big Bear Creek and Cottonwood Creek, also south of Bozeman (site 30). Sedge-dominated areas border creeks. There is mature whitebark pine and subalpine fir with limber pine on limestone. Black Butte RNA (N45˚1’ W111˚7’) is bordered by Lee Metcalf Wilderness and Yellowstone NP and overlooks US Route 191 (site 31). It is a dry subalpine forest with parkland openings containing grassland.

Helena NF, Montana, is 970,000 acres and includes the northern end of the Big Belt Mountains with Hanging Valley and Vigilante NRTs. Recreation sites for Smith River State Park float trips are located in the forest.  At Gipsy Lake (N46˚30’ W111˚13’) on Forest Highway 139, trails lead south to rock formations known as the Needles and a number of glacial lakes (site 32). Cabin Gulch RNA (N46˚47’ W111˚45’) is an entire watershed in the Big Belt Mountains north of York off of Lewis and Clark County Road 4 (site 33). Vegetation is Douglas-fir with ponderosa pine and bunchgrass.

Lewis and Clark NF, Montana, is 1.8 million acres covering parts of the Castle, Crazy, and Little Belt Mountains. The Castle Mountains (N46˚33’ W110˚45’) are a hiking area and isolated range (site 34). US 89 (Kings Hill Scenic Byway) provides access to the Little Belt Mountains. Recreation sites for Smith River State Park float trips are located in the forest. The Little Belt Mountains contain Precambrian-age shales which house microfossils approximately 1.4 billion years old. Both cylindrical and spheroidal fossils are present in what was apparently plankton (Horodyski and Bloeser 1978).

Lewis and Clark NF RNAs include three areas in the Greater Yellowstone. Bartleson Peak RNA, (N46˚40’ W110˚9’), is in the Little Belt Mountains and consists of spruce and grassland habitat northwest of Harlowton (site 35). O’Brien Creek RNA (N46˚52’ W110˚44’) is in the Little Belt Mountains west of US Route 89 at Kings Hill Pass on Forest Road 839; it contains riparian communities with springs and seeps vegetated with willow and wet meadows (site 36). Paine Gulch RNA (N47˚4’ W110˚46’) includes an entire watershed and the summit of Servoss Mountain south of Monarch on US Route 89 (site 37).  Forests are of Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine, and limber pine, and a subalpine meadow. An endemic species of Cirsium is found in the watershed.

Shoshone NF, Wyoming, was America’s first national forest, consisting of 2.4 million acres of public land. Small areas to east of Yellowstone NP in the Washakie Wilderness west of Eagle Creek Meadows (site 38; N44˚22’ W110˚1’) and along US 26-287 at Togwotee Pass and Brooks Lake (site 39; N43˚45’ W110˚0’) extend into the map area.

Targhee NF, Idaho-Wyoming, is 1.6 million acres. The Coffee Pot Rapids (N44˚30’ W111˚24’) are on the Henry’s Fork above Island Park Reservoir and are popular for floating and hiking along the river (site 40). Where Henry’s Fork cuts a canyon through Big Bend Ridge (the wall of Island Park Caldera) are Upper and Lower Mesa Falls (N44˚11’ W111˚20’), two waterfalls dropping 114 and 65 feet, respectively (site 41). The Big Falls Interpretive Center is located here. Teton Overlook on the road to Grand Targhee Ski Resort (N43˚45’ W110˚57’) provides a panoramic view of the Tetons from the west (site 42). Teton Canyon (N43˚45’ W110˚55’) is a wildflower viewing area east of Driggs, Idaho (site 42). Off Route 31 in the Snake River Range is a trailhead for 4th of July Peak (site 43; N43˚32’ W111˚11’); off route 33 at Mike Harris Campground (N43˚33’ W111˚4’) southeast of Victor is a trailhead for a trail along the Snake River Range into the Teton NF in Wyoming (site 43). The Kelly Canyon area near Ririe provides access to Table Rock Canyon (N43˚38’ W111˚35’), another hiking area in the Snake River Range (site 44). Big Springs is a National Natural Landmark (see part A). Mesa Marsh (N44˚11’ W111˚18’), located on the opposite side of the road from the Lower Mesa Falls, is on a plateau north of the confluence of the Warm River and Henry’s Fork and east of Mesa Falls, is an IBA for breeding waterfowl (site 45) . The Palisades NRT is also on the forest. The Jedediah Smith and Winegar Hole Wildernesses are in the forest.

Targhee NF RNAs include five sites. Burns Canyon RNA (N43˚38’ W111˚25’) is on a stabilized landslide in the Snake River Range east of Ririe, Idaho (site 44). The landslide was caused by an earthquake. The RNA is noted for its riparian corridor with red osier dogwood and cow parsnip, along with sagebrush, mountain mahogany, maple, and aspen. Willow Creek RNA (N44˚9’ W111˚27’) is north of Ashton ID to the west of US Route 20 (site 46). This is the south slope of the Island Park Caldera and is forested with bigtooth maple, limber pine, Rocky Mountain juniper, Douglas-fir and aspen communities. Thurman Creek RNA (N44˚22’ W111˚29’) contains five springs and wet sedge meadows in the aspen, Douglas-fir and lodgepole pine forests on the edge of Henry’s Fork caldera upstream from Golden Lake in Harriman State Park (site 47). Moose Creek Plateau RNA (N44˚29’ W111˚6’) is located on obsidian sand on the Yellowstone NP boundary southeast of Henrys Lake in an area burned in the Yellowstone fires of 1988 (site 40). It provides a study area for natural succession on droughty soils. The Continental Divide NST crosses the area. Targhee Creek RNA (N44˚44’ W111˚23’) is also on the Continental Divide Trail north of Henrys Lake (site 40). It contains two glaciated basins and a canyon with a limestone wall, six lakes, and small wet meadows.

Tenderfoot Creek Experimental Forest, Lewis and Clark NF, Montana (site 48; N46˚55’ W110˚53’) is a research facility which focuses on the lodgepole pine silvicultural types in the Little Belt Mountains.  This is the only experimental forest that focuses on lodgepole pine landscape-level management.  Research is on fire history, fisheries, vegetation composition, and silviculture.  One recent study investigated thinning of forests to reduce fuel accumulations.  This is a need throughout much of the West.  A nine-year study showed that noxious weeds colonize roads which are made to access timber harvest areas.  However, the weeds did not colonize adjacent silvicultural treatment areas.  This research indicated the importance of carefully managing roads and vehicles for weed control when conducting thinning operations (Birdsall, McCaughey, and Runyon 2012). Within the Experimental Forest is Onion Park RNA, a subalpine mesic meadow that has escaped grazing.  Access is via Forest Highways 119 and 586 from US Route 89 north of White Sulphur Springs.

Teton NF, Wyoming, includes peaks of the Absaroka Range and Gros Ventre Range. East of Jackson is the Gros Ventre slide (N43˚38’ W110˚33’), a mile-wide rockslide that formed a lake in 1925 (site 49).  The scenic Gros Ventre Valley (N43˚33’ W110˚16’), nicknamed Little Serengeti because of its opportunities to view elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, is to the east (site 49). Buffalo Valley (N43˚50’ W110˚22’), off US 26-287 east of Moran Junction, is another scenic valley (site 50). Granite Creek is accessible from US 189-191 on the Hoback River. The valley includes Granite Hot Springs and Granite Falls (site 51; N43˚22’ W110˚20’). The Gros Ventre and Teton wilderness areas (see) are in the forest.  To the west of Jackson is Teton Pass (N43˚29’ W110˚57’), a hiking and mountain biking area (site52).  The Breccia Cliffs (N43˚47’ W110˚5’) are north of Togwotee Pass on the edge of the Teton Wilderness (site 53). Wyoming Range NRT begins in the forest at the Hoback River (N43˚17’ W110˚40’) and ends in the Bridger NF at Snider Basin.

The National Park System in the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion includes Yellowstone NP, previously described in Part A under World Heritage Sites. There are two other units. Grand Teton NP, Wyoming (site 54), in addition to its famous mountain range and valley, includes two NHLs: Jackson Lake Lodge and Murie Ranch Historic District.The park is an IBA for bald eagle, peregrine, and trumpeter swan. There are 17 different activity areas which offer day hikes and backpacking along 200 miles of trails.

  • Colter Bay Visitor Center (site 54; N43˚54’ W110˚39’)—trails to ponds and marsh habitat
  • Cunningham Cabin—this is a trail to a historic homestead off US 26-89-191 (N43˚47’ W110˚34’)
  • Death Canyon (N43˚40’ W110˚50’ )—trails in this area begin at a trailhead east of Phelps Lake
  • Granite Canyon (N43˚37’ W110˚51’)—trails to Marion Lake
  • Jackson Lake Lodge (N43˚52’ W110˚35’)—marsh habitat trails to Christian Pond and Lunch Tree Hill
  • Jenny Lake Visitor Center (N43˚45’ W110˚43’) —trails to Hidden Falls and Cascade Canyon
  • Moose Visitor Center (site 55; N43˚39’ W110˚43’)
  • Laurance S. Rockefeller Preserve (N43˚38’ W110˚47’)—trails to Phelps Lake.
  • Leigh Lake (N43˚49’ W110˚44’)
  • Lupine Meadows (N43˚44’ W110˚44’ )—glacial lakes Amphitheater Lake and Garnet Canyon
  • Menors Ferry (N43˚40’ W110˚43’)—a historic homestead on the Snake River at Moose
  • Signal Mountain Lodge (N43˚51’ W110˚37’)—hike to a mountain east of Jackson Lake
  • String Lake (N43˚47’ W110˚44’)—allows a loop through Cascade and Paintbrush canyons
  • Taggart Lake (N43˚42’ W110˚45’)—hikes to lakes dammed by glacial moraines
  • Teton Village Aerial Tram (N43˚36’ W110˚52’)—from the top of Rendezvous Mountain trails descend into Granite Canyon in the park
  • Two Ocean lake (N43˚55’ W110˚32’)—trails to Two Ocean and Emma Matilda Lakes east of Jackson Lodge
  • University of Wyoming Research Station (N43˚56’ W110˚39’)—on the eastern shore of Jackson Lake north of Leeks Marina, is a biological and ecosystem research station

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Memorial Parkway, Wyoming (site 56), includes the public land between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. The visitor center is at Flagg Ranch (N44˚6’ W110˚40’).  A trail follows the Snake River through Flagg Canyon, providing spectacular Snake River views just south of Yellowstone NP.

Federal and federally licensed recreation lakes in the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion include those of the Bureau of Reclamation and PPL Montana.  Cascade Creek Diversion Dam, Bureau of Reclamation, Wyoming (site 57; N44˚7’ W110˚50’) sends water through a 0.7-mile canal to Grassy Lake. Grassy Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Wyoming (N44˚8’ W110˚49’) was constructed in 1937 to 1939 on the boundary of Yellowstone National Park in the Targhee NF and  stores water for downstream irrigation (site 57).

Hebgen Lake, PPL Montana, Montana (N44˚47’ W111˚14’) is a reservoir just downstream from West Yellowstone (site 24). It harbors the largest known wintering concentrations of waterfowl in the Rocky Mountains, as several areas have open water in winter. It is an IBA for trumpeter swans, which concentrate in the Madison, Grayling, and South Fork arms of the reservoir.

Holter Lake, PPL Montana (N46˚59’ W112˚0’), is a 27-mile-long reservoir on the Missouri River that includes the Gates of the Mountains (N46˚53’ W111˚55’), a narrow gorge that the river has cut through the Rocky Mountains (site 58). There is a boat-in campground at Beartooth Landing. Gates of the Mountains are a site on the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The 1,200-foot cliffs towering above the Missouri River were seen by Lewis and Clark in 1805. A boat tour is offered from the marina at Exit 209 on I-15, 20 miles north of Helena.

Island Park Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho (site 47; N44˚25’ W111˚24’), is part of the Minidoka Project. Irrigation water is stored behind this dam on Henry’s Fork. Recreation sites are administered by the Targhee NF. Geologically, Island Park Reservoir is located in the northwest rim of the Island Park Caldera. The reservoir is an IBA for waterfowl and colonial nesters.

Jackson Lake, Bureau of Reclamation, Wyoming (N43˚51’ W110˚35’) is part of the Minodoka Project; this lake is within Grand Teton NP (site 54). Recreation sites are Colter Bay, Jackson Lake Lodge, and Signal Lake Lodge within the park. A University of Wyoming biological research station is on the lake.

Palisades Reservoir, Bureau of Reclamation, Idaho-Wyoming (site 59), is located on the South Fork of the Snake River. This reservoir stores irrigation water for Minidoka project downstream in Idaho. On US Route 89 at the upper end of the Salt River embayment of the reservoir in Wyoming is the Alpine Wetlands (N43˚8’ W111˚2’). These constructed ponds provide waterfowl and shorebird habitat and are an IBA.

National trail system in the Greater Yellowstone subsection of the South Central  Rockies forests ecoregion includes the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail site at Gates of the Mountains, Holter Lake, described above, and sections of the Continental Divide NST.  Sections of the 3,100-mile trail traverse the Gallatin NF, US Sheep Experiment Station, and Targhee NF in the Greater Yellowstone ecoregion.

Bear Trap National Recreation Trail (NRT), BLM, Montana (site 60), is a nine-mile trail beginning at Madison Power Plant (N45˚29’ W111˚38’) and following the Madison River in Bear Trap Canyon downstream through the Lee Metcalf Wilderness to near Route 84 (N45˚35’ W111˚36’).

Big Sky Snowmobile NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana, extends from Big Sky to Buffalo Horn Creek (N45˚6’ W111˚12’), the Porcupine Divide, Moose Creek (N45˚21’ W111˚18’), and Bear Creek within 16 miles of Bozeman. Another section extends 40 miles from north of West Yellowstone on US 191 (N44˚48’ W111˚6’) to the Tepee Basin (N44˚54’ W111˚11’).

Big Springs Water NRT, Targhee NF, Idaho (N44˚30’ W111˚17’) is a five-mile canoe trail from Big Springs to Macks Inn on US 20 at Henrys Fork of the Snake River (site 40).

Bridger Foothills NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (site 61), is a 21-mile trail beginning on State Route 86 near Bozeman (N45˚43’ W110˚59’) and extending north to Fairy Lake (N45˚54’ W110˚58’), passing Sacagawea Peak, Ross Peak, and Bridger Peak along its ridgetop course.

Deep Creek NRT, Lewis and Clark NF, Montana (site 62) is an 18.5-mile figure 8 loop trail beginning (N47˚2’ W111˚4’) south of Logging Creek Campground on Forest Highway 839 about 50 miles south of Great Falls, passing Blankenbaker Flats and Deep Creek Ridge.

Drinking Horse Mountain NRT, Bozeman Fish Technology Center, Montana (N45˚42’ W110˚58’) is a two-mile, figure eight loop which ascends the mountain in a 700-foot climb (site 63).

Gallatin Riverside NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (N45˚25’ W111˚14’), begins at a trailhead on Forest Road 132 two miles off of US 191 (site 64). This 2.4-mile trail follows the opposite side of the river from US 191, passing rapids and canyon vistas.

Garnett Mountain NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (N45˚26’ W111˚13’), is a 3.4-mile trail which begins at the trailhead on Forest Road 132 two miles off of US 191 and ascends to the top of Garnet Mountain, an old fire lookout (site 64).

Hanging Valley NRT, Helena NF, Montana (N46˚47’ W111˚37’), is a six-mile trail following a steep side canyon to overlook the Trout Creek Canyon (site 33). The trailhead is at Vigilante Campground on County Road 4 northeast of Helena in the Big Belt Mountains.

Lost Cabin Lake NRT, Deerlodge NF, Montana (site 22; N45˚35’ W112˚4’), is a three-mile trail in the Tobacco Root Mountains beginning at the end of Forest Road 107 (South Boulder River Road) about 15 miles south of State Route 359, which goes between Cardwell and Harrison. Mountain goats can be seen on cliffs to the south and east of the lake.

Louise Lake NRT, Deerlodge NF, Montana (N45˚36’ W112˚3’), is a steep four-mile trail which climbs to Louise Lake, surrounded by 10,000-foot peaks in the Tobacco Root Mountains (site 22). It is reached at the end of Forest Road 107 (South Boulder River Road) about 15 miles south of State Route 359, which connects Cardwell and Harrison.

Morning Glory NRT, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming (N44˚28’ W110˚51’), is a 1.5-mile trail to some of the best geysers in Yellowstone (site 65). It leads from Old Faithful north past Castle Geyser, Grotto Geyser, and Riverside Geyser across the Firehole River to Morning Glory Pool.

Natural Bridge NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (N45˚33’ W110˚12’), is a one-mile trail which crosses a natural bridge and passes a waterfall on the Boulder River south of Big Timber (site 25).

Palisades Creek NRT, Targhee NF, Idaho (N43˚26’ W111˚10’), is north of US 26 and south of Irwin (site 59).  The scenic 5.7-mile trail leads to Upper and Lower Palisades Lakes and provides views of cliffs.

Palisade Falls NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (N45˚28’ W110˚56’), is a one-half mile trail which climbs to an 80-foot waterfall off of Hyalite Creek south of Bozeman on Forest Highway 62 (site 29).

Refuge Point Ski Trail NRT, Gallatin NF, Montana (N44˚52’ W111˚21’), begins on US 287 at the upper end of Earthquake Lake (site 24). This is a four-mile trail commemorating the meeting place for earthquake survivors in 1959.

Sheridan NRT, Teton NF, Wyoming (N43˚38’ W110˚7’) is a nine-mile trail accessible from the Yellowjacket Flat along the Gros Ventre River and extending up North Fork Fish Creek, Packsaddle Creek, and Squaw Creek to Sheridan Pass (site 66).

South Rim NRT, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming (N44˚43’ W110˚29’), is a nine-mile trail which follows the South Rim of Yellowstone Canyon near Yellowstone Falls (site 67). It begins at the bridge over the Yellowstone River above the Upper Falls and follows the canyon rim past Upper Falls, Lower Falls, and Artist Point, ending at Point Sublime.

Three Senses NRT, Yellowstone NP, Wyoming (N44˚33’ W110˚48’), is a 0.2-mile trail located eight miles north of Old Faithful on Firehole Lake Drive near Pink Cone Geyser (site 68).

Two Top Snowmobile NRT, Targhee NF, Idaho (N44˚37’ W111˚16’), begins at the airport in Henrys Lake Flat; this 28-mile trail is in the Henrys Fork Mountains on the Idaho-Montana border (site 69).

Wyoming Range NRT, Bridger and Teton NFs, Wyoming, extends from Snider Basin (N42˚30’ W110˚32’) on South Piney Creek west of Big Piney (US 189), and follows the spine of the Wyoming Range for 75 miles north to Camp Davis (N43˚17’ W110˚40’) along the Hoback River on US 189-191 south of Jackson.


Birdsall, Jennifer L., Ward McCaughey, and Justin B. Runyon. 2012. Roads Impact the Distribution of Noxious Weeds More than Restoration Treatments in a Lodgepole Pine Forest in Montana, USA.  Restoration Ecology 20:517-523.

Horodyski, Robert J. and Bonnie Bloeser. 1978. 1400-Million-Year-Old Shale-Facies Microbiota from the Lower Belt Supergroup, Montana. Science 199:682-684.

Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 1991. Kendall Warm Springs, Wyoming. Natural History, June 1991, pp. 69-71.