The Swan River National Wildlife Refuge is located in northwest Montana, 32 miles southeast of the town of Creston, in the serene and picturesque Swan Valley Mountain Range. The refuge boundary lies within the flood plain of the Swan River above Swan Lake and between the Swan Mountain Range to the east and the Mission Mountain Range to the west. The valley was formed when glacial ice poured down the steep slopes of the Mission Range The valley floor is generally flat, but rises steeply to adjacent forested mountain sides. Most of the refuge lies within this valley floodplain, which is composed mainly of reed canary grass. Deciduous and coniferous forests comprise the rest. Swan River, which once meandered through the floodplain, has been forced to the west side of the refuge by deposits of silt, leaving a series of oxbow sloughs within the refuge floodplain.
Objectives of the refuge are to provide for waterfowl habitat and production and to provide for other migratory bird habitat. The refuge also provides a nesting site for a pair of southern bald eagles and a variety of other avian species. In addition, deer, elk, moose, beaver, bobcat, black bear and grizzly bears are known to inhabit the area. There are no significant developments or facilities on the refuge and present management is directed at maintaining the area in its natural state.
Except for viewing platforms, the refuge is closed from March 1 to July 15 to reduce disturbance to nesting birds.
Directions: Swan River National Wildlife Refuge is 40 miles from Kalispell, Montana. Travel south from Kalispell on Montana Highway 35. At the town of Big Fork, travel south on Montana Highway 83. The Refuge entrance is one mile south of the town of Swan Lake.
Swan River National Wildlife Refuge
6295 Pleasant Valley Road, Marion, MT 59925
- Wildlife Viewing