Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge covers 12,383 acres on the western edge of the Great Plains, near Great Falls, Montana. The lake is actually a 5,000 acre shallow marsh in a closed basin created by the last continental glacier to occupy the area. The gentle rolling refuge uplands are dominated by 6,000 acres of native short grass prairie. Approximately 700 acres of former crop land has been planted to dense nesting cover, a mix of tall growing grasses and legumes. Water for refuge marshes is supplied by natural runoff from the small Lake Creek watershed and by water pumped from Muddy Creek, a stream 15 miles west of the refuge. The refuge lands support a great variety of water birds with both nesting and migration habitat. Up to 100,000 ducks, 40,000 geese, 5,000 tundra swans, bald eagles and peregrines may be observed in migration. Refuge habitat annually produces up to 20,000 ducks, 500 Canada geese, 10,000 Franklin's gulls, white-faced ibis and other species. A 9 mile auto tour route is open to the public for wildlife observation. About 4,000 acres is open to public hunting of game birds.
Stop at information kiosk for leaflets or at refuge office during working hours; Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 4:30pm. The auto tour is open during the winter as weather permits.
Directions: Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located 12 miles north of Great Falls. Drive north on Bootlegger trail 9.25 miles, turn left on the gravel refuge entrance road.
Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge
922 Bootlegger Trail, Great Falls, MT 59404
- Wildlife Viewing
- Bird Watching