USFWS Mountain Prairie > Collections

Extending 125 miles up the Missouri River from the Fort Peck Dam in north-central Montana, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is approximately 1,100,000 acres in size and includes the 245,000-acre Fort Peck Reservoir.

Given the size and remoteness of the Refuge, the area has changed very little from the historic voyage of the Lewis and Clark expedition, through the era of outlaws and homesteaders, to the present time.

Visitors will find spectacular examples of native prairie, forested coulees, river bottoms, and "breaks" badlands. Elk, mule deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, sage and sharp-tailed grouse, and bald eagles make the Refuge home.

The Refuge's namesake famously portrayed the rich diversity of native wildlife and habitats of the area in many of his paintings.

UL Bend NWR, a "refuge-within-a-refuge," lies within Charles M. Russell NWR and contains 20,000 acres of designated wilderness. The Refuge complex also contains Hailstone, Halfbreed, Lake Mason, and War Horse NWRs.

These small satellite refuges are scattered throughout central Montana and were established primarily to protect wetlands for migratory birds and waterfowl. Several waterfowl production areas are also managed as part of the Refuge complex.

Hunting and fishing opportunities abound on Charles M. Russell NWR, its satellite refuges, and the waterfowl production areas. Boating is popular on the Missouri River and Fort Peck Reservoir. Several state parks and recreational areas have been developed within the Refuge.

Each fall, hundreds of elk congregate in the Slippery Ann Wildlife Viewing Area, creating a spectacle not to be missed. Camping is permitted anywhere on the Refuge. The entire Refuge is open to hiking and horseback riding although no formal trails exist. Excellent wildlife viewing and photography opportunities are found throughout the Refuge.

For more information visit: www.fws.gov/cmr/

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