Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, Stevensville

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Wildlife Area · Nature / Park
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Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is a 2,800-acre (1,100 ha) National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) along the Bitterroot River in southwestern Montana, U.S. Established in 1964 as Ravalli NWR, it was renamed in 1978 in honor of the late Senator Lee Metcalf, a native of Montana. The refuge was set aside for the protection of migratory bird species. About 235 species of birds have been documented on the refuge, with over 100 nesting there. Additionally, 37 species of mammals, and 17 species of reptiles and amphibians also have been documented.

The refuge's wildlife viewing area covers 160 acres (65 ha) of wetlands and riparian woodland. It includes two nature trails and a paved, wheelchair-accessible trail from the parking lot to the picnic area. The viewing area is equipped with a viewing and fishing structure, outdoor restroom facilities, benches, and an information kiosk.

One of the nature trails, the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Viewing Trail, was designated as a National Recreation Trail.
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Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
65 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • Went here several times in July 2021 and then again twice in December 2021. Birding in the summer obviously better but there were many nice species in winter visit as well. A very nice loop drive... 
    Went here several times in July 2021 and then again twice in December 2021. Birding in the summer obviously better but there were many nice species in winter visit as well. A very nice loop drive...  more »
  • The river runs through it attracting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Easy access from Stevensville center on a well-marked graded gravel road. 
    The river runs through it attracting a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. Easy access from Stevensville center on a well-marked graded gravel road.  more »
Google
  • Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge has a visitor center, an accessible trail with benches, wildlife viewing trails, and many opportunities for birdwatching and photography in the grasslands, wetlands, and riparian forests of the Bitterroot Valley. Accessibility info and site description: At the visitor center parking lot, there is a large accessible porta-potty and two disabled parking spaces that are not marked for van accessibility. Follow the sidewalk to the left of the visitor center to find a kiosk with brochures, a beautiful view of the Bitterroot Mountains, a covered picnic area off the trail through the grass, and an outdoor amphitheater. To find Kenai Trail, continue on the path and cross the bridge. Kenai Trail is paved, three feet wide, and in mostly good shape. It is an estimated .3 mile loop with five backless benches, and goes through the grasslands. About two miles down the road from the visitor center and Kenai Trail is the Wildlife Viewing Area trails, which go through the riparian forests. Unfortunately there is extensive damage to the pavement at the entrance, which has made the disabled parking unusable and the entrance to the trails no longer wheelchair accessible. The left side of the entrance is passable, but note that it is rocky, uneven, and unstable. Once past this section, there are restrooms, an entrance sign with a map, and a covered viewing area with benches overlooking the creek. A wide paved .5 mile path leads to the Bitterroot River, and there are several trail offshoots from this main path. The Slough Trail is a .4 mile partially paved trail on the left, the Ponderosa trail is a .9 mile looped dirt trail near the entrance sign, and the .4 mile Cottonwood Trail on the right was flooded at the time of my visit. Note: there are no benches along these paths. Other areas of interest at the Refuge include the Grube Barn and the Whaley Homestead. Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge offers stunning, unobstructed views of the Bitterroot Mountains with an added bonus of wildlife viewing. It's usually very quiet and has great opportunities for photography and birdwatching. The best part is that there are trails for all ability levels. I always look forward to my visits here!
  • Beautiful refuge for walking on trails, viewing waterfowl, migrating birds, and a visitor center that has information and gifts. Picnic area and restrooms available.

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