Essential Information

Please see the links below for critical information about visiting American Prairie Reserve.  As you plan your trip, also be sure to visit our In the Area page to learn about other local attractions. We highly encourage traveling on the Reserve with our free visitor map.

The Reserve is a remote nature area filled with wonders that are also potential hazards. There is no guarantee of your safety and you are welcome to access APR lands at your own risk. The closest medical facilities or emergency responders may be well over an hour away from your location. 



 

Planes, trains and automobiles can all get you to and around Montana, but you’ll need a personal vehicle to traverse the Reserve itself. There is commercial air travel into Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls and Lewistown. Amtrak stops are located in Malta and Glasgow, but vehicle rental services are limited to Glasgow. Neither stop has ticketing services so arrange for travel in advance.
Billings (BIL) – 4-hour drive to Reserve
Great Falls (GTF) – 4-hour drive to Reserve
Bozeman (BZN) – 5.5-hour drive to Reserve
*Lewistown (LWT) – 2-hour drive to Reserve
*Limited flights, often through Billings.
You’ll need comfortable, casual clothes that layer easily, as weather is often unpredictable in Montana. It seems snow is possible any day of the year! The list below is just a guideline, so don’t forget to check the weather before your trip.
• Warm jacket
• Raincoat or waterproof windbreaker
• Warm sweater or fleece
• Long underwear top and bottom
• Long pants
• Shirts
• Hiking boots
• Socks, one pair wool
• Sun hat or baseball cap
• Warm hat
• Gloves
• Binoculars
• Camera
• Sunscreen
• Sunglasses
• Chapstick
• CompassIt’s a good idea to bring some emergency equipment any season of the year if you’re planning on driving around the prairie. While we hope you won’t need it, the following equipment would be a smart safety precaution:
• Sleeping bag
• Stove and pot (to heat water or melt snow)
• Water
• Food
• First Aid Kit
Weather in northeastern Montana can fluctuate dramatically from year to year and even from day to day. While the average temperature in Malta for July is 71°F, it can often be over 100°F in the summer. We encourage you to check weather reports (try multiple towns such as Malta, Lewistown and Glasgow if you’re heading to the open prairie, since no one weather station specifically covers our area), and we suggest that you be prepared for a variety of conditions.Average temperature for Malta:
• Jan 11°F
• Feb 14°F
• Mar 27°F
• Apr 44°F
• May 55°F
• Jun 63°F
• Jul 71°F
• Aug 68°F
• Sep 57°F
• Oct 46°F
• Nov 30°F
• Dec 17°F
Many roads are unmarked, so use an odometer to track mileage. There is no cell phone coverage in this area. Four-wheel drive, high clearance vehicles are strongly recommended, and plan to arrive with a full tank of fuel and enough potable water for your stay. The Reserve does not have fuel or grocery facilities, emergency care services, or “ranger” type employees. Please communicate your travel itinerary to friends and family prior to your departure and consider the weather forecast in your plans.

Wet, unpaved roads in Phillips and Valley Counties can become impassable. The region is famous for its “gumbo.””‘What is ‘gumbo’? …The sediments of this [area] have a great deal of expandable clay in them, especially the shale – this particular type is called Bearpaw shale. All shales hold water and get very sticky and greasy when wet. It doesn’t take much precipitation to create literally impassable situations on roads not covered with pavement, a heavy dose of gravel, or clinker.”Traction is impossible as vehicles slide in whatever direction the wet mess decides to take them, get bogged down in ever-deepening ruts, or the gumbo buildup on the tires halts all motion. Walking isn’t any easier. If you are wearing boots with lug soles, you will gain height rapidly, all the while slipping and sliding.”The cure for a bad case of gumbo is good old sunshine and a dry wind. Just make certain you have a good book, food and water to keep you company if you get caught out in ‘gumbo topography’ when it begins to rain.”– Rick and Susie Graetz

 

American Prairie Reserve strives contribute to the vitality and diversity of the region’s economy. We encourage you to visit these gateway communities for the goods and services you need for a comfortable, educational and enjoyable adventure. Additional travel resources for the area are available on our website and missouririver.visitmt.com.Lewistown: Located in the geographic center of the state, Lewistown is a regional hub of 6,000 residents and is surrounded by mountains and plains. In addition to a traditional western feel, you will find a vibrant town with grocery stores, gas, restaurants, lodging, campgrounds and a variety of retailers and outfitters. Stretch your legs on the local trail system and stop in at the C. M. Russell Wildlife Refuge Headquarters for visitor information. Learn more: www.enjoylewistown.com.Malta: North of the Reserve and along the Milk River, Malta is home to attractions like the Great Plains Dinosaur and Phillips Country Museums and nearby Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge. With lodging, restaurants, shops, groceries and gas, Malta offers visitors a chance to stock up on supplies and enjoy small town Montana hospitality. Malta is a perfect stop for travelers continuing on to Yellowstone or Glacier National Parks due to its location at the intersection of Highways 2 and 191. Learn more: www.maltachamber.com.Zortman: With a population of less than 100, enjoy this quiet, shaded retreat at the base of the Little Rockies. A variety of outdoor pursuits await you, from fishing and hiking to panning for gold! Zortman offers camping, lodging, a restaurant, gas and sundries. Don’t forget your camera – dramatic topography and historic structures are interesting photo opportunities. Learn more: visitmt.com.