Things to See and Do
Driving Tours: In addition to the many county roads and two tracks that cross American Prairie Reserve lands, roads 201, 321 and 844 in the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge offer exciting tours. Be sure to take a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle and don’t attempt these roads when they are wet or when rain showers are imminent.
Hitting the Trail: Explore the vastness of the landscape, smell the sage and listen to the birds call. American Prairie Reserve provides great hiking and biking opportunities on its many roads and two-track trails.
Wildlife Watching: Rich wildlife watching opportunities abound. Watch distinctive prairie dog behavior in the many colonies or “towns” throughout the Reserve. Keep an eye out for deer, elk and pronghorn antelope across the landscape and hawks and eagles overhead. More than 150 bird species have been observe on APR – download and print our Bird Checklist before your trip.
Photography: From spectacular sunsets to distinctive wildlife behavior, the prairie offers the amateur or professional photographer a lot to work with. With patience, practice and perhaps a little good luck, you may stumble across a herd of elk, snap a picture of a burrowing owl on a prairie dog burrow or capture the characteristic look of a bellowing bison.
Human History Sites: Places of importance to America’s first peoples, lookouts used by Lewis & Clark as they traveled up the Missouri River and homesteaders’ sites like Prairie Union School all make up the fabric of the area’s human history.
Hunting: Most of American Prairie Reserve’s lands are part of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Block Management program. Please contact the Region 6 field office at 406-228-3700 for maps and more details.
Points of Interest
There are many points of interest on the Reserve in and surrounding Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.
Prairie Union School: A one-room schoolhouse used from 1943-57 and reconstructed to its original appearance with input from area residents.
Prairie Dog Town: Prairie dogs are burrowing, colonial mammals, standing about 12 inches tall and weighing 1 to 3 pounds. Vibrant prairie dog colonies support a diverse array of wildlife including North America’s most endangered mammal, the black-footed ferret. Watch prairie dogs give their characteristic warning and territorial calls. Look out for visitors to the town, like burrowing owls and coyotes.
Indian Rock Cultural Site: One of many glacially-transported and since-carved boulders in the region, these petroglyphs depict hooves, bird tracks and directional indications. Oral history informs us of the important role these rocks played in the lives of Plains Indians as the location of spiritual rituals. As you visit, please keep in mind that this site continues to be a culturally and spiritually important site for Native peoples.
Stream Restoration Site: In 2007, the Box Elder Creek restoration project restored a half-mile segment of the creek, reconnecting the watershed with Telegraph Creek and enabling fish repopulation. Native riparian trees and shrubs were planted as part of efforts to restore ecological processes.
Bison: Tens of millions of bison roamed the continent’s grasslands until the late 1800s. In 2005 American Prairie Reserve, along with our partner World Wildlife Fund (WWF), reintroduced bison to the area. Since then our herd has grown as we bring in more animals from other herds and calves are born each spring. Our bison are currently located on the core reserve area.
Buffalo Jump & Scenic Overlook: Used by North American Indians to kill plains bison by herding them off cliffs like this one, buffalo jumps enabled harvest of animals for food, fur, tools and hides.
Grouse Camp: Used by American Prairie Reserve for development and community education initiatives, Grouse Camp is made up of larger social and kitchen yurts and four small sleeping yurts. Originating in a similar landscape, the steppes of Central Asia, the yurts withstand the prairie’s extreme weather and leave a light environmental footprint as temporary housing on the Reserve. In 2014, the camp was updated with solar power and low-impact tent platforms thanks to generous donations.
Fourchette Bay Scenic Overlook: Stirring views of the Missouri River and the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge await visitors to the Fourchette Overlook, which lies just 4.9 miles south of Yurt Camp. To get to Fourchette Overlook, visitors should follow the signs to Yurt Camp, a small complex of white yurts with an adjacent pond where American Prairie Reserve hosts events like BioBlitz. At Yurt Camp, continue south on Reynolds Hill Road until you reach a hilltop overlooking the Missouri River. While unmarked, the overlook can be reached by continuing down the road and offers unforgettable photo opportunities.