Sun River Canyon
|Description: At Sun River Canyon, the rolling prairies of the Northern Great Plains abruptly meet the rugged peaks of the Rockies, with steep cliffs and dramatic terrain. The area has exceptional wildlife diversity and abundance, with one of the largest herds of bighorn sheep in North America (800 to 1000 animals).|
Wildlife to Watch: Sun River Canyon is also a good area to see elk, deer, and raptors-especially eagles, which migrate in significant numbers along the edge of the mountains. Mountain lions use this area extensively; look for their tracks following a snowfall. In the summer, look for beavers and songbirds along the slough near the river. In the winter and spring, the bighorn sheep are especially visible close to the road, which is well maintained and plowed. Immediately southeast of Sun River Canyon is the State of Montana’s 20,000-acres Sun River Wildlife Management Area (WMA), which winters one of the state’s largest elk populations. The WMA is closed to public access in winter, but elk can be viewed from any of several nearby roads. In summer, drive, hike, or mountain bicycle in the WMA to see Canada geese and great blue herons on numerous small lakes; visitors may also see sharp-tailed grouse, coyotes, grizzly and black bears, bighorn sheep, wolves and long-billed curlews on the grassy uplands.
Special Tips: This area along the Rocky Mountain Front is the heart of the chinook belt, providing some the earliest wildflower displays (April) east of the Rockies.
Other Activities: To view sheep, stop at the bighorn sheep viewing and interpretive area, approximately 2 miles west after crossing the national forest boundary on the Sun Canyon Road.
The WMA is open to fall hunting.
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size: 4000 acres
Closest Town: Augusta
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: