UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge
|Description: One of the nation’s few prairie wilderness area, this extremely remote refuge features native grasslands that give way to steep breaks overlooking the Missouri River. The area contains one of the highest densities of black-tailed prairie dog populations in the United States.|
About 1.25 miles south of the refuge boundary on Refuge Road 212 is a display that interprets the prairie ecosystem.
Wildlife to Watch: The extensive dog towns attract coyotes, badgers, burrowing owls, golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, and during fall migration, Merlin’s. This is one of the best spots in Montana to see mountain plovers.
It’s the site of a black-footed ferret (often called the nation’s most endangered mammal) reintroduction, and one of the state’s best places to find burrowing owls, as well as prairie rattlesnakes and elk. The Valentine Creek area (along Refuge Road 416) is a good spot to observe mating rituals of sage grouse in the spring. For dependable bighorn sheep viewing, take Refuge Road 418 to its end and hike up either Brandon Butte or Mickey Butte-both are spectacular.
Special Tips: FOUR-WHEEL-DRIVE VEHICLES RECOMMENDED; ROADS IMPASSABLE WHEN WET.
Other Activities: The Hawley Flat area (near Refuge Roads 319 and 219) is an excellent spot for the start of a walking tour.
Mountain bicycling is possible on much of UL Bend, but watch out for prickly pear cacti.
Ownership: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Size: 56,049 acres
Closest Town: Zortman, Malta
Best Seasons for Wildlife Viewing: