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The Lee Metcalf Wilderness—designated in 1983 and named for Montana's Democratic U.S. senator from 1961 until his death in 1978—totals 254,635 acres in four distinct parcels across southwest Montana's Madison Range.
The 6,000-acre Bear Trap Canyon Unit is the first wilderness area managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The other three units—76,000-acre Spanish Peaks, 141,000-acre Taylor Hilgard, and 33,000-acre Monument Mountains—are jointly managed by the Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge national forests. The Gallatin National Forest portion borders Yellowstone National Park, and is part of the 20 million-acre Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Terrain within the wilderness ranges from about 4,500 feet in the canyonlands along the Madison River to 11,000-foot peaks. Mountain goats and sheep, black and grizzly bears, moose, elk, cougar, and wolves roam the wilderness, while plentiful lakes and streams hold cutthroat, rainbow, and brook trout.
The Lee Metcalf Wilderness features some 28 trailheads providing access to approximately 300 miles of trails. Access to the west side of the wilderness is best gained from U.S. Highway 287 between Ennis and West Yellowstone; access the east side from U.S. Highway 191 between Bozeman and West Yellowstone.
© 2015 Missoula News
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