Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Image

The Red Rock Lakes Wilderness consists of 32,350 acres of high-country wetlands (elevations range from 6600-9000 feet) at the western edge of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The wilderness, designated in 1976, accounts for more than three-fourths of the encompassing 50,000-acre Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

The refuge and later the wilderness were originally set aside to preserve habitat for some of America's last known trumpeter swans, which are recovering nicely. Still, they're harder to see than the wildlife's other resident and migratory species, including white-faced ibis, sandhill cranes, curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, hawks, marsh wrens, mountain bluebirds, tree swallows, western meadowlarks, vesper sparrows and owls.

Badgers, wolverines, bears, pronghorn antelope, moose, wolf, red fox, badger, and coyote are also present, as are native fish including Arctic grayling and westslope cutthroat trout.

Excepting nesting season, the wilderness' 14,000 acres of lake, march and creek are best explored by canoe. Roaming on foot is unrestricted, but there are no trails in the wilderness, and camping isn't allowed (though campsites are available in the Recreation Area acreage and nearby).

Fishing is an option spring through fall, and waterfowl and antelope are fair game in season. Check out the wildflowers in July; be ready for mosquitos all summer. And call ahead for breeding-sensitive seasonal closures.

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