Established in 1964, the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge was set up to provide a sanctuary for migratory birds. This 2,800-acre refuge is located in the Bitterroot River Valley, about 2 miles north of Stevensville and 25 miles south of Missoula in Ravalli County, Montana. These protected lands and waters are not only a place for visitors to gain exposure to a wide variety of wildlife, they’re also a striking montage of riverfront forest, wet meadows, wetlands, and grasslands.
Among the wildlife attracted to this riparian and wetland habitat, there have been about 250 species of birds, 37 species of mammals, and 17 species of reptiles and amphibians documented. Some of the most common bird groups one may encounter include: waterfowl, hawks, eagles, swallows, warblers, and sparrows and some of the more common mammals and reptiles/amphibians spotted at the refuge are: beavers, marmots, muskrats, porcupines, otters, deer, bullfrogs, and turtles (just to name a few).
In addition to observing and photographing wildlife, wayfarers can also enjoy hiking, hunting, and fishing while visiting the refuge. There are two different walking trails that weave through different sections of the wildlife habitat – each offering their own unique landscapes and views. For those who prefer to travel by car, Wildfowl Lane is the county road that cuts across the refuge, providing a scenic drive-thru of these special surroundings.
Needless to say, the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge is an incredibly popular community and tourist destination. Start planning your trip to the refuge by reading more about its location and offerings on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/lee_metcalf/