Looking north over Rattlesnake Wilderness from Mosquito Peak. Photo courtesy of Meg Nemitz, 07/15/2008
The southern boundary of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness (RNRAW) is four miles north of Missoula, Montana. The National Recreation Area (NRA) lies south and adjacent to the wilderness and receives heavy use, particularly in the South Zone, within about three miles of the main trailhead. Far fewer people venture into The Rattlesnake Wilderness which is in the more remote, and northern, portion of the RNRAW.
There is a trail that takes off from the main trailhead into the National Recreation Area along Rattlesnake Creek to within three miles of a scenic cluster of high alpine lakes in the wilderness. The elevation varies from 3600 feet at the NRA entrance to 8620 feet on McLeod Peak.
Accessible restrooms are available at the Rattlesnake main trailhead and horse trailhead. All other trailheads provide parking, but there are no facilities.
Missoula Ranger District, 406-329-3814
Directions: From Interstate 90 in Missoula, take the Van Buren Street exit #105 and head north. Van Buren Street will turn into Rattlesnake Drive. Stay on Rattlesnake Drive for approximately 3 miles until you reach the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area entrance. General Notes: You can purchase a copy of the "Rattlesnake Wilderness and National Recreation Area" in our Maps and Publications section.
There are many alpine lakes located in the Rattlesnake Wilderness. Fishing is regulated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. You will need to obtain a copy of the current regulations and a state license. Fishing in Rattlesnake Creek is only permitted above Beeskove Creek at milepost 6 up the main Rattlesnake corridor. Little, Worden, McKinley, and Carter lakes are popular spots to fish.
westslope cutthroat trout, and westslope cutthroat trout hybrids
Proximity to the city of Missoula offers locals a quick getaway to recreate in the national forest. This is a very popular recreation area with many trails to choose from. Difficulty and duration of your hike will vary based on your choice of trail.
Recreation areas with activity Big Game Hunting:
Hunting is regulated by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Hunters need to obtain a copy of the current regulations and a state license. Rifle hunting is allowed outside of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area South Zone. Bow hunting is permitted within the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area South Zone. Hunting is prohibited within 150 yards of an occupied area or developed recreation site. Discharging a firearm, air rifle or gas gun, including an air or gas-powered paintball gun, is prohibited in the South Zone.
white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk
Recreation areas with activity XC Skiing/Snowshoeing:
Proximity to the city of Missoula offers locals a quick getaway to recreate in the national forest. There are many trails to choose from, and the difficulty and duration of your ski/snowshoe trip will vary based on your choice of trail. Consult the area map for details.