Special Places

Three Forks Flathead Wild and Scenic River

River rafts on the bank along the North Fork of the FlatheadThe Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River includes 219 miles of river segments along the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Forks of the Flathead River, on the Flathead National Forest and Glacier National Park. Click here to explore this amazing river system and learn how you can visit!



Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex

Great Bear Wilderness Sign

Together, the Great Bear Wilderness, the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Scapegoat Wilderness form the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, an area of more than 1.5 million acres. The Flathead National Forest manages the largest portion of this Wilderness Complex. This is the third largest wilderness complex in the lower 48 states. They are managed by four national forests - Flathead, Helena, Lewis and Clark, and Lolo, and five ranger districts - Spotted Bear, Hungry Horse, Lincoln, Rocky Mountain, and Seeley Lake.


Bob Marshall Wilderness

Chinese Wall Bob Marshall Wilderness

The United States Congress designated the Bob Marshall Wilderness in 1964 and it now has a total of 1,009,352 acres. The entire wilderness is in Montana. It is managed by the Spotted Bear and Rocky Mountain Ranger Districts.The Bob Marshall Wilderness was named after early forester, wilderness preservation pioneer, and Wilderness Society cofounder Bob Marshall. This region was set aside as the South Fork, Pentagon, and Sun River Primitive Areas in 1941, and designated as wilderness in 1964. Here is one of the most completely preserved mountain ecosystems in the world, the kind of wilderness most people can only imagine: rugged peaks, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, grassy meadows embellished with shimmering streams, a towering coniferous forest, and big river valleys.


Scapegoat Wilderness

Scapegoat Wilderness

The United States Congress designated the Scapegoat Wilderness in 1972 and it now has a total of 239,936 acres. The entire wilderness is in Montana. It is managed by the Rocky Mountain, Lincoln, and Seeley Lake Ranger Districts. The long northwest border of Scapegoat Wilderness is shared with Bob Marshall Wilderness and the massive limestone cliffs that dominate 9,204-foot Scapegoat Mountain are an extension of the "Bob's" Chinese Wall. Scapegoat's rugged ridge tops slope down onto alpine meadows, heavily forested hillsides, and timbered river bottoms. Fish are plentiful in the 14 lakes and 89 miles of streams. Elevations range from about 5,000 feet on the Blackfoot River to about 9,400 feet on Red Mountain. Wildlife includes wolverines, moose, deer, elk, mountain goats, mountain sheep, mountain lions, black bears, and numerous grizzly bears.


Great Bear Wilderness

Great Northern Mountain

The United States Congress designated the Great Bear Wilderness in 1978 and it now has a total of 286,700 acres. The entire wilderness is in Montana. It is managed by the Spotted Bear and Hungry Horse Ranger Districts. This Wilderness, on the western side of the Continental Divide, shares its southern border with Bob Marshall Wilderness, which in turn shares its southern border with Scapegoat Wilderness. Glacier National Park lies just across U.S. 2 to the north of Great Bear.
Grizzly bear, lynx, wolverine, deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain goat, and mountain sheep roam about these rugged ridge tops, gently sloping alpine meadows, and thickly forested river bottoms.


Mission Mountains Wilderness

 Backpacking in the Mission Mtns Wilderness

High mountain lakes. Impressive mountain views. Wild landscapes. Solitude. These are just some of the words used to describe the Missions Mountain Wilderness. With a trail system to lead you to the more popular lakes, and plenty of countryside to practice your wilderness route finding skills, the Missions has something for every type of recreationalist. Take your kids on an easy hike to Glacier Lake. Or challenge yourself to use wilderness skills traveling to Mollman Lakes. People enjoy the Leave No Trace atmosphere as they walk along litter-free trails, watch wildlife that has not been tamed by food handouts from people, and challenge each other on who can hang a better bear bag. The Mission Mountains Wilderness is bordered by the Salish- Kootenai tribal wilderness; please contact 406-675-2700 for information regarding access and use.


Jewel Basin Hiking Area

Hiking in Jewel Basin

Flathead National Forest's Jewel Basin is a unique 15,000 acre hiking area maintained exclusively for hiking and camping. High Mountain Lake fishing is synonymous with the Jewel Basin Hiking Area. Over 20 lakes provide fishing opportunities to satisfy any type of angler or backpacker. Try “bushwhacking” into some of the more remote lakes or simply take a leisurely hike to Birch Lake. Of course, with every jewel comes the risk of loving it to death. The Jewel Basin receives heavy use due to its close proximity to Kalispell and the valley. The Camp Misery parking lot can be very crowded on blue bird days. So be warned, solitude may be hard to find and expect to share the trail with other users. We encourage you to practice “leave No Trace” principals and be courteous to other Forest users and the resource. Treat this beautiful area special, like wilderness, as it as managed as such.

Highlighted Areas

Summit Nature Center

This education and visitor information center is located at the summit of Big Mountain Whitefish Mountain Resort in the lower level of Summit House. The center can be accessed by purchasing a lift ticket at the resort or by hiking the Danny On Trail. The center has a wide variety of interpretive displays on wildlife, wildflowers, trees, fire ecology, and other topics that relate to the ecosystem of northwest Montana.


The center first opened in 1990 and today over 16,000 annual visitors enjoy center displays and hands-on activities.  During the summer there are daily wildflower, nature walks and families can check out an “Adventure Pack” filled with field guides and materials for fun outdoor exploring.  Kids ages 7-12 can participate in the Junior Forest Ranger program. For summer 2018, the nature center will be open daily, 10am to 5pm, June 17 through Labor Day, September 3.


Group of young students gather on the snow with Forest Service guide to look at trackDuring the winter the center is open over the holidays and weekends January through mid-March from 11:30am to 2:30pm. Jr. Snow Ranger program for kids 10-12.

During the week school groups strap on snowshoes to explore the winter environment.  Younger grades learn how people and animals adapt to winter. Older grades learn how to enjoy the cold and snow and yet stay safe, learning about avalanches and ways to properly gear up for winter adventure.