The Custer Gallatin National Forest (NF) encompasses portions of two wilderness areas, the Lee Metcalf and the Absaroka-Beartooth. Together these two areas preserve nearly 1.2 million acres of the American west.


The ABSAROKA-BEARTOOTH WILDERNESS is an enormous and rugged expanse of high-elevation country, sprawling across the Custer Gallatin National Forest, as well as portions of the Shoshone National Forest.  Speckled with a myriad of pristine lakes, the delicate tundra of the Beartooth plateau is broken by bold and jagged peaks. Further west, the Absaroka Range is equally wild and rugged, yet with a different nature. Thick forests, high mountain meadows, and streams lie below the open ridges along the backbone of this range.

Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness (wilderness.net)


To the west is the LEE METCALF WILDERNESS, divided into four separate units in the Madison Range. The Custer Gallatin and Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forests, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, share landownership. Wild canyon country along the Madison River, forest and meadow areas filled with wildlife, razor-like ridges leading to glacially carved peaks, and alpine lakes and meadows are all found in these diverse wilderness segments.

Lee Metcalf Wilderness (wilderness.net)


WILDERNESS TRAVELinvolves a bit of risk and challenge.  Good preparation and planning will help make your wilderness adventure successful and rewarding.  If you prefer not to tackle a trip on your own, many commercial outfitters and guides lead trips into the wilderness, under permit by the Forest Service.  Please be aware of the wilderness regulations for hiking and stock before entering the wilderness area.  Permits are not required for backcountry camping on the Custer Gallatin Forest, but Leave No Trace is the Forest Service backcountry mantra.


LEAVE NO TRACE ... in a nutshell

Choose the right path - walk on the main trail.
Tote your trash - pack it in, pack it out ... all of it.
Camp at least 200 feet from water sources and trails.
Find a good campsite rather than making one.
Keep the waters clean - keep out soap, food, toothpaste, etc.
Bury human waste well away from water sources and trails.
Use a campstove for cooking whenever possible.
If a fire is needed, keep it small and use existing fire-rings.
Protect live trees.

AND for your own health, filter or treat all water before drinking.