NATIONAL BISON RANGE
By 1890, the American Bison was headed toward extinction. Though bison herds once darkened the American plains, newly constructed railroads blocked their migration routes. They were easy targets for hunters, and the U.S government sponsored an eradication program during the Indian Wars.
Bison survived, in part, due to the President Theodore Roosevelt's creation of the National Bison Range in 1908. Roosevelt's goal was “to provide a representative herd of bison, or buffalo, under reasonably natural conditions [and] to help ensure the preservation of the species for continued public benefit and enjoyment.”
Today the National Bison Range has expanded to include 18,541 acres of habitat, and bison share the range with
populations of pronghorn antelope, whitetailed and mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goat and black bear. Over 200 species of birds also benefit from the range, including eagles, hawks, meadowlarks, bluebirds, ducks, and geese.
RED SHEEP MOUNTAIN DRIVE
The 19 mile Red Sheep Mountain Drive is open from mid-June to mid-October and leads to beautiful views of the Mission Mountains. To see young bison calves, visit the refuge in April and May. The annual bison roundup is held in October.
From Missoula: Go north on US Highway 93, turning on to State Highway 200 by making a left at Ravalli. At the junction of Highways 200 and 212, take a right and go approximately 5 miles to the refuge entrance.
From the west: Take Highways 200 and 212 and turn left. Go approximately 5 miles to the refuge entrance.
Cover image of bison copyright Steven Holt/soaringseal.com.