Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge
This wetland waterfowl refuge is north of the National Bison Range between highways 93 and 212. The large reservoir and many smaller lakes are rimmed with marshlands, making it difficult to hike from many of the roadside viewing points. The best views are generally from the road that goes along the northern edge of the reservoir off Highway 212. The many pothole lakes around the refuge were dug out as glaciers moved across the land some 12,000 years ago.
Ninepipe is in the path of a major migratory flyway in the Rocky Mountain Trench. Prime bird-watching occurs in September. Canada geese, mergansers, mallards, redheads, great blue herons, grebes, double-crested cormorants, American wigeons, pintails, whistling swans, California gulls, ring-billed gulls, pheasants, bald eagles, and American avocets are some of the birds you might spot here.
Check at the headquarters of the National Bison Range for information on the birds and regulations. A tribal fishing permit is required before throwing a line into the reservoir. No hunting is permitted on the refuge, and it is closed during waterfowl-hunting season (in the fall) and nesting season (March through mid-July).
Pablo National Wildlife Refuge, off Highway 93 about a dozen miles north of the Ninepipe Refuge, is a similar waterfowl sanctuary and is governed by similar regulations.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition