Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and A Drive Through the Salish Mountains

Polson, MT
July 15-16, 2013

This morning, Joe and I went exploring...destination Ninepipe.

 Ninepipe NWR was established in 1921 and is located in the Flathead Indian Reservation. Its about 23 miles south of Polson.

The wetland contains over 800 glacial potholes and a 1,770-acre reservoir.

Ninepipe is a nesting habitat for numerous birds such as Canadian Geese, Great Blue Heron, and several species of ducks. 

There are also nesting platforms for Ospreys at one end of the lake.

nesting platform
The refuge is not permanently staffed and is managed from the headquarters of the National Bison Range.

 The wide valley sits at the base of the Mission Mountains.

Fishing is allowed from the shore...ice fishing is also permitted. The refuge is closed to hunting.

Portions of the refuge are closed in the spring to minimize human disturbance to nesting birds.


Photography and wildlife viewing are encouraged. There are short, accessible trails along the shore.

click on the picture for a better look!
We spotted this pair of trumpeter swans across the lake. A WOW! moment for sure.

 Trumpeter Swans are regarded as the largest of all native North American wildfowl. The babies...called cygnets...are hatched gray. We saw several babies in this little family.

A huge thanks to Judy from Travels with Emma for introducing us to the Wildlife Refuge Areas through her wonderful posts and pictures.

 We rode down Old Crow Lane before heading home...such a pretty countryside.

 Oh no...not another barn! I just cant help myself!
 Beautiful fields of gold hay...probabally alfalfa...

and green fields of sweet potatoes already in bloom.
Yesterday, we took an off-road trail that took us up and into the Salish Mountains on the western side of Flathead Lake.

We headed out Hwy 93 north and made a left turn at Elmo on to west 28 and then a left turn onto the gravel road in the picture. From there, your guess is as good as mine as to where we were.

 We never really felt like we were lost...thank goodness for the compass. Once on the trail, we knew south and east were the directions we needed to go.

 I'm not sure these guys appreciated us disturbing their space...that's some look we got!

Many of the peaks in the Salish Mountains are rounded tree covered summits. The range covers about 4,125 square miles of lush green forests and peaks.

 Occasionally, we found the summits to be open grassy slopes with great views of the surrounding valleys.

The Salish Mountains are named for the Native Americans who called the area home centuries before white men settled here.

We did have to stop to watch a doe and her fawn...

This is my first half decent picture of a fawn. I was way excited...another WOW! for me.

 We are not sure what was going on here...lots of small sleeping tents, a large cooking tent, and several people sitting around.

There were lots of pretty wildflowers, but we didn't make too many stops.

We did find later that there are lots of logging roads all through the range.

 Some of the roads/trails are maintained and others are not. Many trails were established back in the 1920s to maintain fire lookouts.
 We had a great time...I could go on trails like that everyday!

 We finally returned to pasture lands and more grumpy faces...
 We never saw a posted sign to "Keep Out" and the only way out was through this gate...we politely closed it back!

 Hope you are enjoying your week...

Until next time...


  1. Your fawn isn't very old yet. So cute. You definitely have found some gorgeous drives to make.

  2. What a gorgeous place to be. It looks like you have it all -- good weather, great scenery and even lots of wildlife to photograph.

  3. Wonderful day...Jeep trip, amazing scenery, and wildlife!

    That fawn is way cute. Boy, it is covered in spots. Lucky you to get a great shot.

  4. You are more than welcome. I'm just happy that someone thought to visit one of our refuges because of my ramblings. I have not been to either of those two refuges. I hope you've got a NWR Passport book and are getting it stamped. :)

  5. Great pictures, All are beautiful! Those cows are sure mad at your for taking snapshots of them munching.