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Gallatin National Forest

Gallitan River
The Gallatin River as it leaves Yellowstone National Park just south of Big Sky Montana

Founded in 1899, Gallatin National Forest is located in south central Montana, United States. The forest comprises 2.1 million acres and has portions of both the Absaroka-Beartooth and Lee Metcalf Wilderness areas within its boundaries. Gallatin National Forest borders Yellowstone National Park on the north and northwest and is part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, a region which encompasses almost 20 million acres. The forest is named after Albert Gallatin.

There are six separate mountain ranges within the forest including the Gallatin, Madison, Bridger and Beartooth Mountains. The Beartooths are home to Granite Peak, which at 12,799 feet, is the highest point in Montana and also in the forest. Quake Lake on the Madison River is the site of the 1959 earthquake and landslide which formed the lake. A separate section of the forest north of Livingston, Montana is located in the Crazy Mountains which rise over 7,000 feet above the great plains to the east.

Quake Lake
Quake Lake was formed in 1959 when a large earthquake caused a landslide that dammed up the Madison River to for this lake.

While the lower elevations are often covered in grasses and sagebrush, higher altitudes support Douglas fir, with several species of spruce, cottonwood and aspen being the dominant tree species. Of the 4000 miles of streams and rivers there are major tributaries of the Yellowstone River, which bisects the western and eastern sections of the forest running through Paradise Valley. The Gallatin and Madison Rivers, major tributaries of the Missouri River, also are found in the forest. The habitat supports over 300 wildlife species, including the grizzly bear, bald eagle, and peregrine falcon. Many western North American species are represented in this climax ecosystem including elk, mule deer, bison, moose, bighorn sheep, antelope, mountain lion and black bear. Various subspecies of trout are plentiful in the streams and they contribute to the forest being one of the preeminent fly-fishing regions in the United States.

Over 2,290 miles of hiking trails are located in the forest providing access into wilderness areas and interlinking

Wade Lake
Canoeing is a popular activity on the waterways of the Gallatin National Forest

with trails in Yellowstone National Park. There are almost 40 vehicle accessible campgrounds scattered throughout the forest, numerous picnic areas and even cabins that can be rented for a nominal fee through the forest's district offices. West Yellowstone, Montana provides access both into the forest and to Yellowstone National Park and is a popular snowmobile center during the winter. Nighttime temperatures can be below freezing any time of the year and mosquitoes in the late spring and early summer also pose problems. Summertime high temperatures average in the 70's and the wintertime lows can drop below -40 degrees. Most of the precipitation falls in the form of snow with some places averaging over 400 inches annually.

Access the forest off Interstate 90 south on U.S. Highway 89 from Livingston, Montana to Gardiner, Montana or south on U.S. 191 from Bozeman, Montana to West Yellowstone.

Natural Resources

Black Wolf chasing elk
Wolves chasing elk is a daily occurance in Yellowstone Country and if you are lucky enough you might be able to witness it once.

Gallatin National Forest has about 1,300 documented species of plants. Lower elevations often have sagebrush and grass-dominated vegetation types, while various combinations of species dominate forested areas. These include lodgepole pine, which along with Rocky Mountain juniper, douglas fir and quaking aspen are found at elevations up to 9,000 feet (2,700 m). At higher elevation sub-alpine fir, Engelmann spruce, whitebark pine and limber pine, are common, each occurring up to timberline. Along lower elevation riparian corridors, cottonwoods and willows are typically dominant. Numerous plant species are endemic to the region. Among them, the whitlow grass, fremont bladderpod, Gallatina, and the north fork easter daisy provide vivid white and yellow flowers during the spring and summer.

Black Bear
There are plenty of Black Bears in the Gallatin National Forest but since they are hunted they don't make theirselves very available for viewing.

Exotic species are usually introduced accidentally into the forest from vehicles, traveling many miles from their native habitat. In most cases, these exotic plant species are found near roadways and campgrounds. The mountain pine beetle is a naturally occurring insect species that is known to infest forest groves, and is particularly common in areas with numerous lodgepole pines and fir trees. During strong infestations, the beetle can wipe out huge areas of forest, increasing wildfire potential and reducing habitat and the sustainability of the forest. The Forest Service has an invasive species control effort that identifies and attempts to contain the further spread of non-native plants.


Since the migration of the endangered grey wolf into Gallatin National Forest after the successful Wolf Reintroduction Program in the Yellowstone region commenced in the late 1990s, virtually all of the known 50 mammal species that existed prior to white settlement still exist.

Grizzly Bear
Grizzlly Bears have made a great comeback in numbers and have been taken off the endangered species list.

An estimated 125 grizzly bears roam between the forest, Yellowstone National Park and the two other National Forests that border the Gallatin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the lower 48 states list the grizzly as a threatened species, and the forest is one of their last strongholds. For what are considered to be "problem bears", non-lethal traps are set to capture them so that they can be relocated to remote areas, away from civilization. In the case of the grizzly, each captured bear is tranquilized and then ear tagged with an identifying number. Each number is registered, and if the bear continues to return to areas where they pose a risk of imminent threat to human safety, they are exterminated. The grizzly recovery efforts implemented by federal agencies have often been the subject of major disagreements with local landowners and surrounding municipalities. This situation occurs less frequently with the smaller and less aggressive black bear, of which an estimated 500 reside in the forest. An active management program, in conjunction with other National Forests and National Parks within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, works cooperatively to maximize human safety and to ensure habitat protection for both species of endemic bears. Visitors are mandated to store their food in their vehicles or in steel containers found in campgrounds, and bear-proof trash receptacles are located in the front-country zones throughout the forest. In the backcountry, food must be stored some distance from campsites, and other related precautions are enforced to help prevent bad encounters.


Mountain Lion cougar
Mountain Lions inhabit the Gallatin National Forest but they are rearely seen as they are largly nocturnal.

The mountain lion (also known as the puma or cougar) and the gray wolf are the major carnivores that inhabit the forest. The nocturnal mountain lion is rarely seen and their numbers are not known, but evidence such as numerous paw prints suggests they are widespread. The wolf has migrated into the forest from Yellowstone National Park but is less common in the forest. The population of wolves is hoped to increase over time for this endangered species. Other omnivorous mammals in the forest include the wolverine, coyote, bobcat, weasel, marten and ferret. Additionally, the beaver, marmot, pika, raccoon and badger are commonly found throughout the forest.

Native herbivores such as the moose are found in small numbers near waterways, especially at lower elevations. Elk (also known as wapiti), mule deer and pronghorn (also called pronghorn antelope) are some of the most commonly seen mammals and there are some small populations of bison. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats inhabit the rocky terrain and highest elevations.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagles are a common site over the Rivers of the Gallatin National Forest.

An estimated 300 species of birds are found in the forest at least part of the year. Bald and golden eagles are more common now than they have been for decades and tend to inhabit areas near waterways. Peregrine falcon, merlin, hawks and the great horned owl are other birds of prey that have become more widespread. The gregarious black-billed magpie and Clark's nutcracker (in the crow family) frequent areas near campgrounds and lakes. The trumpeter swan is found in very limited numbers, primarily in or near lakes and streams. Other waterfowl such as the great blue heron, white pelican, Canada goose and numerous species of ducks are also seen. pheasant, sage grouse and wild turkey are widely distributed across the open sage lands.

There are eight species and subspecies of trout present in streams in the Forest, with the cutthroat trout being the only species native to Wyoming. The Yellowstone cutthroat trout is found only in the forest and adjacent parks and is one of four subspecies of cutthroat trout in the forest. Additional game fish species include arctic grayling, mountain whitefish and the shovelnose sturgeon.

There are few reptiles in the forest; however, several snake species including the venomous prairie rattlesnake can be found at lower elevations along with other reptiles such as the western painted turtle and the ornate box turtle. Amphibians such as the Columbia spotted frog, tiger salamander and the boreal toad are relatively common. Insects such as mosquitoes and black flies can be pesky in the spring and summer and at the highest altitudes are known to be very bothersome.


Hyalite Reservior, Gallatin National Forest Hyalite Reservior, Gallatin Mountain Range, Bozeman Montana
Gallatin Range Reflections, Hyalite Reservior, Bozeman Montana
Gallatin Range Reflections, Hyalite Reservior, Bozeman Montana
Arch Falls, Hyalite Canyon, Bozeman Montana Silken-skien Falls, hyalite canyon, bozeman montana
Arch Falls, Hyalite Canyon, Bozeman Montana
Silken-Skien Falls, hyalite canyon, Bozeman Montana
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Gallatin National Forest Campgrounds

SITE Fee Site Accessible Facilities Camping Picnicking Water Trash Pickup Firewood Electrical Hookups Stock Facilities Reservable
Aspen Campground
Baker's Hole Campground
Battle Ridge Campground
Battle Ridge Picnic Area
Bear Creek Campground
Beaver Creek Campground
Big Beaver Campground
Big Timber Picnic Area
Blackmore Picnic Area
Cabin Creek Campground
Canyon Campground
Cherry Creek Campground
Chief Joseph Campgro_blank
Chippy Park Campground
Chisholm Campground
Cinnabar Picnic Area
Clarks Fork Picnic Area
Colter Campground
Eagle Creek Campground
East Boulder Campground
Fairy Lake Campground
Falls Creek Campground
Greek Creek Campground
Halfmoon Campground
Halfmoon Picnic Area
Hell's Canyon Campground
Hick's Park Campground
Hood Creek Campground
Hood Creek Group Campground / Picnic Area
La Duke Picnic Area
Langohr Campground
Langohr Group Picnic Area
Lonesomehurst Campground
Moose Creek Flat Campground
Moose Creek Flat Picnic Area
Moose Creek Group Site
Natural Bridge Falls Picnic Area
Palisade Falls Picnic Area
Pine Creek Campground
Pine Creek Group Campground
Pine Creek Picnic Area
Quake Lake Picnic Area
Rainbow Point Campground
Rainbow Point Picnic Area
Red Cliff Campground
Red Cliff Group Campground
Red Cliff Picnic Area
Shields River Dispersed Site
Shipping Corrals Picnic Area
Snowbank Campground
Snowbank Group Campground
Soda Butte Campground
Spanish Creek Picnic Area
Sphinx Creek Picnic Area
Spire Rock Campground
Spire Rock Group Campground
Spring Creek Campground
Suce Creek Picnic Area
Swan Creek Campground
Timber Camp Campground
Tom Miner Campground
West Boulder Campground
Yankee Jim Picnic Area
SITE Fee Site Accessible Facilities Camping Picnicking Water Trash Pickup Firewood Electrical Hookups Stock Facilities Reservable
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Hunting News

Tri-state effort bodes well for wolf delisting

threatening Grizzly Bear
Threatening Grizzly Bear

YELLOWSTONE - News that some Wyoming lawmakers have begun meeting with their colleagues from Montana and Idaho to talk about wolf delisting is an encouraging first step toward resolving the long-running controversy over wolf management in the northern Rockies.
The fact that Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is sounding more and more like Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal on the wolf issue is a less consequential development that shouldn't affect the lawmakers' work. The Star-Tribune first reported last week that some key legislators from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana met recently in Salt Lake City with an objective of getting wolves removed from federal protection and put under state control. The group -- unofficially named the Tri-State Wolf Compact Commission -- is scheduled to meet again today, along with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official. The lawmakers' efforts may be the best hope for crafting a wolf delisting plan that can withstand court challenges.
Meanwhile, Otter announced of article

Hunter kills attacking grizzly

CODY WYOMING - This grizzly bear was photographed near Cub Creek in Yellowstone National Park Oct. 19. There are a record number of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and some are getting into trouble, possibly because the bears are exceeding their carrying capacity in grizzly habitat. Courtesy photo/Neale Blank A deer hunter in the South Fork area killed a grizzly bear sow Oct. 27 when the bear attacked him. The lone hunter was in the Aldrich Creek drainage in the upper South Fork of the Shoshone River when he encountered a 10 to 12-year-old sow, a news release from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department said. The sow had two yearling cubs in tow and thought her offspring were threatened, said Mark Bruscino, Game and Fish bear management program supervisor in Cody. The hunter received at least two serious bites to his thigh in the attack and shot the bear several times, eventually killing it, Bruscino said. of article


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