If you cannot make the drive into Red Rock Lakes Wildlife Refuge but would like to see some wildlife, try Wade Lake. This turquoise lake is about six miles west of Highway 287 via Forest Service Road 8381 (find this road just north of where Highway 87 joins Highway 287).
Designated as a Montana Wildlife Viewing Site, the lakes are an exceptional area. Some residents include moose, deer, antelope, black bear, otter, beaver, and bobcat. Both the serious and casual birder will be astounded by the quantity and quality of birding opportunities. Bald eagles and osprey nest can be seen around the lake. Watch the branches of old growth firs for great gray owls or look to the skies, shorelines, and lakes to see sandhill cranes, hawks, and trumpeter swans. All seasons are good for viewing, but in winter Wade Lake stays partially ice-free, providing excellent habitat for wildlife and waterfowl.
Cliff and Wade Lakes sit on a geologic fault that formed a chasm that filled with water; cliffs surround much of the lakes' shorelines. Hikers can learn something of the flora, fauna, and geology of the area on a 0.7-mile interpretive trail connecting the Wade Lake and Hilltop campgrounds.
The lakes also can be a great place for cross-country skiing in the winter.
Getting to Wade and Cliff lake can be very difficult coming from West Yellowstone. But it’s not because of the roads; it is because the Madison River runs along the highway because seeing the Madison River can be quite tempting for any fishing maniac.
Both Wade Lake and Cliff Lake settings are spectacular. With aspens, firs and pines trees next to the lakes. In autumn the foliage changes to vivid reds, orange and yellows. Both Wade Lake and Cliff Lake are restricted by "no wake" speed limits.
Trout can be seen cruising in the still water, feasting omn ivorous insects. Fishing the lakes requires nothing special. Typically you'll see fly-fishing, spin casting and trolling. Fishing from boats, canoes, and float tubes are the most successful methods on the lakes. Wade lake has earned a reputation for large Rainbows and German Brown trout. Wade Lake still holds the Montana State record brown trout at 29 pounds. A newly developed spawning channel is an excellent place to view rainbow trout. Hatches: Caddis, Stoneflies, Leadwing Olive, Gray Drake, Brown Drake, Green Drake, Pale Morning Duns, and Chironomid