Southwest Montana Bird Watching Tours
MELROSE, MONTANA  • • •  (406.835.2024)
birdwatching tours at Great Waters Inn

Bird Watching Tours

at Great Waters Inn

southwest montana bird watching The bird-watching tours at Great Waters Inn will be either two-day and three-night or three-day and four-night packages. Both packages will consist of a full day float down a section of one of Montana’s finest un-dammed rivers, the Big Hole, as well as a driving tour that will begin and end at the lodge. Our location in the Big Hole Valley is not only a wonderful early spring bird-watching locale, but also has quite a bit of historical value. All days will include a guide experienced in birding and history, lunch, drinks and snacks for the day and all transportation necessary. The difference between the two-day and three-day package will be a trip to the Red Rock Lake National Wildlife Refuge just south of Dillon, home of the largest trumpeter swan nesting ground in the continental U.S., and considered one of the prettiest wildlife refuges in the nation.

When not observing birds, feel free to make yourself at home in the lodge’s main room by the fire, or in the bar. Great Waters Inn is located along the Big Hole River and is a mere stone throw from the water. There are good places to hike right from the lodge or to sit down by the river and read a book. With excellent meals and wine, great company, and comfortable rooms, your stay at Great Waters Inn is sure to be enjoyable.

The best time to observe birds in Southwest Montana will be during the spring into early summer. As mid June winds around, many of the more coveted species have left for different adventures. For this reason we encourage all trips to booked prior to June. The trumpeter swan activity, including mating, trumpeting, and nesting occurs through the spring with cygnets, or young swans, being born during mid to late June. One other benefit of birding at Great Waters Inn is the ability to float down a section of river and view birds from the water. Many times, birds will not be as skittish when approached by a boat because they do not tend to associate it with a predator or danger. This enables viewers to get closer then they may normally be able to on foot.

Historical Driving Tour

Heading North from the lodge on the frontage road provides an opportunity to see a number of different historical sites that offer great birding opportunities as well. The beauty of the Big Hole River is that its habitat changes dramatically as you move up in elevation and closer to the headwaters. Below is a list of Historical Sites and birds that can be seen prior to summer.

Wise River Scenic Byway

This beautiful scenic drive connects 43 and the Small Town of Wise River to highway 278, just 25 miles East of Dillon. Other than the traditional ranch town of Wise River, and the historical markers along the byway, this road has less historical value than other locations on the driving tour. Birds to look for: Western Tannager, Red Crossbil, Ruby Crowned Kinglet, Golden Crowned Kinglet, Clarks Nutcracker, and the Pine Grosbeak

Big Hole National Battlefield

The site of the famous Nez Perce massacre, this location can be found when continuing on 43 to Wisdom through the town of Wise River. A side road can be taken that ends at the parking lot of the North Fork of the Big Hole. Here a trail leads to the Nez Perce Camp. There are additional hikes to the siege area; Howitzers capture site, the monument, Chief Joseph Pass, and Hogan’s Cabin. Birding opportunities are great along all of the hikes as well as the appeal of some Old West History. Birds to Look for: American Crow, Warbling Viero, yellow Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Macgillivary’s Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and the rare but special treat of the Boreal Owl.
birdwatching tours at Great Waters Inn

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