Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

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Rattlesnake National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Rattlesnake National Recreation Area
Map showing the location of Rattlesnake National Recreation Area
Location Missoula County, Montana, United States
Nearest city Missoula, Montana
Coordinates 47°02′15″N 113°52′41″W / 47.03750°N 113.87806°W / 47.03750; -113.87806Coordinates: 47°02′15″N 113°52′41″W / 47.03750°N 113.87806°W / 47.03750; -113.87806
Area 28,000 acres (113.31 km2)
Established October 19, 1980
Governing body United States Forest Service
Website Rattlesnake National Recreation Area

Rattlesnake National Recreation Area is a United States National Recreation Area located 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) north of Missoula, Montana in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage area. It is administered by the Lolo National Forest and is adjacent to the Rattlesnake Wilderness. Both the recreation area and the wilderness area were established by the U.S. Congress on October 19, 1980.

There are more than 73 miles of hiking trails in the recreation area many of which are also open to horseback riders, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers.

Biology and Ecology[edit]

A Calypso orchid
A white-tailed deer drinks from Rattlesnake Creek


Though host to invasive plant species including leafy spurge,[1] the Rattlesnake contains native plant communities such as Sphagnum riparium at Shoo Fly Meadows, one of the only Sphagnum bogs in the Western United States.[2] Native orchid species may be found in the recreation area, including Calypso bulbosa, Cypripedium montanum, and Corallorhiza striata.[3]


Popular with fishermen, Rattlesnake Creek hosts bull trout, cutthroat trout, and mountain whitefish.[4] Along the trail, green comma and western tiger swallowtail butterflies may be found, amongst others.[5] Mammals which frequent the National Recreation Area include elk, white-tailed deer, mountain goat, and grizzly bear.[6] Birdwatchers visiting the Rattlesnake may find over forty bird species[7] including pileated woodpecker, great grey owl, ruffed grouse,[8] and American dipper.[9] Visitors should exercise caution, for black bear and mountain lion frequent the area.[10]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ United States Forest Service. Summary of Direct and Indirect Weed and Environment Consequences Specific to alternative 2. Lolo National Forest (N.F.), Integrated Weed Management: Environmental Impact Statement, page 61. United States Forest Service, 2007.
  2. ^ United States Forest Service. Rattlesnake Creek. Lolo National Forest (N.F.), Suitability Study and EIS for Eight Rivers on the Lolo National Forest (N.F.) for Inclusion National Wild and Scenic River (NWSR) System, Lewis & Clark County, Missoula County, Powell County, Ravalli County, Sanders County: Environmental Impact Statement, page 3-6. United States Forest Service, 1996.
  3. ^ Edlund, Eric. Rattlesnake Orchids. Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group. https://rattlesnakecreekwatershedgroup.org/category/uncategorized/.
  4. ^ Wilderness Adventures Press, Inc. Montana's Best Fishing Waters: 170 Detailed Maps of 34 of the Best Rivers, Streams, and Lakes, page 115. Wilderness Adventures Press, Inc, Belgrade, Montana. 2006.
  5. ^ Montana Birding Trail. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area & Wilderness. http://www.montanabirdingtrail.org/maps/r1/t1/s10/r1t1s10.php#content, accessed 6 September 2016.
  6. ^ United States Forest Service. Amendment 12: Wild and Scenic Rivers Eligibility Study. Lolo National Forest (N.F.) Plan: Environmental Impact Statement, page 15. United States Forest Service, 1986.
  7. ^ Walker, Carter G. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness. Moon Montana & Wyoming: Including Yellowstone, Grand Teton & Glacier National Parks. Avalon Travel, 2014.
  8. ^ Johnsgard, Paul. Lolo National Forest. Rocky Mountain Birds, page 56. Zea E-Books, Lincoln, Nebraska, 2011.
  9. ^ Robbins, Chuck. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Great Places: Montana: A Recreational Guide to Montana's Public Lands and Historic Places for Birding, Hiking, Photography, Fishing, Hunting, and Camping, page 71. Wilderness Adventures Press, Belgrade, Montana, 2008
  10. ^ Robbins, Chuck. Rattlesnake National Recreation Area. Birding Trails Montana: 240 Birding Locations Across the Big Sky State, page 91. Wilderness Adventures Press (Sandhill Crane Press), Belgrade, Montana, 2014.