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General Information

Description - The Helena National Forest offers close to one million acres of diverse landscapes and wildland opportunities. The Helena boasts some of the most vivid glimpses into the past of this historically-rich area.

The Forest is sprinkled with history from native American inhabitants to early explorers to the booming days of gold mining. The natural beauty of the Helena National Forest is complemented by outstanding opportunities for fishing the Blackfoot and Missouri Rivers, hiking along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, and viewing magnificent big game in the 129,000-acre Elkhorn Wildlife Management Unit.

The Helena has many grassy parks interspersed amidst lodgepole pine and Douglas-fir forests. Highlighting the Forest, the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness remains as impressive a sight as when Lewis and Clark described them on their journey up the Missouri River. Mountains of the Continental Divide and spectacular alpine scenery characterize the Scapegoat Wilderness and the western portion of the Forest. Wildlife and recreation dominate in the Elkhorn Range, southeast of Helena.

Recreation - The Helena National Forest has a wide range of year round recreation opportunities. Hiking, camping, fishing, snow skiing, and wildlife viewing are just some of the most popular activities.

Climate - Temperatures and precipitation on the Forest vary with elevation. Summers tend to bring moderate to warm temperatures with clear days. Summer highs are normally in the 70's and 80's with relatively cool to cold nights. Winter brings cold temperatures with ample snow for winter recreation activities. Winter temperatures frequently drop well below zero but clear, crisp days are common. Snowpack normally remains in the high elevations well into June or even July making some areas inaccessible until then.

Location - The Helena National Forest is located in west central Montana and surrounds the capital city of Helena. The Forest is divided into three administrative units with Ranger District headquarters in Helena, Lincoln, and Townsend. Interstate 15 runs north-south and US Highway 12 runs east-west through the area.

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More Information

Contact Information:
Helena National Forest, 2880 Skyway Drive , Helena, MT, 59601, Phone: 406-449-5201

Additional Information:
Montana National Forests -

Helena National Forest - Official agency website.


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