- Red Rock Lakes NWR is primarily a high elevation mountain wetland-riparian area. Red Rock Creek flows through the upper end of the Centennial Valley, within which the refuge lies, creating the impressive Upper Red Rock Lake, River Marsh, and Lower Red Rock Lake marshlands.
The rugged Centennial Mountains border the Refuge on the south, catching the snows of winter that replenish the Refuge's Lakes and marshes. Red Rock Creek is near the headwaters of the Missouri River. These wetlands provide secluded habitat for the trumpeter swan, white-faced ibis, and Shiras moose. The refuge includes subirrigated meadows or "fens", grasslands, and forest as well.
This minimally-altered natural diversity provides habitat for other species such as sandhill cranes, curlews, peregrine falcons, eagles, numerous hawks and owls, badgers, wolverines, bears and wolves in the backcountry, native fish such as Arctic grayling, westslope cutthroat trout; moose and pronghorn antelope.
Although much of the refuge lands were originally homesteaded at the turn of the century, refuge management has restored much of the naturalness to the area. This approach gained Red Rock Lakes the distinction of being designated a National Natural Landmark, as well as becoming one of the few marshland Wilderness Areas in the country.
As such, we continue to manage for primitive wilderness values. This maintains a largely natural diversity where humans are a visitor, with minimal permanent impact on the landscape, and wildlife move throughout with minimal human interaction. Commercialism is minimized, creating a rare uncrowded do-it-yourself experience. Formal trails are not maintained or designated. In keeping with the wilderness spirit, visitors are free to explore the country and follow numerous game trails, seeing the country the way wildlife sees it, and follow in the trails and tracks of moose, elk, and deer.
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located near the headwaters of the Missouri River in Montana.