Friday, May 27, 2022

Bison Range opens for another busy season

by TRACY SCOTT Valley Press
| May 11, 2022 12:00 AM

Friday, May 6, was the start of another busy season for the National Bison Range in Moise, and also the second season under the jurisdiction of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes.

The Bison Range draws visitors from around the world, with opening weekend seeing tourists from India, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

This year’s visitors will notice a host of improvements, ranging from new interpretive displays, to improved pullouts and roads, and a completely remodeled visitor center with a new gift shop.

The Bison Range was established in 1908 under President Theodore Roosevelt who authorized Congress to appropriate tax dollars to purchase land for wildlife conservation.

The bison we see now are descended from some of the last free ranging herds from the 1880’s when bison were close to extinction. Combined efforts of Native American tribes and funding provided by the American Bison Society helped create the National Bison Range.

Currently, the Bison Range is a fee-use area with day use picnic areas, nature trails and self-guided auto tours with overlooks of the Mission mountains and high-water markers of the historic Lake Missoula.

With patience, and a sharp eye, visitors can see the majestic bull elk, herds of the speedy pronghorn antelope, both whitetail and mule deer, many varieties of songbirds and the always present bison.

Take the 19-mile Red Sleep Mountain Drive, that was named after Louise Red Sleep, a woman of Nez Perce and Kalispell decent. This drive climbs over 2000 feet in elevation and takes you through Big Horn Sheep country.

Bison Range hours vary throughout the season closing currently at 8:00pm. Current hours are posted at the entrance of the Bison Range.


The National Bison Range Visitor Center. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)


Proghorn Antelope at the National Bison Range. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)


Bison calves at the National Bison Range. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)


Roxy Acevedo Avant Rungta from India, and Sam Baralcn from Russia, at the National Bison Range visitor center. (Tracy Scott/Valley Press)

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