Cost: No charge, but you must have your own vehicle
There are many opportunities for exploration of the natural environment and public lands in northwest Montana and near FLBS.
Most notable is Glacier National Park, which in addition to being a US National Park is an international peace park with Waterton National Park in Canada, a Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The West Glacier, MT entrance to Glacier National Park is the closest to FLBS (about 1 hour away), and most visitors to Glacier drive the Going-to-the-Sun Road up to Logan Pass.
If you are taking Thursday, September 17th to self-explore Glacier, below are a list of some of the "classic" day hikes that are possible to do and get back to FLBS in time for dinner.
In addition to Glacier National Park, there are many Montana State Parks in the area including 6 units of Flathead Lake State Park.
Surrounding the Flathead Valley are the 2.4 million acres of the Flathead National Forest to explore.
Explore the Jewel Basin Hiking Area: Mt. Aeneas
Cost: $8/person charged to your registration;
Limit: 12 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided
Located on Flathead National Forest land in the Swan Mountains to the northeast of Bigfork, MT, the Jewel Basin Hiking Area is 15,000 acres of stunning mountains, lakes and alpine habitat.
At 7,528 ft, Mt.Aeneas is one of the highest peaks in the Swan Mountain range. From the top, you can see into Jewel Basin, the South Fork Flathead River valley, and Flathead Lake. Mountain goats are regularly seen on the ridge to the top.
The hike from the Camp Misery parking area to Mt. Aeneas and back is roughly 6 miles with an elevation gain of about 1800 ft.
Visit the Longterm Nyack Floodplain Research Site
Cost: $15/person charged to your registration
Limit: 20 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided
Located on the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork Flathead River and adjacent to Glacier National Park, the Nyack Floodplain Research Site is FLBS’s long-term river research site. With ongoing research since the 1980s, the Nyack is one of the most studied temperate floodplains in the world. The Nyack is a scenic and nearly pristine floodplain (roughly 12 km by 4 km) in which ecological function and connectivity remain intact. Extensive FLBS research, especially on surface-groundwater interactions (i.e., the hyporheic zone) via a network of nearly 200 monitoring wells, has resulted in 50+ scientific publications and advanced the concept of how rivers function. In 2011, FLBS installed an NSF FSML funded distributed sensor array, RiverNET, in a variety of locations and water types around the Nyack. Explore and learn about river and floodplain ecology with FLBS researchers.
Easy walking, but on unstable river cobbles.
Drive the National Bison Range
Cost: No charge;
Transportation (car pool) must be provided by OBFS attendees
The National Bison Range in Moiese, MT was established in 1908 by President Teddy Roosevelt in order to maintain a herd of bison (in addition to that in Yellowstone National Park). Today the herd is roughly 200-300 bison, but the diverse habitat also sustains populations of elk, deer, and pronghorn. There is excellent bird and wildlife viewing from the scenic loop road through the Bison Range. Short hikes are also possible.
Art McKee, OBFS legend and regular visitor to the National Bison Range, will lead this driving tour of the National Bison Range and its ecology.
Enjoy a Wild Horse Island Hike and Boat Ride
Cost: $10/person charged to your registration;
Limit: 38 people – 2 groups of 19, staggered temporally; transportation to/from FLBS provided
Wild Horse Island is the largest island in Flathead Lake at 2164 acres, with most of its area protected as a State Park. Historically the Salish and Kootenai tribes used the island to pasture their horses and keep them from being stolen. Today there are still a few wild horses, but the largest population of wildlife is bighorn sheep. The State of Montana uses the protected herd of bighorns as a source population to re-stock other areas of Montana. In 2018, the world record bighorn ram came from Wild Horse Island. In addition to the birding and wildlife viewing opportunities, extremely scenic hiking through open ponderosa pine forest and prairie make this a popular destination.
Accessible only by boat, this excursion includes a 45 minute trip across the lake from FLBS to Wild Horse Island on FLBS’s primary research vessel, the Jessie B. Flathead Lake ecology will be discussed along the way.
Kayak on Flathead Lake
Cost: $60 paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip
Limit: 7 people; transportation to/from FLBS provided)
Take a guided kayak trip on Flathead Lake out of Bigfork, MT. Led by outfitter Base Camp Bigfork, this adventure will explore the northern portion of Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi.
Previous experience kayaking is not required.
Raft the Middle Fork Flathead River
Cost: $67 paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip
Transportation to/from FLBS is not provided.
The Middle Fork Flathead River is the southwestern boundary of Glacier National Park and designated a Wild and Scenic River. This half-day rafting trip guided by Glacier Guides/Montana Raft out of West Glacier, MT takes you through the scenic John F. Stevens Canyon. (more information)
Because water levels are typically low in September, the whitewater will be mild (Class II). But the experience will be fun and memorable.
Charter a Lake Trout Fishing Trip
Cost: $350 for the charter, plus $25 per additional person, up to 5 total people per boat; Paid directly to vendor on the day of the trip;
Transportation to/from FLBS is provided
Flathead Lake has world-renowned water quality, but its fish community is currently dominated by non-native species. The top predator is lake trout (aka mackinaw) from the Great Lakes, and by last count there are roughly 1 million of them in the lake. Subsequently, the primary sport fishery on Flathead Lake is for lake trout, and the Montana state record lake trout (42+ lbs) came from Flathead Lake. Over the past decade, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who manage the south half of Flathead Lake, have embarked upon extensive lake trout removal efforts including fishing derbies and gill netting, in order to help bring back the native top predator, bull trout.
Come enjoy a guided day of fishing on Flathead Lake (5 hrs) while helping our native bull trout and be part of the solution, by hooking as many lakers as you can.
This trip will start and end from the Bio Station.