Gates of the Mountains, Things to Do at Montana’s Wildlife Sanctuary

Apr 18, 2020 08:05 AM

Flickr - Photo by montanatom1950
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Tripboba.com - Montana will take your breath away with its unspoiled, natural beauty. The state is known for its minerals, preserve parks, body of water, and wildlife. So, if you’re looking for a perfect destination to get you closer to nature, then Montana is where you should go!

Follow in the path of Lewis and Clark to explore the “Gates of the Mountains”, one of the nature preserves in the “Treasure State”, Montana. This historic wildlife sanctuary was named by Captain Lewis. Through his writing, Lewis calls the most remarkable clifts that he has yet seen as “the gates of the rocky mountains”.

So, wait no more and explore Montana’s gems along the Missouri River just what our predecessors did through this guide! Scroll down!

1. Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Flickr - Photo by montanatom1950

Located in the U.S. state of Montana, the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness is managed by Helena National Forest. The site is located halfway between Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, 20 miles north of Helena.

The wilderness is well-known for its boat tour where you can comb along the Missouri River. In compliance with the 1964 Wilderness Act, no motorized or mechanized vehicles (including bicycles) are allowed. But, it’s available for hiking, camping, fishing, and even hunting in season.

The river is surrounded by over 28,000 acres of roadless undeveloped wilderness filled with flora and fauna on which you can feast your eyes on from the tour boats. This attraction allows you to explore what Meriwether Lewis saw over 200 years ago.

2. Gates of the Mountains Weather

Flickr - Photo by John Robinson

Helena, a city in which the Gates of the Mountains is located, receives lesser rains and yet lesser sunny days on average per year compared to the other regions in the US. You’d also expect more snow in the area.

July, August, and June are the most pleasant months in Helena, while December and January are the least comfortable months. You can plan your visit by considering the most pleasant time to maximize your holiday experience. 

But, don’t forget to check on the daily weather forecasts and make sure your schedule sticks to the time recommended based on the reports.

3. Gates of the Mountains Marina

Flickr - Photo by SheltieBoy

The key feature in the Gates of the Mountains is its marina which provides 150 private docks, a public boat ramp, and tour boats that allow around 30,000 visitors a year. The marina is located on the south end of Holter Lake.

The marina consists of 144 private docks ranging in size from 20’ to 30’ and the latter slips have shore power. You don’t need to worry about mooring your boats because all the slips have wings on both sides.

4. Gates of the Mountains Boat Launch

Unsplash - Photo by Nan Ingraham

To occupy or lease a dock in the marina, you have to be a member first. Luckily, there is a public boat launch open from 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM. The ramp cost is USD 8 for boats on trailers and USD 5 for boats without trailers. There is an exit gate which allows you to get off the property after 10 PM.

5. Gates of the Mountains Tour

Flickr - Photo by wplynn

Enjoy the amazing scenery of wooded slopes, rugged rock formations, and the beauty of the Missouri as well as the wildlife inhabiting the Gates of the Mountains through a boat tour. The tour is available from late May to September on all days.

Each tour lasts approximately for 2 hours. The tours have different rates depending on the types and visitors’ ages. The prices start from USD 10 to USD 49 — the Dinner Tour is the most expensive of all. If you bring your 3 years old toddlers, you’ll get a special deal, that is a free charge. You can book a tour reservation online through the official website.

6. Gates of the Mountains Hiking

Flickr - Photo by Pattys-photos

There are no designated trails in the area of Gates of the Mountains, but you can always enjoy the trails nearby. Big Log Gulch Trail offers you spring views with a lot of wildflowers growing in the season. 

The trail heads through unburned areas that parallel the spring-fed creek and through several mountain meadows. The trail tops out at a saddle with great views into Meriwether Canyon.

7. Gates of the Mountains Camping

Flickr - Photo by Wandering Wayfarer

Coulter Campground offers free 7 boat-in campsites on the east side of Upper Holter Lake. The campground is nearby the Gates of the Mountains. 1 mile north is a large day-use area of Meriwether Picnic Site. The campground offers beautiful views of the scenic river canyon.

8. Gates of the Mountains Fishing Report

Unsplash - Photo by John Sekutowski

Experience the best spring fishing in Montana, on the site of the Gates of the Mountains. The Missouri river area is also known as the Land of the Giants because of the enormous Rainbow’s you will catch. There are some boat rentals onsite which provide anglers with some facilities like BBQ shore lunch, drinks, and snacks as well as flies and tackles.

9. Gates of the Mountains Map

Here is the map of the Gates of the Mountains to give you a clearer picture of the site.


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