Camping, Hiking and Traveling in Montana

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Hike Index
H=Hike   C=Camp   V=Visit     S=Ski

Livingston Area
  Elephanthead Mtn. H
 Paradise Valley
  S. Fk. Deep Creek H
  Pine Creek H,C
  George Lake H
  Passage Creek Falls H
  Crow Mountain H

Big Timber Area
  Boulder River H,C,V
  Natural Bridge Falls H,C,V
  Big Timber Creek Falls  H,C,V
  West Boulder Meadows H,C
  Twin Lakes  H,C

Bozeman Area
  Chestnut Mountain H
  Goose Creek H,S
  Mystic Lake H
  Lava Lake H

Central Montana
  Little Belt Mountains H,C,V,S
  Castle Mountains H,C
  Central MT Railroading V
  Cooney Reservoir C,V
  Crystal Lake H,C,V
  Judith Mountains V
  Judith Gap Wind Farm V
  Moccasin Mountains V

Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness
  Anvil Lake H,C

Western Montana
  Painted Rocks Rec Area V,C
  Salmon Lake State Park V,C
  Warm Spring Ponds  V


Warm Springs Ponds Wildlife Management Area


      The Warm Springs Ponds Wildlife Management Area is one of the most unique wildlife viewing places in all of Montana. These are ponds are completely artificial and were not built for their wildlife value. In fact, they were constructed to try and mitigate environmental damage resulting from mining in nearby areas.

     The Warm Springs Ponds are located on the north side of Interstate 90 about 20 miles west of Butte, MT and a few miles north of Anaconda, MT. There is good signage on I 90 and the entrance to the Ponds is right next to the highway. Four creeks come together at Warm Springs Ponds. Silver Bow, Mill, Willow and Warm Springs Creeks merge and just below the Ponds, the Clark Fork River begins.Warm Springs Ponds

     Mining was king in the early days of Montana's development and the entire Butte and Anaconda area was intensively mined. Silver Bow Creek was the recipient of mining, smelting, industrial and municipal wastes for more than a hundred years. (note: Butte is one of the most historic mining towns in the US. If you are interested in the history of MT or of mining you will enjoy this book about The Mining History of Butte, MT).

       Beginning in 1911 the Warm Springs Ponds were constructed to serve as "settling ponds" where the heavy metal pollution carried by Silver Bow Creek would settle out before joining the Clark Fork River. While this was somewhat effective, a lot of pollution still made its way into the Clark Fork River. To address this problem, in the 1990's the filtering capacity of the ponds was improved and today they are quite effective at removing the heavy metals from the water.
Warm Springs Ponds     The diversity of habitat types found at Warms Springs Ponds creates homes for many different creatures, especially birds.  Many types of waterfowl are found in the ponds but a lot of other bird species are also common. Be sure to bring your binoculars to aid in viewing.

       The habitat improvement projects that have been constructed along with the pond improvements have resulted in excellent habitat for many bird species. Many different waterfowl species are abundant but you are also likely to see many other birds. The USGS has produced a bird checklist for Warm Springs Ponds that lists more than 140 different species. Each season brings a different variety of birds so any time is a good time to visit.

       Despite the fact that the primary purpose of the ponds is to purify polluted waters, they offer excellent fishing opportunities. Many anglers know of the large trout that are routinely caught in the ponds and they are a popular destination for fly anglers. The Ponds have been known to produce some true trophy fish so come prepared to fight a big fish!

       There are hiking and biking possibilities at Warm Springs Ponds and they are used a lot by local area runners as they provide a great place to take a run. In the fall, waterfowl hunters can be found at the site and fishermen are encountered year round. As already mentioned, the bird watching is always productive and many birders try to make frequent visits.

Snow Geese
     In late March through mid April is is not unusual to see large flocks of Snow Geese migrating through the area. There were thousands of birds flying overhead this day.
       Warm Springs Ponds are a very unique area. Having originally been created to reduce the toxic mining waste washing downstream, today they effectively purify the water and provide an excellent habitat for wildlife and fish. The fact that the area is right along I 90 and is located right at an exit makes it easy to visit the area quite easily. I often plan a little extra time when I drive through this area to allow for a quick visit and a good dose of the outdoors. Be sure to stop if you are in the area and enjoy this interesting site.



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