Northern Region Viewing Area
View of Black butte from the Ruby Creek overlook. Photo by Kevin Suzuki.
Elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica). Photo by Kevin Suzuki.
Old Man of the Mountain (Hymenoxys grandiflora). Photo by Kevin Suzuki.
View of Sheep Mountain in the Greenhorn Range, low larkspur (Delphinium bicolor) foreground. Photo by Kevin Suzuki.
Forest: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
District: Madison Ranger District
Description: The Gravelly Range provides a unique high elevation drive along the crest of a southwest Montana mountain range. Open rolling subalpine grasslands and mixed conifer forests display a wide array of wildflowers for viewing. Each mile gives a new show of color. Large displays of Old Man of the Mountain (Hymenoxys grandiflora), sky pilot (Polemonium viscosum), low larkspur (Delphinium bicolor), and shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum), are common. Well over two hundred and fifty species of wildflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees occur along the route. Unique species such as elephant’s head (Pedicularis groenlandica), pygmy bitterroot (Lewisia pygmaea), and steers head (Dicentra uniflora) can be found with a bit of investigation away from the vehicle. Elevations range from 7,400 to 9,500 feet in elevation. Blooming starts in late June and runs through July. A plant list and map may be obtained at the office in Ennis, Montana.
Safety First: The area is accessible by gravel road. Plan ahead this trip can last as long as a few hours to all day. There are multiple road options to end the tour. There are no services once you leave the highway. Always start with a full tank of gas. Drive slowly and cautiously. Bring sturdy hiking boots, plenty of water, sunglasses and wear sunscreen at this high elevation.
Directions: From Ennis, Montana go south on Montana Highway 287 approximately two miles to intersection with Varney road. Continue south on the Varney road 9.5 miles to the junction of the Call road. Turn west and follow the Call road to the National Forest boundary (6.5 miles). From the National Forest boundary, wildflower viewing continues for over forty miles. Just over five miles from the boundary, you will reach the junction of the Gravelly Range Road. Turn left and continue south.
As you travel south on the Gravelly Range Road you have various route options to exit the area. The first option to drop off the mountain range is 4.5 miles from the road junction. Here the Warm Springs road takes off to the right. This road drops down into the Ruby River drainage where you drive north and return to Montana Highway 287 at Alder, Montana. The next option is another 2.3 miles south. Here the Johnny Gulch road takes off to the left. This road takes you east to the Madison River and US Highway 287 where you go north back to Ennis. The third option is ten miles further. The Standard Creek Road junction is on the left and again drops down to the Madison River. If you have a full day for viewing flowers, you may continue along the Gravelly Range Road 19 miles more as it travels south to the junction with the Ruby River road. You can travel on the Ruby River road north to Alder, Montana, and Montana Highway 287.
Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest headquarters in Dillon, Montana, at (406) 683-3900; or Madison Ranger District in Ennis, Montana, at (406) 682-4253.
Closest Town: Ennis, Sheridan, Bozeman, Dillon; Montana.