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U.S. Forest Service

Northern Region Viewing Area


wildflowers viewed from the Red Canyon Trail. Wildflowers along the Red Canyon Trail. Photo source: Andrew Pils.

Balsamorhiza macrophylla. Balsamorhiza macrophylla. Photo source: Tris Hoffman.

Red Canyon/Cabin Creek Divide

Forest: Gallatin National Forest

District: Hebgen Lake Ranger District

Description: This is an excellent hiking area for young and old alike. The access road (#681) passes through mountain meadows and forested habitats that are often choked with wildflowers. A short trail west of the trailhead offers easy hiking with both meadow and forest habitats. The lower portion of the Red Canyon Trail (#205) is easy walking and within 1/3 mile, passes over an earthquake scarp and a small patch of the sensitive plant Large-leaved Balsamroot. The trail then climbs and becomes more challenging, breaking into gorgeous subalpine meadows with whitebark pine and spectacular views. Wildflowers are extremely diverse, from shade loving twinflower, pyrola, and saxifrage, to sun loving harebell and green gentian. Viewing is best from early July to mid-August.

Safety First: Grizzly and black bear, mountain lion and moose inhabit the area. Several precautions can reduce the risk of negative encounters with wildlife: 1) Hike in groups; 4 or more people is best. 2) Make plenty of noise. This alerts wildlife to your presence and gives animals an opportunity to depart. 3) Stay alert. 4) Do not approach wildlife. Back away or take a different route in wildlife are encountered. 5) Carry pepper spray.

Directions: From the intersection of Highways 191 and 287 (8 miles north of West Yellowstone), drive west on Highway 287 ~5 ½ miles along Hebgen Lake. Turn north on the Red Canyon Road (#681) and drive north ~2 ½ miles to the Red Canyon Trailhead (trail #205).

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Gallatin National Forest, Hebgen Lake Ranger District located in West Yellowstone, 406-823-6961.

Closest Town: West Yellowstone, Montana.