Designated in 1964, the Refuge was created to provide habitats for migratory birds. The 2,800 acres of lush riparian and wetland habitats attract a variety of wildlife. About 250 species of birds, 37 species of mammals, and 17 species of reptiles and amphibians have been documented on the Refuge.
Be sure to look for the following common bird groups: waterfowl (33 species), grebe, wading bird, hawk, eagle, swift, flycatcher, corvid, swallow, thrush, warbler, nuthatch, sparrow, blackbird/oriole, grosbeak, and finch.
Keep an eye out for the following common mammals and reptiles/amphibians: American beaver, yellow-bellied marmot, Columbian ground squirrel, yellow-pine chipmunk, red squirrel, Northern flying squirrel, Northern pocket gopher, common muskrat, North American porcupine, coyote, raccoon, long-tailed weasel, American mink, American badger, Northern river otter, white-tailed deer, bullfrog, painted turtle, and garter snake.
Visitors can enjoy wildlife observation, photography, hunting, fishing, environmental education and interpretation on the Refuge. There are 2.5 miles of walking trails at two locations, the Wildlife Viewing Area (WVA) Trail and the Kenai Nature Trail. Both include a .25 mile of accessible asphalt-paved path. These two trails differ by wildlife habitats; the WVA trail meanders through riparian forest bordering the Bitterroot River while the Kenai Nature Trail (trailhead at Headquarters) borders grassland/wetland habitat offering an open landscape vista of the Bitterroot and Sapphire Mountains. Don't have enough time for a walk? Wildfowl Lane is the county road that bisects the Refuge providing drive-thru scenic views of the surrounding landscape and wildlife.
The Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area and the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge are two separate entities with two different contact points.