Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge is located on the heavily glaciated rolling plains of northeastern Montana, between the Missouri River and the Canadian border. The refuge was established in 1935 to provide important breeding and stopover habitat for a diverse array of migratory birds. The refuge consists of two noncontiguous tracts of land totaling 31,702 acres. The north tract includes the 8,218 acre Medicine Lake, five smaller lakes, and numerous potholes totaling 28,438 acres. Within the main tract of the refuge, the 11,360-acre Medicine Lake Wilderness Area was established by Congress in 1976, including the 2,320-acre Sandhills Unit. The Sandhills area is quite unique with rolling hills, native grass, and brush patches. The south tract is located near Homestead, MT and consists of 3,264 total acres with 1,280 acres of wetlands. Thousands of migrating waterfowl make their summer home at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge. Great blue herons, white pelicans, sandhill cranes, grebes and 12 different species of ducks share the prairie lake ecosystem.
Wildlife Drive - The wildlife drive begins on the entrance road to the refuge headquarters which follows the north shore of Medicine Lake heading east from Highway 16. The drive traverses 14 miles of wetland and grassland habitat. Interpretive signs are positioned along the drive to give visitors more information on natural and cultural resources as well as management practices. Visitors can continue on to the Pelican Overlook, located at the end of the 1.2 mile vehicle trail leading to Bridgerman Point. This accessible viewing platform provides binoculars so visitors can observe the American white pelican colony on Big Island and/or Bridgerman Point. Also look for great blue heron, black-crowned night heron, and double crested cormorants as well as several gull and tern species nesting in this area. There are four kiosks in various locations on the refuge to provide general information, direction, and interpretation.
The condition of the gravel roads throughout the refuge is usually good, but we may issue temporary closures if rain or snow causes the roads to become hazardous. During the hunting season (Sept 30 - Jan 1), a portion of the Wildlife Drive is closed to protect migratory birds. During this time you may still access the east section of the wildlife drive via East Lake Highway.
Camping is not allowed on the refuge. Hunting is allowed in specified areas during certain times. Please check with the refuge office for more information about hunting.
Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge also oversees administration of the Northeast Montana Wetland Management District (WMD). The WMD was established in 1968 to provide breeding habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. The WMD includes Sheridan, Roosevelt and Daniels counties and consists of 44 Waterfowl Production Areas (WPAs) totaling 11,791 acres and protects an additional 19,656 acres of wetland and/or grassland easement. Waterfowl Production Areas are lands owned and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and are purchased with money generated from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps to provide wetlands and surrounding grasslands for the benefit of waterfowl and other migratory birds. The WPAs within the WMD range in size from the 4-acre Muddy Creek WPA to Goose Lake WPA at 1,660 acres. Hunting is permitted on WPAs in accordance with State and Federal regulations.