By Robert Lucke
This time of year, many people in this part of Montana head for mountains to recreate. The Bear Paws, the Little Rockies and Glacier National Park get plenty of users.
However, don't overlook Montana prairies and river corridors for wildlife viewing and just good places to spend some vacation time this summer.
Lots of people float the Missouri and Smith Rivers, but few float the Milk River. Yet they say that the river between Fresno and Havre is as beautiful as any river scenery. It is a combination of rolling country, tree-lined river corridors and extreme badland country. All make for an enjoyable experience most all summer long, particularly when water is being let out of Fresno for irrigation in the valley. Caution should be taken, though, in the vicinity of the Havre water weir just west of Havre.
A great wildlife viewing area call the Rookery is located just west of Havre five miles on the west Milk River road. This area running along the Milk River is home to many species of game birds, songbirds and whitetail as well as mule deer. The area has boat launching areas and there are plenty of paths through the area to view the sites.
Across the road is awesome badland formations that are unique to explore and photograph. Some are on public lands and others are on private land, so find out where you are going before you go there. Ask permission before entering private lands.
At Loma, there is a large area of wildlife viewing at the point where the Marias and Missouri Rivers join. That is also a historic area. Get there by turning south just west of Loma across the Marias bridge and follow the signs to both historic and natural history areas. This is a great place to see all sorts of birds and wildlife.
One of the greatest of all the wildlife and bird sanctuaries in all of Montana is located just eight miles east of Malta. Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge is also one of the oldest. It is a temporary home to at least 100,000 ducks and geese during migration times. At times more than 1700 pelicans nest there and more than 236 bird species can be found in this beautiful wetland area. Not only that, but due to the refuge being in a different flight zone, many different waterfowl and birds can be seen and identified there that are not usually seen in north central Montana.