The National Bison Range is a National Wildlife Refuge located in western Montana established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison. The range is one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the US. The size of the bison herd numbers about 500 individuals. The range consists of approximately 18,800 acres with a visitor center, and two scenic roads that allow vehicular access. The refuge is approximately one hour north of Missoula at Moiese, Montana.
Range elevation varies from 2,585 feet at headquarters to 4,885 feet at High Point on Red Sleep Mountain, the highest point on the Range. Much of the National Bison Range was once under prehistoric Glacial Lake Missoula, which was formed by a glacial ice dam on the Clark Fork River about 13,000 to 18,000 years ago. The lake attained a maximum elevation of 4,200 feet, so the upper part of the Refuge was above water. Old beach lines are still evident on north-facing slopes.
It was stiflingly hot as we drove around the range and spotted single bison, bison in pairs and finally, a large group. One smart bison cooled off in the river.