This week's focus takes us to Flathead Lake Montana to the (former) home of the world's biggest bighorn sheep. In addition to Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, the island is habitat for more than 100 different birds and mammals, including osprey, bald eagles, mule deer, coyotes, wild horses, and even the occasional bear. The island is managed as a primitive area, making the park experience very exploratory with a true feeling of a wild landscape.
Accessible only by boat, Wild Horse Island has six boat landing sites, but visitors are welcome to pull their boats to shore on any of the public beach sites.
While most of the island is owned by Montana State Parks, be aware as there is still private property on the island; therefore visitors are prohibited from using private boat docks.
Did you know?
Wild Horse Island is said to have been used by the Pend D'Oreille Native Americans who would pasture their horses on the island to prevent them from being stolen by other tribes!
Due to the variety of wildlife, Wild Horse Island does not allow camping, pets or bikes as they may spook the animals. Fires and smoking are prohibited anywhere on the island.
With approximately 2,164 acres to explore, finding an activity and quiet nature viewing isn't difficult at Wild Horse Island.
What can you do at Wild Horse Island? The question is, what can’t you do?! You can:
✅ Take a hike! The island has four miles of interconnected hiking trails, but visitors are free to explore off-trail as well.
✅ Try and catch your dinner! Fishing is allowed with tribal & state fishing licenses.
✅ Check out the wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons and wild horses.
✅ Warm day? Take a dip in Flathead Lake!
✅ Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you enjoy the views.
✅ Plus so many more!
While you won’t find a full-time park ranger here, each of the six landing sites serves as a trailhead with informational kiosks. In fact, in 2019, the Montana State Parks Foundation is working with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to replace and improve its current informational kiosk system.
Besides the great views and interesting wildlife, you can also find rare, endangered plant life on Wild Horse Island. The island even has a Palouse Prairie ecosystem, one of only three of these biomes in Montana.
And it is because of its unique ecosystem and habitat that is home to so many amazing and unique species, that the Montana State Parks Foundation will be working to eradicate invasive species on the island.
So - let’s get outside! And in the meantime, help support the boots-on-the-ground work the Foundation is doing on the island.
How Will the Foundation Help Wild Horse Island in 2019?
Each year the Foundation chooses a select few projects on-the-ground in Montana State Parks to help make a meaningful and long-term impact.
In 2019, Wild Horse Island is one such project. The Foundation will help fund information kiosk updating, trail maintenance, and invasive weed species management.
If you envision a Wild Horse Island of today for our future generations, I encourage you to donate today to help ensure that it becomes a reality.