• A hiker on Lonesome Ridge above Mills Falls on the Rocky Mountain Front.

Wild Fest

Home Join Us Wild Fest
Photo by Gene Sentz

Wild Fest 2016

Join us for this exciting celebration of Montana's wild places.

Music and Events

Friday, September 9

Bring your camp chair and be prepared to to be inspired by the beauty of Montana as written in song. This is an outdoor event, so plan accordingly for the weather.

5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Rob and Halladay Quist with artist Valley Lopez
Two of the West’s premiere singer/songwriters and dynamic performers together with a world-class percussionist present a memorable evening of award winning songs. Their music glides effortlessly across the boundaries of jazz, country, bluegrass, folk, pop, and blues

6:30 p.m.
MWA honors our dedicated volunteers with the 2016 Brass Lantern and Founders’ Award ceremony. We are also holding the traditional auctioning of our Huckleberry Pie.

After Party! Head over to the Celtic Cowboy (116 1st Ave. South, Great Falls) for more live music and discounted drinks for Wild Fest event participants.

Saturday, September 10

2:00 – 3:30 pm
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center Auditorium
Admission to this program is free, but entrance fees apply for touring the Interpretive Center.

Badger-Two Medicine
Join us for a sneak peek of a documentary film that tells the story of the Blackfeet Nation’s efforts to prevent oil and gas development in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine region. Filmmaker Daniel Glick will be on hand to share stories of the making of the film, and MWA Rocky Mountain Front Field Director Casey Perkins will give an update on the latest efforts to protect this special place.

3:00 – 8:00 pm
On the lawn at Giant Springs State Park’s Heritage Picnic Area
Bring your camp chairs and blankets. This is an outdoor event, so plan accordingly for the weather. Learn, laugh, and play with family activities and displays provided by MWA, as well as by our non-profit, agency, and business partners. Bring the whole family for a day of fun, food, inspiration, and entertainment.

5:30 – 8:00 pm
Laney Lou and the Bird Dogs
Enjoy a rich blues-driven sound drawing from old country, classic, modern rock, and old-timey traditions. This lively Bozeman-based band has been making an impact on the Montana music scene since 2013.

We welcome our invited guests, including Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Blackfeet Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes, and mayor of Great Falls, Bob Kelly.

After Party! Head over to the Celtic Cowboy (116 1st Ave. South, Great Falls) for more live music and discounted drinks for Wild Fest event participants.

BACK TO TOP

Hikes

Join us Friday for longer hikes on the Rocky Mountain Front and Saturday for shorter hikes in the Great Falls area.  Hikes depart from various locations around Great Falls. Space is limited and reservations are required. Please, no dogs on these hikes.

Friday, September 9

Old North Trail

Trail Miles: 2
Difficulty: Easy, no elevation gain
Group Size: 15
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 7:15 a.m. or the Choteau Information Centerat 8:15 a.m.
Group Size: 15
Leaders: Al Wiseman, Roxie Halter and Dan Bennett

Al Wiseman, a Metis and member of the Little Shell Band of the Chippewa, is a noted cultural specialist leading the hike on this oldest trail in the Americas. Al has led many trips along this 12,000-year-old route. Join him for a trek along a short stretch of the Old North Trail with many interpretive stops on the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area along the way.

Click Here to Register for this Walk

Indian Head Rock

Trail Miles: 2.5
Difficulty: Moderate, 700 ft. elevation gain
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 7:15 a.m. or the Choteau Information Center at 8:15 a.m.
Group Size: 15
Leaders: Gene Sentz and Dave Shea

We’ll car pool west from Choteau to the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest boundary. The hike climbs from the South Fork of the Teton River through pine and fir forest and summits on the cliffs of Indian Head Rock for spectacular views looking down on the forks of the Teton River eastward toward the Great Plains. To the west are the peaks in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Rocky Mountain Front Conservation Management Area.

Click Here to Register for this Walk

Devils Glen 

Trail Miles: 7
Difficulty: Moderate
Group Size: 15
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 8:00 a.m. or from the U.S.F.S. office in Augusta 9:30 a.m. Leaders: Casey Perkins and Holly Baker Wulf

Join MWA staff member Casey Perkins and former staffer Holly Baker Wulf for a hike along a rugged stretch of the upper Dearborn River as we travel through the heart of the newly designated “Dearborn/Falls Creek” area, added to the Scapegoat Wilderness with the passage of the Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act in 2014. Hikers will be rewarded with majestic views of the reefs and cliffs that form the Dearborn River Canyon en route to the stunning waterfall and clear, deep pools near Devils Glen. This is an easy to moderate hike that follows the river into the rugged country of the southern stretch Rocky Mountain Front.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Headquarters Pass

Trail Miles: 7.5
Difficulty: Strenuous, 2,100 ft. elevation gain
Group Size: 13
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 7:30 a.m. or Choteau Information Center at 8:30 a.m. Leaders: Len Kopec and Roy Jacobs

Hikers who make the climb to Headquarters Pass are rewarded with stunning views into the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and an up-close look at Rocky Mountain Peak, the highest summit on the Front. The trail climbs through rugged, open country and passes a cascading waterfall that emanates from a large alpine spring. Mountain goats are commonly seen in the area.  The Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act provided Wilderness protection for this entire area in December of 2014.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Mount Wright

Trail Miles: 7 to 8
Difficulty: Very strenuous, 3,100 ft. elevation gain
Group Size: 13
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 6:30 a.m.
Leaders: Tom & Katie Kotynski

Mount Wright sits above the north and west forks of the Teton River. At the top there will be 360 degrees of some of the best views on the Rocky Mountain Front: to the west, clear across the Bob Marshall Wilderness to the Swan Range; to the north, Mount St. Nicholas; to the south, the high Teton peaks, including Baldy, Rocky, and Ear Mountain; to the east, the back side of the Front, particularly massive Choteau Mountain. This is grizzly country and the haunt of famously high winds, with little or no shade.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Saturday, September 10

Sun Canyon Kids Hike

Trail Miles: 3.5, 200 ft. elevation gain.
Difficulty: Easy
Group Size: 20
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 7:30 a.m.
Leader: Amy Grisak

We will follow an early trail into the scenic Sun River Canyon to view some interesting pictographs and dozens of red ochre handprints left on the canyon many years ago. On the return trip, we’ll travel through cottonwoods along the Sun River, learn a few plants, talk about the geology of the region, search for wildlife signs, and enjoy the scenery. After returning to the vehicles, there will be an option to extend the hike (depending on our time) into Wagner Basin, where we will see more pictographs, look for bighorn sheep, and see a few old beaver dams and lodges.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Birding Giant Springs

Trail Miles: 1
Difficulty: Easy
Group Size: 15
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from the Giant Springs State Park parking lot at 7:00 a.m.
Leaders: Harriet Marble and Liz Larcom

Two of Montana’s most accomplished birders lead a short but spectacular hike through one of the hottest birding areas in the state. Birders will leave from the Giant Springs parking lot and travel the high trail towards the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center before dropping down to the Missouri River for the return to the park at 9:00 a.m.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Monument Peak

Trail Miles: 1
Difficulty: Easy
Group Size: 20
Meeting Time and Place: Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 8:00 a.m.
Leaders: Randy Gray and Mark Good

Experience Monument Peak in the Little Belt Mountains. The group will set out for a short, easy hike along the ridge that provides a grand view of the Tenderfoot and Deep Creek drainages. This is Smith River Country, a place where MWA is working to protect wilderness character.

Click Here to Register for this Walk

Paine Gulch

Trail Miles: 4 to 6
Difficulty: Moderate
Group Size: 15
Meeting Time and Place: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 8:00 a.m.
Leaders: Beth Ihle and Gordon Whirry

The Paine Gulch hike will be an up-and-back hike into Paine Gulch, a tucked-away valley covered by ponderosa pines, Douglas fir, and aspens. Paine Gulch was identified as a Research Natural Area in the Lewis and Clark Forest Plan in 1986 for its quiet recreational setting and its appearance as a relatively untouched landscape. Paine Gulch is bordered by Paleozoic era cliff forming limestones, and is capped at its upper end by Servoss Mountain at 7230 feet. The Monarch Fire in 2001 burned a portion of the upper end. Bring water, a sack lunch, and dress for weather.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

Sulphur Springs

Trail Miles: 3.6
Difficulty: Moderate
Group Size: 25
Meeting Time and Place: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center parking lot at 8:00 a.m.
Group Size: 25
Leaders: Rangers Darian Kath and Ray Tetreault

Join us for a moderately difficult hike through open plains and coulees to Sulphur Spring, otherwise known as Sacagawea Spring, the site where water was collected to help heal the ailing young woman during the Lewis and Clark expedition through Great Falls. This hike will take you through a beautiful landscape, but has high sun exposure, switchbacks, arid environment plant life, and the possibility of snakes, so please wear sturdy, close-toed shoes or boots. Also recommended: two bottles of water, a snack, sunscreen, a hat, hiking stick or trekking poles, and insect repellant.

Click Here to Register for this Walk

First Peoples Buffalo Jump

Trail Miles: 3
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous, 500 feet elevation gain and loss Group Size: 25
Meeting Time and Place: Depart from Paris Gibson Square in Great Falls at 9:15 a.m. or at the park visitor center west of Ulm at 10:00 a.m.
Leaders: First Peoples Buffalo Jump Park Ranger and Ralph Knapp

Hike with a Montana State Parks’ ranger to the top of First Peoples Buffalo Jump on this guided tour along a 3-mile roundtrip interpretive trail. During the hike you’ll learn about the jump’s history and how the First Peoples survived here long ago. The hike will begin and end at the park’s visitor center. Participants should dress for the weather, bring water, snack if desired, a hat, and wear appropriate footwear. The hike will last about 2.5 hours.

Click Here to Register for this Walk

Crown Butte

Trail Miles: 4
Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous, 1,000 feet elevation gain Group Size: 20
Meeting time and place: Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls at 9:00 a.m.
Leaders: Ida Johnson and Frank Smith

To sign up visit www.portagechapter.weebly.com at least 10 days prior to this outing. This is a leisurely hike to the top of Crown Butte, one of a number of buttes west of Great Falls and south of Simms. The Portage Route Chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation and MWA are partnering to put on this exciting hike. Bring lunch for a picnic on top of the butte. Wear sturdy boots and come prepared for all types of weather.

Sluice Boxes State Park

Trail Miles: 6
Difficulty: Strenuous
Meeting Time and Place: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Headquarters at 4600 Giant Springs Road in Great Falls at 8:00 a.m.
Group Size: 15
Leaders: Colin Maas, Clark Carlson-Thompson, Camille Consolvo and Mike Dannells

Join us for a hike into the picturesque canyon of Sluice Boxes State Park! Hikers will depart from the Overlook Access Trailhead on the west rim of the park and hike down into the canyon, connecting with the trail that follows an abandoned rail bed. The destination will be to hike south to the train tunnel and back out, following the same trail to the Overlook Access. The trail is narrow, rocky, and steep in areas with some sections traversing cliff edges. No creek crossings are necessary. Come prepared with snacks and a lunch, a minimum of two liters of drinking water, and sturdy hiking boots or shoes. Colin Maas will provide information regarding management issues and history of the park at various stopping points along the way.

This hike and waitlist are full and have been closed for sign-up.

BACK TO TOP

Event Information

Lodging

Room Reservations can be made at the Histroic Hotel Arvon starting at $99 per night.  Call 406-952-1101 and say you are attending the MWA Wild Fest to receive the group rate.

Room reservations can be made at LaQuinta for a group rate starting at $98 per night.
Call 406-761-2600 before August 4 and say you are attending the MWA Wild Fest to receive the group rate.

Camping

Tent camping is available at Giant Spring State Park for $30 for the weekend. Services are limited. To check availability, reserve your spot, or receive more information, call the Giant Springs Ranger Station at 406-727-1212 or click here.

Great Falls KOA offers RV and tent camping sites, as well as cabin rentals. Prices vary. For more information or to reserve, call 1-800-562-6584 or visit koa.com/campgrounds/great-falls.

Auction and Merchandise

Bid on adventure packages, gear, art, and more. The silent auction will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday and will close that evening around 7 p.m.

Pick up great MWA merchandise, including t-shirts, hats, books, maps, and more.

Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers to help us set up, clean up, sell merchandise, assist in the silent auction, and conduct the kids' activities. To sign up to volunteer, click here.  Once you sign up you will be contacted via email on September 6th with specific details about volunteering.  If you have any questions please contact Laura Parr at lparr@wildmontana.org or call (406) 443-7350 ext. 110.

Parking

Friday, September 9: Parking available at Giant Springs State Park; and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters.

Saturday, September 10: Parking available at Giant Springs State Park, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

On Saturday the historic Great Falls Trolley will run from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center to Giant Springs State Park from 4:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Food and Drink

A variety of delicious sandwiches, vegetarian options, snacks, desserts, non-alcoholic drinks, beer, and wine will be for sale throughout the weekend.

Local breweries will provide craft beers, and you will be able to vote for your favorite brew. The winning beer will be announced on Saturday evening.

Black Eagle Brewery will serve Hikers IPA 
Bowser Brewing Company will serve Lost Trail Pilsner
Harvest Moon Brewing Company will serve Little & Big Belts
Mighty Mo Brewing Company will serve Wild Fest Farmhouse Ale
The Front will serve the Rocky Mountain Front

  

BACK TO TOP

Self-Guided Activities and Museums

River’s Edge Trail

Great Falls is host to some of the best biking, running, and hiking trails in Montana. Explore the River’s Edge Trail, which includes multiple attractions along the route. For more information and to download a detailed map of the trail, visit thetrail.org.

Children’s Museum of Montana

The Children’s Museum of Montana exists to ignite a lifelong passion for learning through hands-on exploration of science, math, and culture.

On Saturday, September 10 the museum will host a special children’s program. For more information, directions, and entrance fee information, visit childrensmuseumofmontana.org or call 406-452-6661.

CM Russell Museum

C.M. Russell Museum features its “Going to the Sun: Artists in Glacier National Park” exhibition, which pays tribute to those artists who have captured the breathtaking landscape and people of Glacier National Park and brings together over 140 objects to examine the distinct contributions of artists who shaped the way Americans first saw Glacier Park.

The exhibition “From Walls around the Falls” will showcase historic artwork currently or formerly held in private collections in Great Falls and the surrounding region. Curator Duane Braaten will provide guided tours of the exhibit at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 10. Become a member today to join a member-exclusive party with cocktails and appetizers on September 9.

For more information, directions, and entrance fee information, visit cmrussell.org or call 406-727-8787.

BACK TO TOP

Special thanks to the following Wild Fest partners:

Black Eagle Brewery
Bowser Brewing Company
Harvest Moon Brewery
Hi Ho Tavern
Historic Great Falls Trolley
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center
Mighty Mo Brewing Company
Montana Waste Systems
Sting Sports Bar & Casino
The Front Brewing Company
Williams and Roberts Fine BBQ

Wild Fest is hosted in partnership
with Giant Springs State Park. 

Thank you to our event Sponsors:

Wild Fest 2016 Sponsors

BACK TO TOP

Blog

Lend a Hand

Support our public lands through stewardship. Volunteering and hard work never looked so fun!