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WildFest 2017

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Photo by Brian Christianson

WildFest: Celebrate Montana's wild places.

Save the date for a full weekend of outdoor adventure, live music, hikes, family activities, gear demos, food and drinks

WildFest 2017

September 8-9, 2017

Northern Rockies Heritage Center
and Fort Missoula Regional Park
Missoula, MT

Friday, September 8

An afternoon of conservation stories and activist training,
with an evening reception with guest speaker Pete Fromm and live auction.
Please purchase your entry ticket here. 

Saturday, September 9

Hikes to locals' best kept secrets, birding, activities for kids and dogs, and gear demos.
Plus evening foot-stompin' music, local food, and craft brews.


Book your rooms now, as reservations will fill up quickly!


Learn more about how you can help with this fantastic event. Sign up here!


Thank you to our event partners.


Friday, September 8th at Fort Missoula

Heritage Hall


Northern Rockies Heritage Hall, Fort Missoula

30 Fort Missoula Rd
Missoula, MT 59804
Directions here

Parking is available around the grass circle at the Heritage Center, along with an adjacent parking area behind Lolo National Forest headquarters.


Noon - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch and Socializing

Swap adventure stories, explore new trails, and enjoy some of the region’s best music at this year’s WildFest. The Friday activities will start at noon and we recommend bringing your own lunch before diving into what you can do to protect Montana’s public lands.

12:45 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Welcome to WildFest

We’ll welcome you to Missoula with a virtual tour of our community’s backyard wildlands from Confederated Salish and Kootenai. Our Western Montana Field Director will take you on a photographic journey of the Bitterroots and Sapphires, the Great Burn, and the headwaters of the Blackfoot. Hear how we’re working to protect these wildlands and glean ideas for your “must see” adventure list this weekend.

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Spend 20 minutes getting up-close-and-personal by choosing three different Montana regions from the seven that make up MWA. Hear about the latest conservation strategies (and maybe borrow a few ideas for your part of the state), see some gorgeous pictures, and maybe even get a few tips for your next adventure. This is a great chance to get a taste of a few places you’ve never been or hear what’s going on to protect your favorite wild places.

2:45 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.

The Public Lands Rollercoaster

The last 12 months have been quite a ride for public lands, but thanks to all our work during the state legislative session, innovative communications strategies, and a whole lot of grassroots activism, we’re staying ahead of the curve. Learn about the bumps in the road we’ve seen over the last year, how our members have been making a difference, and what the road looks like ahead.

3:15 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Activism 401

These days, there are lots of ways to take action to protect the places you love: call a legislator, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, sign a petition, share events on Facebook, speak at a public meeting, and more. But how does it all work? Who’s really listening? And how are these actions most effective? Get training on three ways to make sure your views are heard!

4:30 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Close out the afternoon with lively conversation and a focus on what you can do to help protect public lands in Montana.

5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Drinks, Appetizers, and Silent Auction

Come mingle with fellow Montana Wilderness Association  members and wildlands supporters. With the $35 entrance fee, you’ll have access to a wide range of appetizers and locally crafted beer, wine, cider, and non-alcoholic drinks. Refresh your gear, plan a night on the town, or get ready for your next adventure when you bid on our silent auction packages, which range from Native sunglasses and goggles, to dinner for two at local Missoula restaurants, to tickets to the Missoula Symphony. The wide range of items will be sure to meet everyone’s interests!

Please purchase tickets for the evening social HERE!

7:00 - 7:15 p.m. 

Opening Remarks and Welcome 

Are you ready to laugh and learn with Pete Fromm? Or hoping to win some of our unique and one-of-a-kind live auction items? Either way, this evening will shape up to be an execiting one for everyone involved!

7:15 – 8:00 p.m.

Pete Fromm

Pete Fromm is a five time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award for his novels If Not For This, As Cool as I Am, and How All This Started, his story collection Dry Rain, and the memoir Indian Creek Chronicles. His second memoir, The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds, was named an Honor Book in the 2016 Montana Book Awards. 

8:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Live Auction

The live auction will feature ten experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Packages include a Yellowstone cabin and one-on-one photography lessons, a  meal from Dropstone Outfitters dropped off at your campsite, a scenic flight with Neptune Aviation, and other unforgettable experiences.



Saturday, September 9th at Fort Missoula Regional Park


Whether you’re visiting Missoula for the first time or you’ve been a local for decades, you’ll discover something new on Saturday’s line-up of hikes and tours. Hikes depart from Fort Missoula Regional Park or meet-up locations near trailheads. Meet-up info will be provided after you register. Space is limited and these hikes fill up fast. Reservations are required, but please don’t hog a spot you won’t use - someone else would love to join in. We ask that you please leave your canine companions at home for these excursions, though dogs are welcome on leash during Saturday afternoon’s festivities at Fort Missoula Regional Park. 

Please click on the links below to sign up for your hike. Hurry, they fill up fast!

Bird Watching Hikes

Location: Lee Metcalf Refuge, Stevensville
Leader: Deb Goslin
Time: 7:30am-10:30am
Description: Meet at 7:30am at the northeast corner of Super 1, at the corner of Route 93 and Stevi Cutoff Road. Limit of 10 people. Dress for the weather and bring binoculars and water. 
Sign up HERE! 

Location: Steven's Island, Missoula
Leader: Eric Rasmussen 
Time: 8:00am-12:00pm
Description: Meet at Bella Vista Pavilion at Fort Missoula Regional Park. Limit of 10 people. Dress for the weather and bring binoculars, water, and a snack. 
Sign up HERE!

Kootenai Creek (HIKE IS FULL)

Miles: 8
Location: Florence
Leaders: Mary Langenderfer and Marilyn Wolff
Sign up HERE!

This is a classic Bitterroot Mountain canyon with spectacular scenery, including a raging creek, moss-covered walls, and rocky, steep cliffs, which can be enjoyed all year long

MaClay Flats (HIKE IS FULL)

Miles: 1.5
Location: Missoula
Leaders: Julie Ellison and Katy Koster
Sign up HERE! 

Join a scavenger hunt for nature’s treasure along the trail to the Bitterroot River. Fall is in the air, and many treasures still abound in nature. This hike is not about the destination but about slowing down to notice all the little details that make nature diverse and amazing. The trail is wheelchair accessible, flat, and circular.

Heart Lake (HIKE IS FULL)

Miles: 4.5
Location: Superior
Leader: Steve Schombel
Sign up HERE!

This short leads to one of the most beautiful lakes in the Great Burn Proposed Wilderness Area. Surrounded by high ridges and rocky peaks, Heart Lake, our turnaround point, is a great place to relax and have lunch.

Hoodoo Pass to Heart Lake (HIKE IS FULL)

Miles: 10
Location: Superior
Leaders: Chuck Irestone and Peter Lessica
Sign up HERE!

Starting at Hoodoo Pass on the Stateline Trail, hike past Dalton, Pearl, and Heart Lakes and finish at the Heart Lake Trailhead. A local wildflower expert will point out and discuss the late season wildflowers abundant along the route.

Clearwater Lake

Miles: 2.6
Location: Seeley Lake
Leader: Patti Bartlett
Sign up HERE! 

Join Seeley Lake teachers and students for a guided hike to the first of six lakes in the Clearwater River Chain-of-Lakes. The views of the Swan Front or the perfectly clear yet colorful lake are unforgettable. This area is adjacent to Bob Marshall Wilderness additions proposed in the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.


Miles: 9.6
Location: Seeley Lake
Leaders: Lee Boman and Gene Schade
Sign up HERE! 

Come hike what may be the quickest route to the crest of the Swan Range, a landscape that would be added to the Bob Marshall Wilderness with passage of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. In terms of views and wildflowers, it may also be the most vivid ways to appreciate the Swan Range and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Chapaaqn (HIKE IS FULL)

Location: Arlee
Miles/Difficulty: 5 miles/Moderate
Leaders: Dave Robertson and Lois Crepeau
Sign up HERE!

A gradual climb along the ridgeline leads to a short scramble up a talus slope to the top of Chpaaqn, a peak along the Reservation Divide. Views at the top are expansive, including the Flathead National Forest, Nine Mile and Missoula valleys, and the Cabinet, Bitterroot, and Mission Mountains.

Ninemile Ranger Station Activities

Please click on the links below to reserve your spot for each adventure!

The historic Ninemile Remount Depot provided experienced packers and their animals to fight fires and work on backcountry projects since the 1930s. Located on the Ninemile Ranger District compound, this historic site is educational, nostalgic and a visual delight, with its Cape Cod architecture, beautiful pasture, and mountain landscapes. Directions here.

9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.

Tri-Con Lumber Mill Tour (Limit 20)

Meet at Ninemile Ranger Station (20325 Remount Road, Huson MT 59846) at 8:30 to carpool to Tri-Con, in St. Regis. Limit 20, ages 12 and above. 

Come tour Tricon Timber in St. Regis to learn about timber markets and how this local mill is evolving as a vibrant part of the local economy. Tricon has been at the forefront of stewardship and forest restoration in western Montana by accessing a sustainable resource while reducing the forest fire fuel that has plagued our country in recent years.

Sign up HERE!

9:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Stewardship Tour (Limit 15)

Meet at Ninemile Ranger Station (20325 Remount Road, Huson MT 59846) at 9:00 to carpool to first site. Limit 15.

Witness the incredible work that Trout Unlimited has completed in ten abandoned mine reclamation projects in the Ninemile Valley. Their work reversed large-scale operations in Upper Ninemile Creek that resulted in multiple thread stream channels, abandoned dredge ponds, and large eroding piles that used to dominate the stream corridor.

Sign up HERE!

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Bighorn Sheep Habitat Tour in Petty Mountain Viewing Area (Limit 20)

Meet at Ninemile Ranger Station (20325 Remount Road, Huson MT 59846) at 9:45 to carpool to site. Limit 20. Bring binoculars and water.

Approximately 8.5 miles long, the Petty Mountain Viewing Area begins at Road 5563 and ends at the junction with Trail 1220. What makes this hike truly amazing, though, is the large herd of bighorn sheep that are frequently seen ambling along the cliffs. Seeing the sheep is not guarenteed, however. 

Sign up HERE!

11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Tour of historic Ninemile Ranger Station w/ mules & packing demonstration (Limit 25)

​Location: Ninemile Ranger Station (20325 Remount Road, Huson MT 59846).  Limit 25.

Park Rangers will be on hand to provide information about the pack animals and firefighters that worked the Northern Rockies during the 1920s and 1940s, while conducting a mule packing demonstration with equipment necessary for managing our wilderness and backcountry resources.

Sign up HERE!

12:30 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.

Grand Menard Family hike (Limit 25)

Meet at Grand Menard Day Use area, one mile past the Ninemile Ranger Station on the Edith Peak Road (#476). Ninemile Ranger Station is at 20325 Remount Road, Huson MT 59846. Limit 25.

Grand Menard, about 1 mile north on the Ninemile ranger station, includes the interpretive Discovery Trail, complete with two loops, each less than a mile long, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

Sign up HERE!


If you want to get away from civilization during WildFest and truly “rough it”, tent camping is available at Kreis Pond, a small campground located a few miles from Ninemile Ranger Station. Bathrooms and a handwashing station will be on-site. This is a first-come first-served campground so there is no need to check in at the ranger station. 

Afternoon and Evening Festivities

Fort Missoula


Bella Vista Pavilion, Fort Missoula

3401-3499 South Ave W
Missoula, MT 59804
Directions here

Parking is available in the large lot on Guidon Avenue next to Bella Vista Pavilion, along with additional parking along 36th Avenue.


3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Gear Demos, Mule Packing , & Fun for the Kids

Get ready for a day filled with gear demos, food trucks, and great local brews at Fort Missoula Regional Park’s brand new Bella Vista Pavilion! Activities will include:
 - packing demos from Montana Backcountry Horsemen
 - raptor presentations from Wild Skies Raptor Center
 - REI gear demos that include navigation, camp stoves, water filtration, and hiking and backpacking
 - bird brain presentations from Bitterroot Audobon Society
 - wilderness skills from Selway Bitterroot Frank Church Foundation
 - alcohol stove demo from MWA's very own Bob Ronan
 - fly fishing casting lessons from Trout Unlimited
 - backcountry first aid presentations 
 - kids activities that include dissecting owl pellets, an insectarium, carnival games, writing & drawing activities

Movie Screenings
Mini Pavilion

Bud's Place
Please join us for at 2:30pm for a showing of "Bud's Place", a documentary celebrating the life of Bud Moore, one of the first dozen conservationists inducted into the Montana Outdoor Hall of Fame. This year-long effort of documentary filmmaker George Sibley will be introduced by Bud's son, Bill, and will follow Bud's journey as a young man graduating from Lolo’s Woodman School during the depression, through his service as the deputy director of the Forest Service’s fire and aviation program in Washington, D.C., to his retirement on "Coyote Forest" where he continued his conservation efforts for Montana.

International Wildlife Film Festival Presents...
MWA is proud to partner with IWFF, an annual wildlife and conservation themed film festival held each April in Missoula that draws in hundreds of filmmakers, scientists, conservationists and enthusiasts and is housed at The Roxy Theater. Films will be run on a 10-20 minute rotation, each with a brief intro followed by Q&A sessions. 

Plenty of Food and Drink

Be sure to come hungry because food trucks will be on site with tasty options catering to multiple dietary needs.
 - Indian and vegetarian/vegan food from Masala
 - tacos from El Cazador
 - hot dogs from Covered Wagon
 - bison burgers from Bitterroot Bison
 - Thai food from Big Thai Country
 - kettle corn from KornUtopia
 - ice cream from Sweet Peaks 

We're also excited to announce that MWA has partnered with Great Burn Brewing for the Go Wild(Fest) Pale Ale, available at the brewery's taproom and during WildFest! Other alcoholic beverages will be sold by Badlander Catering, including three brews from Big Sky Brewing, Western Cider, and Bota wine boxes. Non-alcohlic beverages will also be provided. 

4:00 – 5:30 p.m.

Holy Smokes & The Godforsaken Rollers

Check out Holy Smokes & The Godforsaken Rollers, a multi-instrumentalist duo whose roots and hearts lie with country and delta blues. Be sure to enjoy their old-time porch music with a modern spin!



6:00 – 8:00 p.m.


Be sure to catch Shakewell, a local funk brotherhood of lifelong friends and collaborators known for thumping out funk, neo-soul, and rock'n'roll! You’re welcome to bring camp chairs and picnic blankets, though when listening to Shakewell, you’ll be hard-pressed not to get up and groove.


8:30 – 10 p.m.


Kuinka, a folk band defiant of the label “Americana”, is known for their 2014 debut The Wild North, which propelled the band out of the woods and onto stages across the country and was followed by their 2016 breakout LP The Heartland. After a full day of hikes and adventures, whether you’re ready to sit back on your picnic blanket or dust off your dancing shoes, Kuinka is ready to entertain with tunes from  their recently released EP, Stay Up Late.




A block of rooms has been reserved for Friday and Saturday night at the Holiday Inn: Missoula Downtown. Our special room rate of $132/night can be reserved by calling (406) 721-8550. Rooms will book fast! Be sure to let them know you’re attending WildFest to receive the group rate.

Your weekend in Missoula doesn’t have to end with WildFest! Be sure to check out Destination Missoula’s website dedicated to all things Missoula, including their comprehensive list of Things to Do in the city, along with additional lodging options! Get out there and enjoy one of your final weekends in summer!



Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers to help us set up, clean up, sell merchandise, assist in the silent auction, and conduct the kids' activities. Volunteers are a crucial aspect of WildFest and we wouldn't be able to pull it off with your time and effort!

You can register for shifts through our Eventbrite site HERE!



Thank you to our event partners:



And special thanks to all those who donated to our live and silent auctions!

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