WildFest: Celebrate Montana's wild places.
Save the date! A full weekend of outdoor adventure awaits:
Friday, September 8th at Fort Missoula
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.
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.
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!
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 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.
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 weekend stay at luxurious PAWS UP Ranch, 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 titles to sign up for your hike. Hurry, they fill up fast!
Bird Watching Hikes
Morning bird walks will be conducted in the Bitterroot and Missoula areas.
Location: Lee Metcalf Refuge
Leader: Deb Goslin
Location: Steven's Island
Leader: Eric Rasmussen
Leaders: Mary Langenderfer and Marilyn Wolff
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
Leaders: Julie Ellison and Katy Koster
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.
Leader: Steve Schombel
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.
Leaders: Chuck Irestone and Peter Lessica
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.
Location: Seeley Lake
Leader: Patti Bartlett
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.
Location: Seeley Lake
Leaders: Lee Boman and Gene Schade
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.
Ninemile Ranger Station Activities
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.
8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Tri-Con Lumber Mill Tour
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.
9:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
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.
10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
Bighorn Sheep Habitat Tour in Petty Mountain Viewing Area
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.
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Tour of historic Ninemile Ranger Station w/ mules & packing demonstration
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.
Grand Menard Family hike
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.
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
3:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Gear Demos, Mule Packing , Fun for the Kids, and Plenty of Food & Drink!
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 gear demos from REI, backcountry skills tips from MWA staff, a mule-packing demo from the Back Country Horsemen, and hands-on activities with local nonprofits, in addition to plenty of activities for kids. Food trucks will be on site with tasty options catering to multiple dietary needs, along with locally crafted beers and cider.
4:00 – 6:00 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 folksy, bluegrass 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!
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.