Wildland Fire Information for Travelers

Montana is 93 million acres of spectacular unspoiled nature. Because of our diverse landscape and weather, wildfires happen as a natural part of Montana’s ecology. Sometimes a fire occurs near a popular destination, but there’s no reason to let it stop you from enjoying your Montana experience. 

According to a recent report from the Montana Drought and Water Advisory Committee, Montana is experiencing the most severe drought in over 20 years. Extreme drought combined with the current forest health crisis has created a significant risk for wildfires. Help Montanans reduce the risk by recreating responsibly.

If you have questions or would like assistance with your Montana itinerary, feel free to call a travel counselor at 800.847.4868 or go to VISITMT.com to start a live chat.


Latest Activity

Updated August 10, 2022 8:00 AM

ELMO FIRE near Kalispell

The Elmo Fire is at 21,348 acres and 61% containment. There are no closures at this time. Planned actions for today include securing the fire's edge and strengthening containment lines by utilizing ground crews, helicopters, scoopers, and interagency hotshot crews.

The Elmo 2 Fire started July 29, 2022 in the Deep Draw area along Highway 28 along the west side of Flathead Lake. The fire started in grass and made its way into the timber north of Highway 28.

Drivers need to be aware of existing hazards near the fire area including smoke and firefighter vehicles while driving on Highway 93. Speed limits reduced to 35 mph on Lake Mary Ronan Road (Hwy 352).

For current information on the Elmo 2 Fire, follow https://www.facebook.com/CSKT.Division.of.Fire 


Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone's North and South loops are open. Due to a previous flooding event, the North and Northeast entrances remain closed. Bicycles are allowed on limited portions of the North and Northeast entrance roads. Click here for Current Conditions.

Beartooth Highway
The Beartooth Highway is open from Red Lodge to Cooke City, MT. Note: At this time, the NE entrance to Yellowstone Park at Silver Gate/Cooke City is still closed. Yellowstone Park can be access at the East entrance (Cody, WY). 

Glacier National Park
A vehicle reservation is required for both the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor and the North Fork from May 27 to September 11, 2022. There is also a nightly closure (10 pm to 6 am) on Going-to-the-Sun Road 1.5 miles north of the West Entrance to Sprague Creek Campground for construction work.. Click here for Current Conditions. 

Road and Travel Condition
The Montana Department of Transportation maintains an updated list of current conditions, closures, and information for travelers.  Their interactive map is a useful travel planning tool.


Fishing Restrictions water flows
Low water flows and high temperatures on rivers can result in closures or "hoot owl" restrictions for specific allowable times to fish. Hoot Owl Fishing Restriction prohibits fishing each day between 2 p.m. and midnight. Fishing Closure prohibits any fishing on the stretch of water specified.

  Current hoot owl restrictions are now in place for these rivers:

  • Beaverhead River: from the mouth to Selway Park FAS at Dillon
  • Bighole River: from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Tony Schoonen Fishing Access Site, From Dickie Bridge to the North Fork Big Hole River, and From Saginaw Bridge on Skinner Meadow Road to the North Fork Big Hole River
  • Bitterrroot River: from the confluence with Clark Fork River upstream to the confluence of East Fork and West Fork Bitterroot River
  • Clark Fork River: from the confluence of Flathead River upstream to the confluence of the Bitterroot River and from the confluence of Flint Creek to the confluence with Warm Springs Creek and Silver Bow Creek at the Gas City Bridge
  • East Gallatin River: from the confluence with the West Gallatin River at Nixon Bridge to the confluence of Rocky Creek and Bear Creek
  • Gallatin River: from the mouth to Cameron Bridge Road
  • Jefferson River: the entire Jefferson River
  • Madison River: from the confluence with the Jefferson River to Madison Dam and from Ennis Reservoir to Eight Mile Ford Fishing Access Site
  • Ruby River: from the confluence with the Beaverhead River to Duncan District Road crossing
  • Shields River: from the confluence with the Yellowstone River to Shields River Road Bridge between Jordan Bench Road and Pinkerton Road
  • Silver Bow Creek:  from its confluence with Warm Springs Creek at Gas City Road Bridge to the confluence of Blacktail Creek at Montana Street in Butte
  • Smith River: from Eden Bridge south of Great Falls to the confluence of North and South Forks
  • Sun River: from the mouth of Muddy Creek to the Hwy 287 Bridge
  • Yellowstone River: from the Mayor's Landing Fishing Access Site to Sheep Mountain Fishing Access Site

Current Fire Restrictions

There is an increasing number of fire restrictions being put in place across Montana. Continued dry, windy, and hot conditions will rapidly change the number and stage of restrictions across Montana. Know before you go, especially if you plan to camp, by using this map of current fire restriction information by area at MTFIREINFO.ORG.

Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions require users to build, maintain, attend or use campfires and charcoal fires only at developed or designated recreation sites or campgrounds in an agency provided metal fire ring. Smoking is allowed only within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is cleared of all flammable materials. Remember to  bring a bucket, water, shovel and to always leave your campfire dead out, which means no heat to the touch. 

Stage 2 Fire Restrictions
Stage 2 Fire Restrictions prohibit building maintaining, attending, or using a fire or campfire; smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials; operating motorized vehicles off designated roads and trails.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks maintains a guide to Stage One and State Two Restrictions and Closure Definitions at https://fwp.mt.gov.

National Forest Alerts and Notices

National Forests and the ranger districts within each Forest have alerts and restrictions based on the conditions in the district.  Please check the current conditions in the Forest and district you plan to visit, including fire restrictions, camping regulations, and any trail or road closures.

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

Bitterroot National Forest

Custer Gallatin National Forest

Flathead National Forest

Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest

Kootenai National Forest

Lolo National Forest


Smoke and Air Quality Conditions

Air quality conditions across Montana can impacted by smoke from numerous wildland fires within Montana and adjoining states. Good to Moderate conditions span Montana this week as a ridge of high pressure returns the region to hot and dry conditions. This return will likely kick up fire activity, increasing the potential for smoke and haze over the state, especially directly downwind from active fires.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services maintains a website with health information related to wildfire smoke. To access it, click here.

Multiple factors contribute to air quality and conditions can change often. If smoke is heavy or you’re sensitive to it, you may wish to consider adjusting your itinerary until air quality improves. Try exploring a different area (see things to do at VisitMT.com). Even if you see smoke, it doesn't necessarily mean you’re close to a fire. Sometimes smoke blows in from hundreds of miles away. 

For up-to-date air quality conditions from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, click here.


Webcams

See the view before you go from a variety of webcams across the state.
NOTE: The following links go to websites maintained by third parties.

State Agencies

National Park Service


Additional Resources


Do Your Part This Wildland Fire Season

As the weather becomes warmer and wildland vegetation, or fuels, begin to dry out, it is time to plan for wildland fires. Here are some tips to help you #RecreateResponsibly and do your part for wildfire prevention and safety during this fire season.

  • KNOW BEFORE YOU GO—Know how to prevent wildfires by properly using outdoor equipment, learning campfire safety, and checking for fire restrictions and closures.

  • PLAN AHEAD—Know what fire restrictions are in place at your destination, and check if campfires, barbecues, and flammables are allowed.

  • EXPLORE LOCALLY—Impacts from wildfire can change your travel plans. Have a back-up plan, like close-to-home gems that you have yet to explore.

  • PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING—Give people space – it’s critical to not crowd firefighting efforts. Wildfires are no-drone-zones.

  • PLAY IT SAFE—From fireworks to camp stoves, understand the potentially explosive nature of your toys and tools – some may be restricted in your location.

  • LEAVE NO TRACE—Keep your campfire small, ensure that its out completely and cold to the touch prior to leaving or going to sleep.

  • BUILD AN INCLUSIVE OUTDOORS—Everyone experiences the outdoors differently, and we can work together to keep our communities safe.

Wildland Fires are No Drone Zones

Flying a drone near a wildland fire is breaking the law.  Drones and firefighting aircraft don't mix. If you fly, they can't! No Drone Zone PSA.