The Rocky Mountain Front is one of the most treasured areas in the state of Montana. It encompasses the eastern edge of the Rockies and the adjacent prairie. This region stretches from Simms to Browning and even into Canada. While most of Montana’s landscape transitions from mountains to prairie gradually, the Front’s abrupt transition creates an entirely different landscape. Travelers heading west across the prairie could see the mountains several miles away. Nevertheless, the Front is still valued for its beautiful ranches and spectacular scenery. Its wilderness areas are also recognized as important wildlife habitats.
The Front is filled with caves and alcoves, which are filled with fossilized creatures that once roamed the area. Most of these caves are unexplored, and accessing them requires rappelling. This makes exploring them all the more rewarding. There are many other opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area. If you’re interested in exploring the Front, be sure to take advantage of the Crown of the Continent map guide to the area.
The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is home to nearly every species of wild animal. In fact, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex is made up of the eastern slope of Rocky Mountain Peak, which is 9,392 feet high. While all of these animals live in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Red Mountain stands above the others. These critters were present when Lewis and Clark passed through the Front and explored the region. Consequently, the Bob Marshall Wilderness remains a treasured place for the state.
In the northeastern portion of the Front, Wind speeds are generally weaker. Although Windy Mountain’s average speed is higher than some other places, it is less windy at Deep Creek. The Front also receives a great deal of snow. On Feb. 21, 2002, the tallest wind gust was recorded at Miller Colony, near Choteau. In November, the highest monthly average wind speed was 24.8 mph at Deep Creek, one of the many wilderness additions approved under the Heritage Act.
The Front also has several large ranches that provide critical habitat for wildlife. Its largest native sheep population in the country is found here. Wildlife species include wolves, golden eagles, prairie and peregrine falcons. The second largest migratory elk herd in the nation uses the Front as a wintering ground. The area also hosts west slope cutthroat trout, and a thriving trout population.
The Sawtooth Range and the Continental Divide are two other key features of the Rocky Mountain Front. A series of rifts known as thrust faults transport the upper plate. These faults create imbricate thrust zones and repeat stratigraphic units as they shorten. The youngest movements in the thrust system occur along the front edge. This region is also known for its tectonic features, including the Eldorado Thrust and the Lewis Thrust.
Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park offer breathtaking views of the mountains. Montana’s central region is also famous for its mining history. Prospectors flocked to the area during the nineteenth century to strike it rich in minerals. Today, you can still find quaint towns from the gold rush days – many of which have been preserved and are dotted with historical attractions. For those who have a knack for hiking, the Highline Trail is a must-do!