Elk breeding usually occurs in September and October, and it is during the breeding season, or rut, that large numbers of elk congregate at the Slippery Ann Elk Viewing Area. Peak numbers of bull elk can be viewed in this area around the second and third weeks of September.
Records from recent years show that nearly 500 elk may visit the elk viewing area in September, though this can vary from year to year. Numbers continue to remain high through early October, and then begin to decline as the harems (groups of cows) break up and the bulls begin to once again feed and store up reserves for the winter ahead.
Fun fact: According to Jody Jones of the Refuge:
The name Slippery Ann is a twice-butchered name for a nearby creek. On old topographical maps, the creek was written "Cyprian," possibly a reference to the early Christian bishop of the same name. Somewhere along the way, that got changed to "Siparyann." Because no one could understand refuge staff when they said the word on the phone, it was changed to Slippery Ann.
Protect yourself and the elk:
- The boundary of the Elk Viewing Area is clearly posted from the Slippery Ann Campground to Slippery Ann Creek, on both sides of Route #201. The area beyond the the road in the Elk Viewing Area is closed to public entry. Please remain at road's edge while you enjoy watching the elk.
- Being too close or disturbing animals can be very stressful to wildlife and unsafe for you. Use binoculars, spotting scopes or telephoto camera lenses to "get closer."
- Respect other viewers.
- Keep pets leashed and under control at all times.
- The use of artificial light to locate wildlife, including elk, is prohibited at all times on Charles M. Russell NWR. This includes the use of spotlights, flashlights and your vehicle headlights.
- Please be aware that collection of shed antlers and animal skulls is illegal. These items are an important source of calcium for elk, deer and other wildlife on the Refuge.
The Upper Slippery Ann Camping Area overlooks the elk on the river. This area has no utilities so it is best for campers and motorhomes. There are fire pits there and an outhouse a couple miles down the road.
James Kipp Campground is only a few miles away if you're looking for more amenities.
How to Get There
Other Things You Might Like
James Kipp Recreation Area
Located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and within the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, the James Kipp Recreation Area offers interpretive signage, 19 single units and 15 multi/group camp sites, drinking water, public telephone, a floaters tent camp site, boat ramp, fish cleaning table, 8 restroom sites, and an RV dump station. There is a host on site during the summer season. All facilities are handicapped accessible.
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
Encompassing approximately 1.1 million acres, Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge provides a rare opportunity to experience wild lands and wildlife in a natural setting. Visitors to the Refuge can enjoy Refuge wildlife and scenic grandeur in nearly the same surroundings as encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805.
American Prairie Reserve
American Prairie Reserve (APR) is a freestanding Montana-based nonprofit that started to assemble land in 2004. The main focus is to purchase and permanently hold title to private lands that glue together a vast mosaic of existing public lands so that the region is managed thoughtfully and collaboratively with state and federal agencies for wildlife conservation and public access.
Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
The Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument contains a spectacular array of biological, geological, and historical objects of interest. From Fort Benton to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, the monument spans 149 miles of the Upper Missouri River, the adjacent Breaks country, and portions of Arrow Creek, Antelope Creek, and the Judith River. The monument includes six wilderness study areas, the Cow Creek Area of Critical Environmental Concern, segments of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, the Fort Benton National Historic Landmark, a watchable wildlife area, and the Missouri Breaks Back Country Byway.