The first weeks here in Montana were cold, windy and definitely not kayaking weather. The first day we had off when the weather held a promise of summer we headed to Elk Lake. This lake is in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest just beyond the Red Rock Lakes NWR border. It isn’t a large lake but as you will see, a lake for a leisurely paddle, scenery and viewing wildlife. Fellow volunteer Marilyn came along and used our single person canoe. Elk Lake is most frequented by fishermen. There is a small boondock campground there as well.
Upper Red Rock Lake on the refuge will open July 1 when the trumpeter swans have finished nesting. T At the far end of Elk Lake we saw a trumpeter swan nesting so we kept well back from it. Swans can be forced to abandon their nests if they feel threatened. A distance of at least 400 yards is recommended.
After paddling we drove further up Elk Lake Road (the word “road” is used loosely – 4 wheel drive only) to Hidden Lake. Hopefully we’ll have time to paddle there as well. Our time here is going very quickly. If you enjoy nature related activities there is a lot to do in the area.
We thought that Red Rock Creek and the refuge might have been named for the rusty colored lichen that covers many of the rocks in the area. The shore along Elk Lake is very colorful. I used a post processing filter from Topaz to convert the original photo to a supersaturated cartoon version. Later we learned the name came from a huge red rock formation seen off I-15 near Dell, Montana.
We have driven up to the Elk Lake area several evenings since our paddling visit. On one recent visit we found the hillside overlooking the lake full of bitterroot, Montana’s state flower. These low growing plants prefer gravelly soil and cling to rocky hillsides. Opal loves coming here too since she can run free and chase the ground squirrels.