Elk Lake

West Yellowstone, Montana (Beaverhead County)

Last Updated: 10/03/2021
5 / 5 ( 4 reviews )
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Seasonal Closure
Typically Open: 05/16 - 12/01
Length: 9.08 miles
Highest Elevation: 6903 feet
Duration: About 1 hour
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: West Yellowstone
Nearest Town w/ Services: West Yellowstone
Official Road Name: 628
Management Agency: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest
District: Ennis Field Office


Highlight: Elk Lake
Elk Lake is one of those out of the way mountain lakes that many of us know for great fishing and some old school social distancing. Hidden Lake and Elk Lake below are both spring-fed with crystal clear waters. Whether you're planning a wedding at Elk Lake Resort or want to escape the crowds and enjoy some fishing at these remote lakes, this trail has something for you. The first part of this trail is located in the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. This area is popular for birders and photographers wanting to photograph the once nearly extinct Trumpeter Swans. The remaining half of this trail is in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, the largest national forest in Montana, covering 3.35 million acres.


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1. Elk Lake Road Trailhead (0 mi)
Elk Lake Road starts at the S Valley Road intersection, 37 miles from Monida and Interstate 15, and 17 miles from the Red Rock Pass turn off at Highway 20. The first portion of this road is gravel and very well maintained. From here to Waypoint 6, this travels through a part of the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Head west at this intersection and follow the road to the north.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Island Park, at Red Rock Pass and Highway 20 intersection or Monida ID along the I-15.

Island Park From Highway 20 and Red Rock Pass Intersection, head west on Red Rock Pass for 7.1 miles. Turn left to stay on Red Rock Pass and continue for another 11 miles. You will cross into Montana when crossing the continental divide. The trail starts and heads west at the intersection of N Valley Road and S Valley Road. From Monida, Idaho, on the I-15 Head northwest on S Valley Road toward McDowell Road for 37 miles. The trail starts at the intersection with N Valley Road.



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Writer Information

Cory W

Mapping Crew - Arizona and Montana

Cory grew up traveling the logging roads outside Durango, CO with his dad for his woodcutting business and fell in love with everything about the outdoors. He's moved around a lot since then, from several rural areas of Southern California to Montana, Wyoming to Arizona, even living on a commercial gold mine in Nevada in for several years. In all these areas he has explored several thousand miles of old dirt roads and trails, as well as many old mines and ghost towns. Located in the Mohave Desert of AZ in the winter and the Madison River Valley of MT in the summer.
For individual use only, not to be shared.