Conservation Lands Closures

August 2022
Sheep Grazing on North Hills and Mount Jumbo - some areas temporarily closed to dogs

Current closure notices and maps

  • Over 800 sheep are grazing to control noxious weeds on City open space.
  • Grazing areas are temporarily closed to dogs while sheep are present.
  • The closure protects both sheep and pets.
  • Trails in the North Hills and Sunlight are now reopened to dogs. Jumbo South Zone reopens to dogs August 6.
  • The Waterworks trailhead remains closed for construction but should re-open by mid-August. 
  • Missoula Animal Control will help enforce the closures. Call 911 to report violators.

The City of Missoula’s wooliest employees are back this summer to help with noxious weed control on City Open Space. Limited areas on the North Hills and Mount Jumbo will be temporarily closed to dogs starting June 20 as about 800 sheep graze on invasive species like dalmatian toadflax, leafy spurge, and spotted knapweed. Hiking without pets is permitted during dog closures; visit trailheads and for closure maps and more information.

Targeted grazing is a low-cost, effective way to control weeds and helps reduce reliance on chemical herbicides on City open space, says Conservation Lands Manager Jeff Gicklhorn. Grazing areas are completely closed to dogs this year because of the size of the sheep herd and the risks to both sheep and domestic dogs.

 “At over 800 head, this by far the largest grazing project the City has ever undertaken,” says Conservation Lands Manager Jeff Gicklhorn. “In the past, we’ve had maybe 100-200 sheep on open space lands. With a herd this large, the potential for injury to both sheep and domestic dogs increases exponentially. No matter how well a dog is trained, his instinct to chase could put both him and the sheep in danger. In addition, livestock guardian dogs are not friendly toward other dogs or humans. They are trained to attack predators and can severely injure or kill a domestic dog.” Gicklhorn reminds hikers to avoid the sheep and their canine protectors during the dog closures.

Gicklhorn encourages residents to comply with the dog closures to keep their pets and the sheep safe. “The grazing program is a cost-effective, sustainable way to control noxious weeds on conservation lands and encourage the beneficial and beautiful wildflowers and native grasses we all enjoy. By working together, residents, pet owners and land managers can save money, preserve the natural landscape, and reduce the need for chemical herbicides,” he says. Residents can call 911 to report closure violations and are encouraged to note vehicle license plates of violators if possible.

The project is funded by the 2018 Conservation Lands Mill Levy. Maps and closure notices will be posted here and at trailheads. To receive email updates, join the Parks and Recreation News Flash email list at Notify Me • City of Missoula • CivicEngage.

Mount Jumbo Winter Wildlife Closure

South Zone

North Zone

The South Zone is open.
North Zone is open.

  • The North Zone, from the Saddle Trail to the north, is closed annually from December 1 until May 1*
  • The South Zone, from the Saddle Trail above Lincoln Hills Dr. and south to I-90, is closed annually December 1 to March 15*
  • *Closure dates may vary due to weather conditions and wildlife protection requirements.
  • Trespassing during the wildlife closure is prohibited by law and violators may be fined up to $500.
  • Under certain conditions, Mount Jumbo can become an avalanche zone. Trespassers risk their own safety and the safety of others. Watch this site for avalanche updates.
  •  Please call 911 to report trespass violations.  If possible, please provide a description of the person and/or his vehicle and license plate number.  
  • Closure Map (PDF)

Dogs must be under strict voice and sight control on Mount Jumbo and leashed where posted. Pet owners are asked to respect conservation lands, adjacent private property, other park visitors and wildlife by controlling their dogs at all times and removing their pet’s waste. Pet owners may not allow their dogs to chase, attack or harass wildlife or livestock on City open space. Free Mutt Mitts and loaner leashes are provided at trailheads.

All-Year Trails

Several trails on Mount Jumbo are open all year, including the U.S. West road above I-90 and the L trail, both of which are accessible at the Cherry Street trailhead. Dogs must be leashed on the L trail and during the winter closure. The road linking Upper Lincoln Hills Drive with Tamarack St. and the 40 acres below the road is also open all year. These trails may be closed if avalanche conditions are present. Watch this site for updates.

Elk Population

Each winter brings Mount Jumbo’s own special elk herd back to its traditional winter range. When winter snows deplete forage at higher elevations, about 75 elk move to lower elevations on the slopes of Mt. Jumbo to feed. To help increase the elk herd’s chance for winter survival, citizens, staff and wildlife biologists have agreed to institute seasonal closures of critical areas of the mountain to all recreational use. Help track the elk on their winter range: Jumbo Elk Spotters Program

Other Wildlife Protection Closures

Conservation lands may be closed to protect wildlife as needed, especially during the winter months. Sign up for email alerts of Conservation Lands closures.

Fire Closures

During fire season, conservation lands may be closed to protect citizens from wildfire. Wildfire can happen in the blink of an eye and if you’re caught on a grassy, sun-drenched slope, such as Mount Sentinel, Mount Jumbo, or the North Hills when a fire starts, you can be in extreme danger. Wildfires, especially when wind-driven, can move at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

The City of Missoula wants citizens to recreate safely in summer and fall. During fire season, western Montana’s vegetation, from grass to trees, is likely drought-stressed and tinder dry. Consequently, along with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the U.S. Forest Service, the city may temporarily close a few popular open space sites as a public safety precaution. Citizens will be notified by press release, website postings, and email alerts.

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