Conservation Lands Closures
2020 Update: Jumbo South Zone Opens March 21
Trespassing during the wildlife closure is prohibited by law and violators may be fined up to $500. Please call 911 to report trespassers.
Parks and Recreation, in consultation with Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, will open Mount Jumbo’s South Zone to the public on Saturday, March 21, 2020. The south zone includes all points south of the Saddle Road.
Conservation Lands Manager Morgan Valliant says that mild weather has prompted Mount Jumbo’s elk herd to move further north on the mountain, allowing the Department to open the South Zone earlier than expected. A few elk may be lingering in the South Zone, and dog owners are required to leash their pets when in the vicinity of the herd.
Valliant reminds open space visitors it is against state law to allow dogs to chase or harass wildlife. "The elk winter range on Mount Jumbo is one of the primary reasons Missoulians decided to preserve the mountain as open space, and the herd is a unique and valuable natural resource. Dog owners have a responsibility to help protect that resource by controlling their pets," he added.
Mount Jumbo’s North Zone (all points north of the Saddle Road) will remain closed until May 1 or later. The Saddle Road bisects Mount Jumbo’s conservation lands and can be reached at the north end of Lincoln Hills Drive. Law enforcement can cite those who violate the winter closure for trespassing, resulting in fines and penalties. Residents are asked to help protect wildlife by calling 911 to report closure violations.
Mount Jumbo Winter Wildlife Closure Schedule
- 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.
- 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.
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 are also open all year.
Each winter brings 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.
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.