Montane Forest

  • Dipper

    Photograph by Bob Martinka

  • Pygmy Owl

    Photograph by Bob O'Leary

  • Pileated Woodpecker

    Photograph by Bob O'Leary

  • Clark's Nutcracker

    Photograph by Bob O'Leary

  • Western Tanager

    Photograph by Bob Martinka

  • Mountain Chickadee

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

  • Ruffed Grouse

    Photograph by Bob O'Leary

  • Black Bear

    Photograph by Rob Seifert

  • Mountain Goat

    Photograph by Travel Montana

  • Yellow Pine Chipmunk

    Photograph by Steve Carson

  • Elk

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

  • Bighorn Sheep

    Photograph by Bernie Smith

  • Moose

    Photograph by Rob Seifert

  • Snowshoe Hare

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

  • Pika

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois



The montane forest ecosystem represents the mountains of Montana that have been formed by tectonic uplift and glacial erosion. These high elevation areas occur along the western third of the state and encompass mountains from their base to their summit with elevations increasing from the north where the Kootenai River flows into Idaho (1,800') southward to the snow capped peaks in the Beartooth Range (12,800') adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. Vast coniferous forest complexes of larch, fir, hemlock, pine, and spruce trees characterize these areas that protect the headwater mountain streams of Montana’s rivers. Much of this ecosystem is in public ownership through the United States Forest Service (USFS). 

Discover Montane Forest

Fish & Wildlife

The montane forest is home to a variety of wildlife species. Some of these animals are year round residents like the snowshoe hare, while others are seasonal visitors such as the Lewis' woodpecker that migrates south for the winter. Wildlife species listed on this page were selected because of their adaptations that help them survive in a forested mountain environment.

Go See Montane Forest Fish & Wildlife


This ecosystem is dominated by closed canopy conifer forests. This type of vegetation generally does not grow unless there is at least 20" of moisture.

Go See Montane Forest Vegetation
Montane Forest areas of Montana

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Montane Forest Statistics

Montane Forest:

26% of the state


Averages 37 inches, mostly deposited in the winter


Typically acidic


Mostly steep slopes, some more than 45°.

Elevation ranges from 1800' (lowest point in the state) to 12,800' (highest point in the state)

For more details see the CFWCS