Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area
Guide

Introduction

Featuring rolling hills of Douglas fir and lodgepoles, as well as lush meadows and dense forests sitting within granitic spires, Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area (WSA) offers a premier setting for memorable outdoor recreation and primitive camping experiences. This 17.5 square mile Bureau of Land Management property located 26 miles south of Butte, Montana, and easily accessed by vehicles, is a popular destination among vacationers in the region.

Recreational opportunities at this park range from hiking, backpacking and horseback riding adventures through the wilderness, to flora observation, wildlife and bird watching, nature study and observation, as well as fishing. Another popular activity here is rock climbing. Other ways to stay active are photography, hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Nearby at Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, more recreation opportunities abound.

There are no services or facilities provided for developed camping within this wilderness study area, so only dry camping opportunities are available to guests. However, five miles west of the park, a campground with modern facilities is available. Additional camping options are provided at Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.

RV Rentals in Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area

Transportation

Driving

Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area lies 26 miles south of Butte, along the western foothills of Highland Mountains, Montana. Access to this Bureau of Land Management property is off Interstate 15. If you are driving to the park, take the Moose Creek (Exit 99) interchange on the Interstate and travel east along the creek for three miles to the trailhead parking lot at the wilderness boundary. Note that the creek road is an unimproved gravel road, so four-wheel-drive vehicles are the best for the route.

The use of motorized vehicles and mechanical equipment is prohibited within the boundaries of Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area. So, on your way to the wilderness, look out for parking areas provided so that you can park your vehicles. The trailhead parking lot is hard to miss and is the commonly used space by guests. The rest of your journey within the wilderness will be on foot or on the back of your horse. Wheelchairs are allowed.

There are no direct public transportation services to Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area.

If you wish to get developed camping equipment such as RVs, fifth wheels, and trailers, you will find rental services at Butte, Beaverhead County, and Deer Lodge.

Parking

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area

Campsites in Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area

First-come first-served

Divide Bridge Campground

Divide Bridge Campground is a pet-friendly campground located 5 miles west of Humbug Spires WSA. This campground accepts tents and RVs and is open all year to campers of all ages. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are 24 campsites in this campground, 10 of which are tent-only campsites. Amenities available include picnic tables and fire grills, potable water, toilets, a boat ramp, and picnic area. An information kiosk is also provided.

Maximum RV length that can be accommodated in the campground is 25 feet.

Seasonal activities in Humbug Spires Wilderness Study Area

Off-Season

Geology

One of the things that will greet visitors at Humbug Spires WSA as soon as they arrive is the spectacular nature of the quartz monzonite outcrops that are prevalent in the wilderness. This BLM park has 50 spires, with nine that rise from 300 feet to 600 feet above the surrounding areas. These geological features were formed by a combination of magmatic, plutonic and erosive actions that have left the formations that guests can now see.

Wildlife/Bird Viewing

At Humbug Spires WSA, there are diverse wildlife habitats such as dense forests, meadows and riparian drainage bottoms, sagebrush and grass, all of which support the presence of various wildlife species. Mule deer and moose are particularly plentiful in the area. A few elk live in the park and prefer the forest areas. Predators in the wilderness are black bear, cougar, wolf, foxes, and coyotes.

Birds that are commonly sighted in the area include golden eagles, hawks, falcons, and small songbirds.

Fishing

As soon as you arrive at Humbug Spires WSA, you can set out to fish on Moose Creek if you are with your fishing pole, tackle, and gear. Good opportunities to catch brook trout, rainbow trout, and cutthroat trout are available in the lower reaches of the creek. These trout are separated from cutthroat, which are prevalent in the upper reaches of the creek, by steep waterfalls.

Most of the fish in the creek are small, rarely exceeding 10 inches, so the fun is in the sport itself, and not the size of the catch.

In-Season

Flora

Three dominant vegetation types are present in the Humbug Spires WSA. The outer areas are composed of bunchgrasses and sagebrush with scattered young trees, while the central steep parts of the wilderness are made up of mature stands of Douglas fir and lodgepole pine.

Dogwood, willows, aspen and lush grasses feature in the riparian areas along Moose Creek and its tributaries, as well as the South Fork of Tucker Creek, Pine Gulch, Lime and Selway Gulches, and MacLean Creek.

Hiking

Guests at Humbug Spires WSA can enjoy day hiking trips and backpacking exercises through the wilderness areas. The Humbug Spires Wilderness Trail is a 3.5-mile-long out-and-back trail that offers hikers the chance to see wildlife. This trail has a moderate hiking difficulty, so it’s a good place to test your skills and endurance. The best time to hike on the trail is between May and October, and feel free to come along with your dog.

If you’re going to hike through the wilderness, ensure you carry enough water, a compass, and a copy of the site map.

Rock Climbing

Anyone who visits Humbug Spires WSA and is skilled in the art is tempted to engage in rock climbing in the park. Thanks to the exposure of the spires to weather, their walls are smooth and so can be difficult to climb. So, you are only advised to climb on the rocks if you are experienced and have appropriate gear.

What’s good about the park, however, is that rock climbing beginners can also find spots to challenge themselves.