Ruby Mountain Special Management Recreation Area (SMRA) is a Bureau of Land Management park uniquely sited in a location that is the perfect base for outdoor recreation and exploration to fantastic sites in southwest Montana. Located between Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and Custer Gallatin National Forest, this BLM park can be easily accessed via paved roads from Virginia City and Alder, as well as off US Highway 287 from Ennis, Montana. Feel free to drive your vehicle to the park as parking spaces are available.
From Ruby Mountain SMRA, you can set out to enjoy lots of fun opportunities available in the region. You may wish to begin at Ruby Reservoir where you could partake in exciting boating and fishing exercises. If you’ve got your hiking boots or horse, nothing stops you from strolling and riding on the trails provided at any of the surrounding National Forests. Winter is particularly a great time to visit because wonderful snowmobiling, snowboarding and skiing opportunities abound on the slopes here. If you are a nature lover, you will also find scenic landscapes, picturesque vegetation as well as beautiful fauna in the area.
Primitive to developed camping sites are available nearby for visitors to stay overnight.
Ruby Mountain Special Management Recreation Area lies about 20 miles southwest of Ennis in Montana. This Bureau of Land Management area can be accessed from Ennis from a number of places off US Highway 287.
If you’re coming in from Virginia City, you’ll be able to get to the park using Barton Gulch Road, a paved road that connects to the eastern end of the area. From Alder, access to the SMRA is via Upper Ruby Road, equally paved, and offering easy accessibility. Not all access routes to the park are paved, so you may consider checking before you leave so that you will have the appropriate vehicle for the road. Davy Creek Road is one of those unpaved roads you should look out for.
Parking spaces are available for RVs, trailers, and other vehicles in this SMRA, and you won’t have any difficulty locating one here. Ensure you park only in designated spaces though.
There are no public bus services to this BLM park, and neither are there other public transportation facilities. The closest service is at Virginia City – a railroad.
Ruby Creek Campground is a BLM campground that sits on the Madison River, southeast of Ruby Mountain SMRA. The campground is open to all campers, all year, and consists of 22 campsites that accommodates tents.
Amenities provided in this campground include potable water, vault toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, and a boat ramp on the willow-lined river. Because no trash receptacle is provided, you are required to pack out what you pack in. A parking area is available near the campground.
Recreational opportunities available in this campground include boating, fishing, and hiking.
Reservations are not accepted for campsites here.
Hiking and cycling trails are available in the area for those that wish to exercise their muscles and enjoy scenic views in the process.
In addition, horseback riding opportunities are available at the nearby Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for equestrians spending time at Ruby Mountain SMRA. Moreover, horse camping options are provided too. If you are with your horse, you will find lots of equestrian trailheads with hitching posts and loading ramps on the Pioneer Scenic Byway.
If you are equipped with the appropriate license and permit, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest is open for your hunting escapades. This National Forest is particularly famous for big game hunting opportunities as enthusiasts go after wildlife such as elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, and black bear. Antelopes, mountain goats, and bighorn sheep are also huntable game in the forest.
By far the most sought-after game by hunters in the National Forest is elk, so this area is highly used by elk hunters in the state.
Ruby Reservoir was initially developed as a source of irrigation for ranches, so there are frequent fluctuations in its depths. However, it has now become popular for recreational activities such as fishing and boating, as well as opportunities for camping.
Boat access is provided to the reservoir for boaters who wish to explore the waters. When the water level permits, good trout fishing opportunities are also available. Feel free to come along with your pets too.
Montana is a wonderland in winter, and this BLM area and its surroundings are no exception. The scenic mountains in the area are particularly attractive to winter recreation enthusiasts. The snow on the slopes in the area is perfect for snowmobilers, snowboarders and skiers to do what makes them happy.
A note of caution on the slopes as there are parts that hold hidden dangers. Avalanche is a potential safety threat so carry proper backcountry equipment such as an avalanche beacon, probe, and shovel. The Forest Service Avalanche Awareness can be of great help.
Virtually every mountaineering enthusiast and hiker at Ruby Mountain SMRA visits Baldy Mountain. This mountain, which lies in the Bridger Range, has a summit register and metal pole that’s supposed to be the summit marker, in a position that’s not the mountain summit. So, if you arrive at this register, you still have about a mile to go before you get to the top. Interesting, right?
You won’t miss the beautiful forested areas that offer panoramic views as you stroll to the top of this mountain.
The Ruby Range is a series of dry mountains with steep terrain and few springs. Interestingly though, the forest cover in the range is extensive, featuring lodgepole pine, Douglas-fir, and spruce, all of which attract flora enthusiasts to enjoy adventures through its corridors. The highest slopes in the range feature large stands of pure limber pine.
Wildlife viewers will get to see a large mule deer herd, a few elk, and a blue grouse habitat here. Be sure to spot the caves, rock walls, cliffs, and talus in this range too.