Visit the Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch Site August 27 - October 31

The count occurs from a helicopter platform located atop the ridge above Bridger Bowl Ski Area, about 25 miles northeast of Bozeman, Montana. Follow Bridger Canyon Road to the entrance to Bridger Bowl Ski Area, follow the only road (it turns to dirt) past the ski lodges for about 1.5 miles to the parking area (and locked gate).  This is the trailhead and the trail takes off uphill from here. Hike to the crest of the ridge (and the top of the ski area) generally paralleling the chairlift, following the footpath or preferably the jeep road. Near the top of the ridge the jeep road ends; follow the trail for another quarter-mile to the top of the ridge. The viewing point is the concrete helipad atop the Bridger Ridge, 200′ north of the ski hut where the trail crests the ridge.  Download the site brochure and species checklist.  If you have a larger group and would like to schedule a visit contact us through the contact form on the right sidebar or through the contact info provided here.

Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch raptors checklist

Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch Trail Map - click on it to expand
Trail info:

Trailhead 12 T 507203 5073944 elevation 6549ft
Trailhead up the blue route to summit: 2 miles 1,904 ft of elevation gain
Trailhead up the green route to summit: 3 miles  1,967 ft of elevation gain
Summit elevation 8,400 ft

The blue route is the most direct, however the trail is very steep.  It is more of a route than a trail.  Expect this to be quite muddy and treacherous if it has rained or if there is snow present.  The green route is a much more mellow approach on service roads.  You still access this route by hiking up the first .3 mile to the junction, then heading north on the service road.

When to visit:

Counts are conducted daily from 09:00AM – 17:00 PM Standard Time, 7 days a week (weather permitting).  Also note that we do not observe DST.  11:00 – 14:00 is usually the peak of the days flight.  We don’t count in heavy fog or precipitation.  If you can’t see down lower on the mountain it is likely we can’t see on the ridge.  Be wary of the “Bridger Cloud” and check the webcams if precipitation is in the forecast.  Frequently it can appear clear in Bozeman and at the base of Bridger Bowl only to be clouded in along the ridge.  Weather days are utilized by the official counters as days off and they typically aren’t present in weather events.

What to bring:

           Binoculars (8x32 – 10x42)

           Bird Field Guide

           Folding chair

           Water (the ridge is dry)

           Food and snacks

           Hat and sunscreen


           Seasonal clothes (dress in layers as weather can vary throughout the season).  Also, drab colors are preferred.


           Traction devices (spikes if snow is present)

         Trekking poles

For a more in-depth discussion of how and why to dress properly for a visit to the site see here.


We do ask that you consider leaving your pets at home.  Aggressive or loud animals are a source of distraction at the count site.  Unleashed, uncontrolled animals may spook area wildlife and are generally a nuisance at a hawk count site.  Additionally, very expensive optical equipment is on site and uncontrolled animals could contribute to unforeseen accidents.  So please, do us a favor and consider leaving your pets at home. Thank you!


There are no restrooms along the ridge so plan accordingly.