Snow geese, Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, Rocky Mountain Front, north of Choteau, MT.

Snow geese, Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area, Rocky Mountain Front, north of Choteau, MT.
Photo © tonybynum.com

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Comments and Ratings

Missing from State signs was any mention of Freezeout Lake WMA!
Once we were out of Fairfield headed towards Choteau there were no signs indication the staying along 89 was the best first choice. There were no signs immediately out of Fairfield on the first left! Once we found a sign it was tiny. Best viewing suggestions would be most helpful.
That said, on March 24 and 25 we were enchanted by the thousands of snow geese!

Submitted by Carolyn Hopper (03/27/2013)

I was at Freezeout last weekend (March 28-29, 2009) and there were untold thousands of snow geese, ducks, swans and even a few sandhill cranes. Spring is late this year and the lake was mostly frozen ... but the migration must go on.

Submitted by Terry Sands (04/07/2009)

Based on this article, we drove to Freezeout Lake on Monday, April 6, 2009, from our home in near West Glacier, MT. It was a fabulous day trip, well worth the drive. The lake was still partially frozen, but there were thousands of birds. We noted trumpeter swans, northern shovelers, goldeneyes, and snow geese in abundance. A wonderful adventure!

Submitted by Debra Moss (04/07/2009)

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Contacts

Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks

Freezout aflutter as flocks of snow geese return

Great Falls Tribune

Freezeout Lake Wildlife Management Area
LAT: 47.6835
LON: -112.0441
Elevation: 3773 FT (1150 M)
Overview of this Wildlife Watching Landscape

Birds by the hundreds of thousands and humans by the handful congregate at Freezeout Lake to celebrate early spring. It's a wildlife viewing spectacle that for a few days rivals any natural wonder in the world.

Tundra swans, snow geese, and 200 other migrating species start in mid-March to use the lake as a staging point, while they wait for nature’s traffic control system to indicate that their far northern destinations are open for feeding and breeding.

The window of opportunity for snow geese to pass through the Freezeout Lake neighborhood is relatively short - about two weeks - as they're drawn northward from the California coast. Birdwatchers are wise to set their spring travel calendar to witness the successive waves of snow geese, identifiable by their black-tipped white wings, arriving in huge squadrons.

Type of Wildlife Often Seen

Ducks, herons, shorebirds, swans, and countless snow geese congregate at Freezeout Lake each spring, creating one of the nation’s most spectacular bird-watching opportunities. Owned and managed by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, the 11,350-acre WMA attracts more than a million birds each year, from stately tundra swans to tiny Tennessee warblers.

“We’ve documented more than 200 different species using the area,” says Mark Schlepp, WMA manager. Every spring, tens of thousands of snow geese appear at the Freezeout Lake WMA, located between the towns of Fairfield and Choteau, along U.S. 89. Typically snow geese migration peaks the end of March. Some years, winter weather farther north can bottle up the birds temporarily at Freezout, leading to numbers up to 300,000.

You may encounter an alternate spelling, "Freezout" instead of "Freezeout." To bird lovers, either way is acceptable. ,

The snow geese usually begin to reach Freezeout in early March, where they rest up from a nearly 1,000 mile flight from California. Best viewing of the birds is from sunrise to 10:00am and from 4:30pm until sunset. Binoculars, telescopes, a light lunch, and possibly warm clothing will make your viewing more enjoyable.

In April, the snow geese head for Alberta and central Saskatchewan in Canada. There they mass with hundreds of thousands of other snow geese from Texas and other Gulf Coast States. In a series of shorter flights, the geese then make their way to nesting grounds on the wind swept, extreme northwest Arctic coast of Canada.

Best Times of the Day for Viewing

Early morning as the birds lift-off by the tens of thousands to feed in nearby harvested grain fields

Best Seasons and Months for Viewing

Mid March and April

Places and Pointers for Viewing

There are various dirt roads and trails near the lake, which may be muddy in the spring. Nearby county roads also can provide great views of swarms lifting off the lake to feed in nearby fields.

Driving Directions

Freezeout Lake is located 40 miles west of Great Falls along US Highway 89 between Fairfield and Choteau. Access the area from US Highway 89, or Frontage Road from Fairfield, to various turnouts and parking areas year-round.