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Register Now for Spring and Summer Offerings > Special Events & Offerings > Centennial Valley

Centennial Valley   

Learn about the ecosystems and working ranches in this remote, near-pristine, high-elevation valley in SW Montana. 


Tuesday, June 25 – Friday, June 28
Taft-Nicholson Center
27700 S Valley Rd
Lima, MT
MAP
Nestled on the edge of the Continental Divide, the Centennial Valley's 60+ miles of unpaved roads traverse a vast array of forest, sagebrush steppe, grasslands and the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. It is also here that we encounter the uppermost point of the Missouri/Mississippi watershed, 3,768 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. 

This trip is designed for those who want a robust overview of important natural and cultural aspects of the Centennial Valley. Participants will learn about and meet some of the people who live on and manage this area, among them cattle ranchers, the Centennial Valley Association's Range Riders, managers of non-profit organizations such as the Montana Nature Conservancy and the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. 

Trip programs will range from lectures with interactive discussions to experiential outdoor learning. Members of MOLLI are welcome to register. 


Trip Guide & Instructor
A person wearing a green hat and glasses  Description automatically generated,
Instructor Bill West has three decades of experience managing national wildlife refuges in Montana, including the National Bison Range and the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. His skills include partnership building for conservation of fish and wildlife, good neighbor/landowner relationships, wild bison management, sustainable agriculture, negotiations with tribal governments, trumpeter swan management and most recently, grizzly bear and arctic grayling recovery and management. Bill will share his immense knowledge of and passion for the Centennial Valley with our travel group.


Meals and Lodging
Meals and lodging are provided by the University of Utah's Taft-Nicholson Center, a remote campus offering environmental humanities education to educational institutions and non-profits. The Taft-Nicholson Center is not open to the public. 
Learn more about the Taft-Nicholson Center by clicking on the link below:
Taft-Nicholson Center


Costs
Costs include two nights' lodging and seven meals per person (two breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners), as well as facility, programming and staff fees.
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Option #1 | Dorm - $425 This option/rate includes lodging in the Taft-Nicholson Center Dorm for 2 nights and seven meals. This option is ideal for solo travelers or a travel group that includes 3+ people. Each person will need to register separately.
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Option #2 | Cabin - $900 This option/rate includes lodging for two people in a Rustic Cabin for 2 nights and fourteen meals (seven meals/person). This option is ideal for those traveling with a friend or partner. Rustic Cabins are one room only. You must include a second traveler as your guest if you choose this lodging option. 


Transportation
Participants will arrange their own transportation to and from the Taft-Nicholson Center, arriving by 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2024. Detailed directions to the Taft-Nicholson Center will be sent to participants a few weeks before departure. While within the Centennial Valley, we will vehicle-pool when possible in order to lessen our collective footprint.
Important things to note about travel in the Centennial Valley:

  • There are no gas stations.
  • There is little-to-no cell phone coverage, although WiFi is available at the Taft-Nicholson Center.
  • The nearest medical facility is over 55 gravel-road miles away. The Taft-Nicholson Center provides certified Wilderness First Aid when needed.

The main road through the Valley, the South Valley Road, runs east-west for 56 miles. It is a county-maintained gravel road. Depending on weather conditions, it can be challenging to drive. This is characteristic of all other roads in the Valley.
To lessen the chance of a flat tire while driving on Valley roads, light trucks and heavier SUVs are strongly recommended. Make sure you have a good spare tire in your vehicle and, most importantly, drive slowly — about 30 mph.
Centennial Valley Travel Information
Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
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Activity Level
This trip will include low-to-moderate levels of walking (up to one mile/day), sometimes on uneven terrain. Individual and small-group opportunities for more walking are available. 


Itinerary
Instructor Bill West may modify the schedule outlined below depending on changing circumstances in the Valley, including inclement weather and new opportunities.
Pre-night | Tuesday, June 25 | Overnight accommodations in Ennis the responsibility of registrants.
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Day 1 | Wednesday, June 26
Morning | Meet at S Raynolds Pass at 9:30 am; travel to Taft-Nicholson Center with a stop near Red Rock Pass for an introduction to the Valley (3.5 hours total); check-in and lunch at Taft-Nicholson Center
Afternoon | Wildlife Refuge presentations and tour; wildlife watching with instructor and staff
Evening | Dinner at Taft-Nicholson Center; instructor presentation in the Community Hall on ecology of the Valley
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Day 2 | Thursday, June 27
Morning | Breakfast at Taft-Nicholson Center, caravan to north portion of the Valley; picnic lunch at Nature Conservancy headquarters
Afternoon | Presentations on Valley ranching and cooperative projects with the Centennial Valley Association and the Montana Nature Conservancy Sandhills Preserve; travel back to Taft-Nicholson Center
Evening | Dinner at Taft-Nicholson Center; evening presentation on current Greater Yellowstone Area wildlife topics in the Centennial Valley. Q&A and discussion with the instructor to follow.
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Day 3 | Friday, June 28
Morning | Birding, hiking, and wildlife watching; breakfast at Taft-Nicholson Center; travel to the east portion of the Valley; picnic lunch near Widgeon Pond 
Afternoon | Cultural and natural history sessions on early and current Valley residents including humans, Arctic grayling, swans, moose and bears; group wildlife-watching hike


Pre-Registration opens on Thursday, February 22, 2024 and closes Sunday, March 3, 2024. Members of MOLLI are welcome to register. Space is limited to twenty travelers, so plan on registering during the pre-registration period. Following allocation, registered students will be required to complete the following forms:

  • Taft-Nicholson Center's Waiver of Liability 
  • Emergency Contact Form
  • Acknowledgement of Risk Form

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Cancellation Policy
Please read carefully:

  • If a registrant cancels on or before May 25, 2024, a refund will be issued within 60 days minus a 7.5% administrative fee. 
  • If a registrant cancels after May 25, no refunds will be issued. Registrants may, however, designate a replacement for this trip at the time of cancellation.
  • Registrants are strongly encouraged to purchase accident, baggage, and trip cancellation insurance through a travel agent or other provider. Travel insurance can help protect against financial loss in case of an emergency. 
  • If this trip fails to meet the minimum enrollment by May 25, 2024, it will be canceled and full refunds will be issued to all registrants within 60 days.

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Centennial Valley  - Option 1 - Dorm- COURSE FULL

Instructor: Bill West                                   Course Tuition: $425.00    

Schedule: Wednesday - Friday 6/26/2024 - 6/28/2024, 8:00 AM 

Location: Field Course, 

 Show Class Description

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*This course is currently full. You may choose to be added to the waitlist by clicking on the button below or by contacting the MOLLI office at 406-243-2905. You will not be charged for the class at this time and there is no guarantee that a seat will become available in the course. If an opening occurs, you will receive an email and/or phone call from the MOLLI office to finalize the registration process. Please contact the MOLLI office with any questions or concerns regarding this matter.


 

 

Centennial Valley  - Option 2 - Cabin (Must include second traveler.)- COURSE FULL

Instructor: Bill West                                   Course Tuition: $900.00    

Schedule: Wednesday - Friday 6/26/2024 - 6/28/2024, 8:00 AM 

Location: Field Course, 

 Show Class Description

 Show More

*This course is currently full. You may choose to be added to the waitlist by clicking on the button below or by contacting the MOLLI office at 406-243-2905. You will not be charged for the class at this time and there is no guarantee that a seat will become available in the course. If an opening occurs, you will receive an email and/or phone call from the MOLLI office to finalize the registration process. Please contact the MOLLI office with any questions or concerns regarding this matter.


 

 

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