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Woodbine Falls, Montana

Located in the region of Nye in Montana’s Stillwater County, the Woodbine Falls are one of the longest and most impressive falls in the entire state.

A bold claim that nevertheless seems, even more, the case when you consider that the majority of the other well-known and iconic Montana falls are within the boundaries of Glacier National Park.

The fact that this remote waterfall is in a much less-visited part of Montana means there is a distinctly more tranquil vibe to it than you might be likely to find among the crowds in the national park.

The falls are among the tallest in the state and are incredibly scenic with a drop that is somewhere close to 280 feet. Needless to say, that makes for some impressive photography opportunities.

The fact that the Woodbine Falls are located within the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness does no harm whatsoever to the surrounding landscape and scenery. In fact, it makes them even more appealing to many adventurous outdoor explorers.

You can get to the falls from the intersection of Highway 212 (and MT-78 in Red Lodge), heading northwest on MT-78 for around 30 miles. After that, there is a left turn heading west which leads onto the paved MT-419 and through the town of Fishtail.

Continue on and through Nye, past the Stillwater Mine for almost 30 miles before eventually turning left and following signs for either the campground or the trailhead.

Hiking to the Woodbine Falls

hiking to the woodbine falls
Image: Trevor Manternach

Visitors can hike up to the falls along a designated trail that totals just over a 1.5-mile round trip in all. Elevation gains aren’t too harsh and about the same as the overall height of the falls.

Depending on your overall pace, this wander up to the falls and back could take as little as an hour. For the average person though it is probably more likely in the region of 1.5-2 hours.

The trailhead starts out in the Woodbine Campground and is a well-signposted, not to mention a well-worn route. Initially, the route leads through a wooded area that starts to ascend gradually. It covers woodland-type terrain and includes a bridge that traverses the rushing Woodbine Creek.

The trail then continues its upward ascent towards a lookout point with some impressive views. There is actually a designated lookout point but there are also a few other decent ones aside from that.

The falls can be seen pretty clearly from all vantage points, as can the surrounding mountain scenery including the distant Beartooth Mountains.

This is the region of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness which the trail leads into, meaning sections of densely wooded areas and distant craggy terrain.

When you reach the lookout points you might find the ‘unofficial’ overlooks yield slightly less obstructed views than the designated viewpoint does.

The different levels of the falls can be observed from various positions, and it is certainly worth checking out this glorious natural wonder from various points.

Woodbine Creek

woodbine creek
Image: Trevor Manternach

The falls flow out of the crashing Woodbine Creek, which is fed by snowmelt from the Stillwater Plateau.

The rushing waters from the creek cascade down the rocky and steep drops from elevations of around 5000 feet, adding maximum effect to the falls. The creek is within reach of both the falls and the campground nearby.

Fishing near the Creek

The parking lot for the trailhead and the campground are both in areas set right along the Stillwater River.

This is a fairly renowned spot for trout fishing and home to rainbow, brown, and cutthroat trout. Fishing here is permitted with a valid state (or out-of-state) fishing license.

Staying at Woodbine Campground

Woodbine Campground is as remote as the falls and is adjacent to the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness.

Nye is just 7 miles to the north of the campground, and anyone traveling the region might note that Yellowstone National Park is accessible from here in around 3 hours along the scenic Beartooth Highway.

The campground is a short walk from the Woodbine Falls Trail and is a paved facility with 44 camp sites. It is close to Stillwater River Road with access to the Old Nye Picnic Ground and fishing.

RVs up to 40 feet in length are catered to and reservations are accepted any time between 6 months and 24 hours in advance.

This is Beartooth Ranger District campground with a 16-day maximum on stays. Amenities include toilets and a bear-resistant dumpster as well as seasonal firewood.

This is a popular and busy campground that tends to fill up quickly during peak months.

The Bottom Line

The Woodbine Falls and their surrounding environment make for an impressive and scenic outdoor experience.

This is undoubtedly one of the best waterfalls in Montana due to its sheer height if nothing else. It also happens to be located in an area with some impressive wild and natural terrain and lots of stunning scenery to enjoy.

On top of that, Woodbine Falls is definitely one of the most family-friendly waterfall outings. The hike up to the viewpoint is short enough for most kids and there are various walls and barriers in place at key points along the way.

The remoteness of the falls means much more likelihood of solitude or privacy than you would find in the more obvious tourist areas of the state.

Anyone who loves the outdoors should experience the grandeur of these falls if they find themselves anywhere near their vicinity on a trip to the Treasure State.

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