The Pryors Coalition’s Vision

Many of the groups and individuals which eventually became “The Pryors Coalition” have been enjoying, studying, and working to protect the Pryors for many years.  Beginning in 2003 a major emphasis of the group became the pending Custer National Forest Travel Plan revision.  We began to focus on the USFS part of the Pryors and on developing a balanced Vision for its management.  Although our Vision described below emphasizes USFS managed land, the guiding principles apply to the entire Pryors.

Summary of Pryors Coalition Vision»

Vision Map

Pryors Coalition’s full Vision statement This document was drafted in 2007 and has not been updated to reflect subsequent events and new information.  Some details might be revised, but the basic document remains valid.

Respecting the land — and everyone’s right to enjoy it

The Pryor Mountains are a big part of what makes life in Montana special.  They belong to all of us.

The Pryors Coalition Vision Map

The Pryors Coalition Vision Map. Click to enlarge.

The Pryors Coalition seeks

  • to provide diverse recreational opportunities in the Pryor Mountains for our diverse and growing population
  • to conserve the natural resources of this spectacular landscape
  • to pass them on for future generations to enjoy

Our vision balances abundant vehicular access with five enclaves for conservation and quiet recreation.  The map shows more than 75 miles of Motor Travel Routes on the (green) USFS land, and the five non-motorized areas: two (Punch Bowl and Lost Water Canyon) on East Pryor Mountain, and three on Big Pryor Mountain (Big Pryor North, Bear Canyon, and Southwest Slope).

Vehicle Damage on Inferno Canyon Road

Vehicle Damage on Inferno Canyon Road (photo by Margaret Webster). Click to enlarge.

Travel Routes

The future of the Pryor’s landscape, water, wildlife and solitude — and the public’s ability to enjoy them — depends on a fair, sensible, and enforceable network of access roads.  If the present trend of abuse continues, everyone who uses the Pryors will lose.  The Pryor Coalition’s Vision includes a strategically placed network of more than 75 miles of motorized routes crisscrossing the 78,000-acre part of Montana’s Pryor Mountains administered by the Forest Service.  These routes would guarantee that the children and grandchildren of today’s visitors will be privileged to see the same magnificent vistas and enjoy the natural world as we do today.

These identified routes will

  • Provide for motorized recreation on historically popular routes, including loop trips
  • Provide appropriate access for all visitors to the Pryors’ full variety of landscapes, scenery and ecological systems
  • Assure the long-term sustainability of motorized recreation in the Pryors.
  • Helt Road (Photo by Grant Barnard)

    Helt Road (Photo by Grant Barnard). Click to enlarge.

  • Serve the public need for walk-in hunting, camping, bird watching, horseback riding, and other quiet recreation
  • Allow the Forest Service to effectively maintain roads and enforce the law
  • Reduce conflicts and encourage cooperation between user groups and between the public and the Forest Service

Hiking, Riding, and Resource Conservation Areas

The five non-motorized areas we envision will provide for traditional, quiet pursuits — hunting, horseback riding, hiking, bird watching, and others — as well as protect fragile and valuable resources that belong to all of us.  These areas guarantee that people will continue to find the peace and solitude the Pryors have always provided.   Our plan helps ensure fair distribution of recreational opportunities.  It is a balanced solution most people can get behind.

These areas will

A Ride in the Bear Canyon Area

A Ride in the Bear Canyon Area (photo by Ron Nusbaum). Click to enlarge.

  • Provide opportunity for walk-in hunting, hiking, and horseback riding
  • Satisfy the demand by for quiet recreation as our community grows
  • Secure habitat for both game species and rare and sensitive plants and animals
  • Keep areas free of noxious weed infestation
  • Protect rock art, artifacts, and historical and cultural sites
  • Protect important scientific values and research opportunities

Hiking in the Pryors (photo by Margaret Webster). Click to enlarge.


The Pryor Mountains are a truly unique place that belongs to all of us.  While there should be ample space for all folks to enjoy the Pryors, poorly managed, skyrocketing motorized use of this fragile land threatens the very things that make it special.

While our vision may not satisfy the extremes at either end of the spectrum, our plan is a balance that respects all users and reduces conflict between motorized recreation and traditional, quiet uses of the land.  Everyone would benefit from making such a vision reality.  Please join us.