About the Watershed

The Ruby Watershed is a large (622,974 acres) rural valley containing primarily traditional agricultural operations combined with a few small communities and an active recreational tourism industry. The Ruby River begins high in the Snowcrest and Gravelly mountains in southwest Montana and flows north through the valley until it joins the Beaverhead and Big Hole Rivers creating the headwaters of the Jefferson River. The Jefferson River then joins with the Madison and Gallatin Rivers thereby creating the Missouri River. The Ruby is the common thread that ties the land, the communities, the people and the resources together. It is the lifeblood of the valley. Protection of the river, its banks, its tributaries, and all of the surrounding habitat are critical to maintaining the beauty and sustainability of the entire watershed.

Facts about Our Watershed:

  • Size = 973.3 square miles, 622,974 acres
  • Elevation = 4,630 feet at confluence of Ruby and Beaverhead Rivers, 10,655 feet at Hogback Mountain
  • Ruby River Average Slope = 13 feet/mile or .2%
  • Average Annual Precipitation = 9” at Twin Bridges, 30” in the Gravelly/Snowcrest complexes, 50” in the Tobacco Root Mountains
  • Snowmelt Runoff = mid-May to mid-June (720 cfs ave)
  • Ave Base flow above Reservoir = 150 cfs
  • Land Cover Types = forest, grassland, sage/scrub, marshlands, riverine, sub-alpine mountain, alluvial formations
  • Ownership = 50.5% Federal, 11% State, 38.5% Private