Ryegate is located between sandstone, rimrock cliffs and the Musselshell River on Highway 12 and is the county seat for Golden Valley County. The townsite of Ryegate was originally a part of the Sims-Garfield ranch; it was the rye field of Mr. Sims that inspired the name. (from Cheney's Names on the Face of Montana, Mountain Press Publishing Company) Ryegate is the location where the Nez Perce people, under the leadership of Chief Joseph, crossed the Musselshell River on September 17, 1877. They had left their Idaho homeland in a valiant but futile effort to reach Canada. Today, Ryegate is a farming and ranching community.The State Recreation Area of Deadman's Basin, a few miles west of Ryegate offers camping, fishing boating and swimming. South of Ryegate is Hailstone National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Big Lake Complex, a large drainage area beginning with Hailstone to the north and ending at Big Lake to the south. This area is one of the most productive areas in central Montana for waterfowl. The refuge includes a large alkaline lake and surrounding habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, pronghorns, and prairie dogs. Public use of the refuge is limited to bird watching and hiking, as it is intended as a sanctuary wildlife. Walk-in access is through the north boundary.