Ackley Lake is nestled right in the heart of Montana’s Big Sky Country. One glimpse and you’ll easily understand how the beautiful views of the surrounding Little Belt and Snowy Mountains and rich agricultural land captured the heart of the legendary Western artist, Charlie Russell, a hundred years ago.
Anaconda Smoke Stack
The old Anaconda Copper Company smelter stack, completed in 1919, is one of the tallest free-standing brick structures in the world at 585 feet. The inside diameter is 75 feet at bottom, tapering to 60 feet at the top. In comparison, the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall.
Bannack State Park
Bannack State Park is a National Historic Landmark and the site of Montana’s first major gold discovery on July 28, 1862. This strike set off a massive gold rush that swelled Bannack’s population to over 3,000 by 1863. As the value of gold steadily dwindled, Bannack’s bustling population was slowly snuffed out. Over 50 buildings line Main Street; their historic log and frame structures recall Montana’s formative years.
Sacagawea, a young Shoshone Indian guide traveling with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, recognized this rock formation and knew that she may be in the vicinity of her relatives. The sighting gave the expedition hope that they may be able to find Native peoples from which to acquire horses for their trip across the mountains to the Pacific Ocean
Just off Interstate 90 east of Missoula, this small park offers river frontage, tipi rentals, a one-hour walking nature trail through a thick canopy of cottonwoods, and developed campsites and picnic areas. There are interpretive programs in the amphitheater on Friday evenings during the summer.
RV and tent camping, rental yurts and a nature trail are all here along the shore of magnificent Flathead Lake. Using the public ramp to launch your own boat, this site is a popular jumping-off point to Wild Horse Island. Mature ponderosa pine and juniper trees provide a beautiful setting for the campground. The beach is popular with sunbathers and swimmers, while the nature trail provides excellent birdwatching opportunities.
One of the few public parks on the shores of Hauser Lake, this popular campground provides access for boating, waterskiing, kokanee salmon and trout fishing, and other water activities. Interpretive displays describe the history of this area.
Brush Lake is a deep, clear lake with white, sandy beaches surrounded by grass fields and linear stands of spring wheat. Due to the mineral make-up of this lake, there are no fish. A day-use area is located on the northeast portion of the lake. This area includes a parking area, boat ramp and dock, vault toilet, picnic tables, fire rings and a designated swimming area.
Chief Plenty Coups
Situated within the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana, 40 minutes south of Billings, this day-use park preserves the log home, sacred spring, and farmstead of Chief Plenty Coups. Plan at least an hour to walk the grounds and browse through the visitor center that commemorates the life of this remarkable man and his efforts to lead his people in adopting the lifestyle of the white man. The tranquil, shaded picnic area is a beautiful spot to enjoy lunch and absorb the serenity of this special place.
On August 13, 1805, Clark climbed a high bluff above the Beaverhead River to get a sense of his surroundings and document the location. Unknown to Clark, Lewis had met with 60 Shoshone warriors and was working to establish a meeting at what would become Camp Fortunate. While Clark was using the lookout, Lewis was struggling to gain the trust and cooperation of the Shoshone. The longer Clark remained behind, the harder it became for Lewis to keep the tribe with him. Low on food, the Shoshones were anxious to move on and hunt.
Head to this reservoir 40 minutes south of Billings to boat, play in the water, camp, and fish. The most popular recreation area serving southcentral Montana, it’s always a busy place in the summer. The park features good walleye and rainbow trout fishing, boating opportunities, and five campgrounds around the lake. Eleven campsites with electricity are now available at Red Lodge Campground.
In 1855, on this site, Issac Stevens negotiated the Hellgate Treaty between the U. S. government and the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d’Orielle Indians to create the Flathead Reservation. The treaty was signed on this site on July 16, 1855. Come enjoy the natural features and solitude of this day-use-only park for reflection on these historical events.
During its heyday in the 1880s, the mining town of Elkhorn swelled to a population of 2,500. The boom ended in 1890 with the drop in silver prices and residents moved to other areas. They left behind two impressive structures, Fraternity Hall and Gillian Hall, which have been preserved as outstanding examples of frontier architecture. Each has been recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Located on the south end of Flathead Lake in a secluded, mature pine forest, Finley Point offers 16 campsites with water, 30-amp electrical hookups, fire ring and grills, and picnic tables. The site is disabled accessible, has vault toilets and 4 tent spaces. The park also has campfire wood, boat slips, boat mooring, and a boat sewage dump, and drinking water.
First Peoples Buffalo Jump
Formerly known as Ulm Pishkun State Park, this is one of the largest prehistoric bison kill sites in the United States. A visitor center and interpretive trails tell the story of the people, the animals, and the landscape of the buffalo culture.
This park was the site of many “firsts” in Montana history. It was home to Montana’s first Catholic church founded by Father DeSmet in 1841 and the state’s first permanent white settlement. Also located here were the first sawmill, first grist mill, first agricultural development, first water right, and the first school for settlers. Major John Owen arrived in the Bitterroot Valley in 1850 and established the fort and began trading with the Indians and growing number of immigrants. Period furnishings and artifacts are displayed in the restored rooms of the east barracks. Take your time to browse through a small museum housed in preserved and partially-reconstructed structures. This site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Interpretive signs and exhibits detail the site’s history.
Bring the whole family out for a day of picnicking, swimming, fishing, sailboarding, paddling, snorkeling, walking, or just relaxing in the fresh air with your favorite book. This small, spring-fed lake is a short drive from Missoula and easily accessible off Interstate 90. A new playground provides a safe place for youngsters to climb and slide. Sport fish include largemouth bass, black bullheads, yellow perch and pumpkin seeds. There is non-motorized boating only in this day-use-only park.
Set aside a whole afternoon to experience this scenic and historic freshwater springs site. First recorded by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, it is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world, flowing at 156 million gallons of water per day! In this day-use park, you can picnic by the Missouri River, visit the fish hatchery and visitor center, walk along the Rivers Edge Trail, view nearby Rainbow Falls overlook, or visit the neighboring Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center operated by the U.S. Forest Service.
Glacier National Park
Throughout time, people have sought out Glacier’s rugged peaks, clear waters, and glacial-carved valleys; its landscape giving both desired resources and inspiration to those persistent enough to venture through it.
Granite Ghost Town
The remnants of this once thriving 1890’s silver boomtown bear stark witness to Montana’s boom-and-bust mining history. The park preserves the Granite Mine Superintendent’s House and ruins of the old miners’ Union Hall which have been included in the Historic American Buildings Survey. This remote mining camp calls for a camera.
Greycliff Prairie Dog Town
Grab your camera and hop off Interstate 90 at Greycliff to delight in the playful, curious black-tailed prairie dogs who live here. This 98-acre park offers a unique opportunity to observe the prairie dog community in its natural environment.
You’ll reach this campground park, 25 miles north of Jordan, through the spectacular scenery of the Missouri Breaks landscape. On the Hell Creek Arm of Fort Peck Lake, this park provides facilities for most water sports as well as excellent walleye fishing. Hell Creek also serves as a launching point for boat camping in the wild and scenic Missouri Breaks.
This urban day-use park is a great place to swim, sailboard, fish, picnic, birdwatch, or take a stroll. Plan to stretch your legs on a walk around the lake or stop by the FWP Region 5 headquarters on the south shore to fish from Roger’s Pier or tour the interpretive center (weekdays from 8 to 5).Non-motorized boating only is allowed. There are two group use shelters for social events available for reserve, as well as a playground
Lake Mary Ronan
Off the beaten path just seven miles west of Flathead Lake, this park is shaded by Douglas fir and western larch. Lake Mary Ronan provides a quiet opportunity to pick huckleberries, hunt mushrooms, and spot interesting birds. Trails lead into the surrounding area which abound in wildflowers and wildlife. You can also fish, swim, and camp.
This wooded area on the east shore of Whitefish Lake provides access to cool, clear waters along a stretch of smooth cobble beach. Shaded picnic tables, great swimming, and a spot to launch canoes and kayaks all make this an ideal day-use park.
Lewis & Clark Caverns
Montana’s first and best-known state park showcases one of the most highly decorated limestone caverns in the Northwest. Naturally air conditioned, these spectacular caves, lined with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, and helictites, date back through time.
With frontage on the north shore of Middle Thompson Lake, Logan is heavily forested with western larch, Douglas-fir, and ponderosa pine. This park nestles on 17 acres adjacent to 3,000 acres of recreation opportunities within the “Thompson Chain of Lakes”, connecting and containing Upper, Middle and Lower Thompson lakes. It’s a comfortable spot for swimming, boating, camping, water-skiing, and fishing.
The overlooks at Lone Pine State Park present a dramatic view of the Flathead Valley. On a clear day, you can see Flathead Lake, Big Mountain, the Jewel Basin and Glacier National Park. A walk through the visitor center will provide information on living with wildlife in the wildland-urban interface, along with a look at wildlife and forest ecology within the park. At the park’s gift store you can find a variety of informative books on area wildlife, wildflowers and more.
These spectacular gray limestone cliffs and pink and white granite formations rise 1,200 feet above the canyon floor a short way outside Anaconda. You will enjoy a short hiking trail to Lost Creek Falls cascading over a 50-foot drop to provide one of the most popular spots in the park. If you prefer a longer hike, walk up the Forest Service trail just north of the falls parking area. The trail winds for several miles along Lost Creek through forests and meadows with great views of the surrounding mountains. Wildlife, especially mountain goats and bighorn sheep, are frequently seen on the cliffs above the park.
Madison Buffalo Jump
You’ll find this day-use-only park just seven graveled miles off Interstate 90 at the Logan exit. Take a picnic along and hike to the top of the jump for impressive views of the Madison River valley. Imagine how the area might have looked when prehistoric people “called” bison to jump to their death below the cliffs. Interpretive displays help visitors understand the dramatic events that took place here for nearly 2,000 years.
To the Sioux Indians, Ma-ko-shi-ka meant bad earth or bad land. Today, as Montana’s largest state park, the pine and juniper studded badland formations house the fossil remains of such dinosaurs as tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops. You’ll find a visitor center at the park entrance with exhibits explaining the site’s geologic, fossil, and prehistoric stories. Roads and hiking trails let you explore the park’s whimsical badlands landscape. Or try out the campground and the park’s folf (frisbee golf) course.
This 7,946-acre property, a brand new combination state park and wildlife management area, is now accessible to the public. The site includes an undeveloped 14-mile stretch of the Marias River, as well as sagebrush grassland and short grass prairie habitats in the uplands.
As the name implies, Medicine Rocks was a place of “big medicine” where Indian hunting parties conjured up magical spirits. Weathering has given the soft sandstone rock formations a Swiss-cheese look providing a unique landscape filled with greater meaning and serenity. You’ll enjoy photography, hiking, and wildlife viewing in this remote and primitive site.
The camp where Lewis and Clark stayed in 1805! This park encompasses the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin Rivers. The Lewis and Clark Expedition anticipated this important headwaters all the way up the Missouri River in 1804 and 1805.
North Shore is a recent acquisition of 160 acres of agricultural land sharing a border with Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area at the north end of Flathead Lake. The site will be managed cooperatively as a state park and wildlife management area, primarily for waterfowl and upland bird hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities. The park will have a seasonal closure each year from March 1 through July 15 while birds are nesting. Future plans include a campground.
Located in the scenic Bitterroot Mountains, this 23-acre park offers boating and water sport opportunities on the reservoir. The remote pine-forest setting is a great get-away for a weekend of camping, fishing and relaxation.
A new, sandstone-hued interpretive center rises at the foot of rimrocks where Pictograph Cave has drawn human beings for over 3,000 years. Designed for high energy efficiency, the center features a classroom, restrooms, gift shop and indoor exhibits with replicas of artifacts – such as a wooden paint applicator and a bone turtle effigy – found during a Works Progress Administration excavation.
Isolated and shaded by cottonwood trees, this Yellowstone River island offers visitors an excellent spot to view wildlife and to hunt for moss agates. Because this rich riparian area contains abundant water and plant life, it provides the perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife. The site is a haven for waterfowl, bald eagles, fox squirrels, and whitetail and mule deer.
Located in the beautiful Clearwater/ Swan River Valley, this popular campground park is known for its smooth water for good fishing and water sports. Use this site as a base for other recreational opportunities in the area, watch for wildlife, and check out the interpretive panels that give an account of the early-day logging practices attested to by the massive western larch stumps in the area.
This National Historic Landmark on the rolling prairie of eastern Montana preserves the site of the June 17, 1876, battle between Lakota (Sioux) and Cheyenne warriors and General George Crook’s soldiers supported by Crow and Shoshone Indians. The Army was there to enforce the U.S. government’s recent reservation proclamation. The Lakota and Cheyenne were defending their families and way of life. Both sides fought bravely. The battle was a draw, with each side claiming victory.
Immediately adjacent to Montana 83, this park is an access point to one of the beautiful lakes in the Clearwater River chain of lakes. Plan to fish, picnic, launch your boat, water-ski, read, review interpretive signs, or let your children get the wiggles out after a long drive in this woodland setting of western larch, ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir.
You’ll definitely want your camera handy when you spend a day or a weekend in this remote setting. Remains of mines, a railroad, and historic cabins line Belt Creek as it winds through a beautiful canyon carved in limestone. This rugged area has seen its share of prospectors searching for precious metals, miners, muleskinners, smeltermen and railroaders building bridges. The Barker mines and the Montana Central Railroad are just a part of the rich history of this park.
The Smith River is a unique 59-mile river corridor. Permits are required to float the stretch of Smith River between Camp Baker and Eden Bridge. Noted for its spectacular scenery and blue-ribbon trout fishery, the Smith River is unique in that it has only one public put-in and one public take-out for the entire 59-mile segment of river. Boat camps located along the remote river canyon help preserve the unique quality of this area. Visit the Smith River Floating Web page for more information.
Spring Meadow Lake
This urban, day-use-only park minutes from Helena fed by natural springs, is a popular spot for family afternoons of swimming, sunbathing, scuba diving, fishing, birdwatching, and pure play. When you tire of the beach, walk the park’s easy nature trail that circles the lake, home to a wide variety of birds and other wildlife. In winter, you can still stroll along the trail and, if it’s cold enough, ice-skate on the lake.
This shaded, quiet campground is located on the Clark Fork River near the town of Thompson Falls in the rugged and beautiful Clark Fork Valley. This site provides excellent fishing and boating opportunities on the Clark Fork River or the Noxon Rapids Reservoir. It’s also a nice place to walk, bird watch, or just relax. Kids can fish for trout in the fishpond, and a riverside trail provides ample river access. A small boat launch is provided, and a full-sized launch for larger boats is available mile from the park.
Tongue River Reservoir
The 12-mile long reservoir is situated among scenic red shale, juniper canyons, and the open prairies of southeastern Montana. The park is loved by Montana and Wyoming anglers, campers, and boaters. Water sports are popular here and the park boasts excellent fishing as four state record fish have been pulled from its waters.
Tower Rock State Park is one of Montana’s newest state parks. The 400-foot high igneous rock formation lies in a 140-acre site along the stretch of the Missouri River between Craig, Montana and Pelican Point Fishing Access Site. The public can park their vehicle in the spacious parking lot, then learn about the geology and history of the site with five interpretive panels located at the trail head. The trail to the base of the saddle is maintained for a quarter-mile. Tower Rock State Park is a day use only park. Overnight camping is allowed in nearby fishing access sites.
This National Historic Landmark, located just 8 miles south of Missoula, is the only archeologically verified campsite of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the nation. The exact location of their campsite was validated through a unique archeological investigation completed in 2002.
Folks in the know will tell you that the best sunsets on Flathead Lake can be viewed from Wayfarers State Park. To be sure, the rocky cliffs along the shoreline offer beautiful vistas of the lake at any time of day. Located just outside the charming town of Bigfork, this park provides public access for launching your boat and swimming in the refreshing water of Flathead Lake. Enjoy camping in the trees, picnicking on the grassy area overlooking the lake, or hiking through the mature forest where wildflowers abound from spring to late fall. Tenting sites are located next to the water for visitors arriving in human-powered watercraft on the Flathead Lake Marine Trail. Other amenities at the park include comfort stations with coin-operated showers, boat and trailer dump stations, and firewood for sale. A group use shelter and playground are available in the adjacent Harry Horn Park.
Glacially carved rock outcrops rise from Flathead Lake to overlooks with spectacular views of the lakeshore and the Swan and Mission Mountains. Considered the most private park on Flathead Lake, this site is distinguished by a mature fir, pine, and larch forest. The beach is rocky but you can still swim, boat, and camp here.
Although it’s right on the outskirts of Whitefish, this small park provides a mature forest and a pleasant campground and beach. Boating, swimming and fishing are popular activities and the lake is rarely windy so it provides ideal conditions for waterskiing. Children love the trains that rumble along the park’s edge.
Wild Horse Island
At 2,160 acres, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake west of Minnesota. Wild Horse Island has been a landmark since the Salish-Kootenai Indians were reported to have used it to pasture horses to keep them from being stolen by other tribes.
Yellow Bay State Park is in the heart of the famous Montana sweet cherry orchards. In the summer, cherries can be purchased at nearby roadside stands or U-Pick orchards. The park includes Yellow Bay Creek and a wide, gravelly beach. Among its attractions are boating, lake trout fishing, water skiing, bird watching, swimming, camping, and scuba diving.
Yellowstone National Park
Visit Yellowstone and experience the world’s first national park. Marvel at a volcano’s hidden power rising up in colorful hot springs, mudpots, and geysers. Explore mountains, forests, and lakes to watch wildlife and witness the drama of the natural world unfold. Discover the history that led to the conservation of our national treasures “for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
The Yellowstone is the last free flowing river in the lower 48 states. From its headwaters in Lake Yellowstone downstream 670 miles to the Missouri River in North Dakota, the Yellowstone River flows as it has for centuries, in its natural state, undammed and untamed.