Backcountry Camping

Yellowstone River

Yellowstone River State Park

Yellowstone River State Park

Yellowstone River State Park

Yellowstone River State Park is just over 200 acres of what used to be the Circle R Ranch, which was purchased by FWP in 2008. Sandstone bluffs, pasturelands, and groves of cottonwood trees surround this unique park.

Unlike many state parks across Montana, you won't find many amenities or visitor information kiosks. This undeveloped park is adjacent to Wildlife Management Areas and BLM property, which allows users to experience solitude and quiet only miles from Montana's largest city, Billings.

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Looking for things to do?

There are many opportunities for recreation along the Yellowstone River.

Gravel along the river from Custer to Sidney often yields Montana agates (inquire locally or through the Custer Country tourism region for guide services or rockhounding tips).

Fishing and floating are two other favorite activities on the Yellowstone. Badlands scenery is abundant in Terry or Makoshika State Park (in Glendive, MT), where you can drive to view impressive rock formations.

The site contains 3,976 deeded acres and includes 5 miles of wooded Yellowstone River shoreline. The acquisition also secured for the public use of 5,450 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and state land that had been difficult to access.

Currently undeveloped, the park provides an ideal spot for hiking the day away. Sandstone bluffs overlook the Yellowstone River while deep canyons and ponderosa pine-lined coulees dot the landscape.

The area provides habitat for mourning doves, meadowlarks, mallards, Canada geese, wild turkeys, pheasants, sage grouse, sharptailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, mule deer, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, and even an occasional elk.

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.

Clear, cool, swift and challenging it offers fishermen and river runners some of the best water Montana has to offer.

To fishermen, its blue-ribbon waters are known world round for an abundance of big trout. As it flows through Montana, the big river goes through many changes - from steep-walled canyons where boulders churn its green waters to the eastern part of the state where the river broadens to take a lazy path through fertile farm country.

There are many opportunities for recreation along the Yellowstone River.

 

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Beautiful, spacious, peaceful and fun!"

"It's beautiful here & I heard the fishing is good."

"The only state park in the middle of MT. Nice cottonwoods surround good size lake. Camp spots on the far side are more private and shaded in the afternoon. Beautiful prairie views."

 

"It is a fun place to hang out for the weekend. Great for fishing year-round."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    989 Ackley Lake Road Hobson, MT 59452

Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park was created in 1974 and included significant historic structures and remnants of the abandoned towns of Riceville and Albright that once existed for the purpose of mining limestone in the canyon.

Belt Creek which formed the canyon that is the centerpiece of the park, has long been popular for outdoor recreation. Citizens of nearby Great Falls began visiting the area for fishing, camping, hunting and other activities as early as 1889 when the railroad connecting silver mines in the Barker and Hughesville mining districts to smelters in Great Falls was completed.

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Things to do:

The park is now popular with local visitors, history enthusiasts, fishermen, hikers, and others. The rugged landscape creates dramatic scenery as it contrasts distinctly with the rolling hills and rounded mountains of this part of central Montana.

A walk down the old railroad grade trail will bring you to fishing access, floating, swimming and wildlife viewing. Be aware: steep cliffs, rugged terrain and cold, swift water can pose a risk to visitors, so be sure to take caution!

If you’re looking to camp, you’ll need a Backcountry Campsite Permit. You can contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters in Great Falls to do so.

The Barker Mines and the Montana Central Railroad are part of the history of Sluice Boxes State Park.
Carved by Belt Creek as it comes down from the Little Belt Mountains, the large limestone cliffs and steep ledges are the signatures of Belt Creek Canyon.

By September of 1890, the Central Montana Railroad dropped off fisherman at various locations along Belt Creek in what is now Sluice Boxes State Park. When Belt Creek was named a blue ribbon trout stream in the 1920s, the railroad ran special “fishing trains” on Sundays.

This area was once home to prospectors searching for precious metals, miners, muleskinners, smelter men and railroaders building bridges. Today, visitors can find the remnants of mines, cabins and a railroad along the banks of Belt Creek in the park.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"We stop every trip because the view is gorgeous no matter what the season."

"Beautiful place. Be prepared if you plan on hiking the trail. Lots of river crossings."

"A great place to hike if you don't mind crossing the river several times. It is best to go in the late summer when the river is at its lowest point so that you can cross safely. There is an old homestead to explore as well."

"Family & pet friendly hike. Beautiful for pictures and swimming. There is a spot where you can do a cliff jump into the lake."

 

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    Park

    Parking/Trailhead
    Open Sunrise to Sunset

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    Backcountry

    Open 24/7

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    Pets Allowed

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    Toilets (Vault)

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    Campground

    Backcountry Campsite

    Permit required

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    Location

    38 Evans Riceville Road Belt, MT 59412

Makoshika

Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park features spectacular badland formations and the remains of the infamous Tyrannosaurus Rex, as well as other amazing dino fossils.

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Looking to dig for fossils?

The park offers special events throughout the year, including Montana Shakespeare in the Park, Friday night campfire programs and youth programs in summer, and the famous Buzzard Day festival, the second Saturday in June, featuring 10k & 5k races and a fun run, Native American singers & drummers, jumping house, food, disc golf tournament, hikes and more!

Visitors are asked not to bring metal detectors, and no digging, collecting or removal of artifacts is allowed.

Included within the park are an archery site, scenic drives, hiking trails, 28 camping sites, a group picnic area, and an outdoor amphitheater.

The visitor center at the park entrance has interpretive exhibits that are great for kids.

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Curious what other visitors have had to say about the park?

"Really cool rock features. Very easy hikes to see amazing views."

"Never a disappointment. I LOVE Makoshika park. I always stop by to visit the ranger's in the gift shop. They are all so very welcoming."

"The scenic overlooks are awesome. Some of the trails are slightly treacherous. Bring water on your walks. The staff are friendly and helpful. The visitor center has some very cool displays of the archeological finds from the area."

"We loved this park. Great views and hiking- decent privacy for spots even though there aren’t really trees to separate the sites. Lots of things to do nearby since it’s so close to town! Wish we had time to take a longer visit and hike more of the trails! Watch out for cacti!"

 

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    Park

    Open all year
    Open daily 7 am to 10 pm Water available year round

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    Campground 

    Open year round

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    Visitor Center

    Winter Hours 3rd Monday of Sept – 3rd Thursday of May: Open Wed - Sun, 10 am - 5 pm.

    Summer Hours 3rd Friday of May – 3rd Sunday of Sept:
    Open daily, 10 am - 5 pm.

    Closed all federal and state holidays except Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day.

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    Location

    1301 Snyder Avenue Glendive, MT 59330