Canoeing

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park covers approximately 3,000 acres and stretches over 20 miles along Highway 2, halfway between Kalispell and Libby.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking for water access?

This extensive park includes shoreline access to 18 lakes including McGregor Lake, Little McGregor Lake, Lower Thompson Lake, Middle Thompson Lake, Upper Thompson Lake, Horseshoe Lake and Loon Lake.

There are 83 standard campsites and 8 group campsites, all of which require a fee for overnight camping. Sites are rustic; there is no drinking water available.  Please remember, these campgrounds are currently closed and will reopen when health officials have determined it is safe to do so.

Concrete boat ramps are located at Little McGregor Lake, Boisverts on McGregor Lake, the Peninsula on Lower Thompson Lake, Upper Thompson Lake, Horseshoe Lake and Loon Lake.

Roads are primitive and not recommended for motor homes and large trailers.

However, the 37 developed campsites at Logan State Park, located on Middle Thompson Lake, are suitable for large camping units.

Visitors enjoy swimming, boating, camping, and water skiing, and the lakes are especially noted for great fishing.

Local fish include black crappie, brook trout, lake trout, northern pike, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, kokanee salmon, westslope cutthroat trout and yellow perch.

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park also offers some of the most outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing in northwest Montana.

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

"It's an amazingly beautiful place to be out in the water. So clear you can see the bottom."

"Very pretty and fun to explore on a kayak!"

"Love the nice small lakes, great for paddle board or kayak. Did not camp but would be great place to do that. Area is well maintained."

"These lakes are renown for fishing, swimming and water sports. There are plenty of camp sites around the lakes, including Logan State Park - which has a boat launch and public beach perfect for picnic lunches and swimming for even young kids."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Roads are not maintained during winter months.

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    Camping 

    Gates for campsite pods at Lower, Middle and Upper Thompson are closed 11/30/19 and tentatively reopen 4/26/20.

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    Location

    78854 US Hwy 2 Libby, MT 59923

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Located along the Clark Fork River between Thompson Falls Dam and Noxon Dam, Thompson Falls State Park is surrounded by a mature and a mixed conifer forest making for a tranquil and quiet destination.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to hike or fish?

Ready to hike away your day? Thompson Falls Trail runs along the Clark Fork River and connects to the Montana Highway 200 into the town of Thompson Falls where you’ll find the Thompson Falls Community Trails network.

Pike and bass are the most common species fished out of Thompson Falls State Park, but you may find a surprise species if you’re lucky!

While fishing and hiking are popular in Thompson Falls, this state park is used mostly for camping and picnicking. Host to 18 sites and a group picnic area, this riverside campground is great for tent or RV camping, but make sure your trailer is no more than 30 feet!

The Thompson Chain of Lakes includes 18 lakes and stretches 20 miles! Families will love the improved fishing pond which includes an accessible fishing pier, picnic shelter, bathroom and improved parking.

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

"Nice place to camp along Clark Fork River. Beautiful view from the back of our site along the river. Camp was quiet and bathrooms were clean."

"Plenty of camping and picnic spots, along with a boat launch. Long stretches of Sandy Beach along the river for swimming. We enjoyed kayaking, as well! We come every year for a big family campout!"

"This place is so beautiful! The trail is right on the river. My children absolutely loved it! My 5 year especially loved the lake with all the turtles. This is a great place to eat lunch and go for a short hike."

"A great place to camp!! Will definitely go back."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Gates Open

    April 27 - September 30

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    Gates Closed

    October 2 - April 26

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    Campground

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    2220 Blue Slide Rd. Thompson Falls, MT 59873

Spring Meadow Lake State Park 3

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Located west of Helena is Spring Meadow Lake State Park, a day-use park, popular for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and birdwatching.

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Looking for wildlife?

There are great wildlife viewing opportunities at Spring Meadow Lake State Park. You’ll find birds, rabbits, turtles and more! Looking for a nice walk? A 0.8-mile, self-guided nature trail circles the lake.

If you’re in need of a spot to fish, Spring Meadow Lake is your place. The lake is home to trout, bass and sunfish and there is even an ADA accessible fishing dock added to the park in 2011!

Even in winter, Spring Meadow Lake is perfect for recreation. The trail is open all winter and if it’s cold enough you can even fish or skate on the lake!

Unfortunately, your four-legged friend will have to stay home during the warmer months. Between April 15 and October 15 there are no dogs allowed in Spring Meadow Lake State Park.

Spring Meadow Lake State Park is a fed by a natural spring that feeds cool, clean water into the lake that is used for fishing, swimming, non-motorized boating, and even scuba diving. The lake and the state park land surrounding it were once an active gravel mine that was donated to the state in 1981.

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

"Nice quite little state park inside of Helena. Relaxing place to picnic, fish, swim or small boat/kayak."

"Great place to take the family out for the day and even get some fishing in. Located right in the heart of Helena, it is not out of the way at all and certainly worth a trip even just to hang out for lunch. The view is really nice, especially for being right in town that you would never even know."

"Great family park for Helena. Well maintained and kid-friendly swimming areas balanced with nice trails and fishing areas."

"Spring Meadow Lake State Park is the crown jewel among all the local parks. It is close to town, so people who can't go too far afield on their own (kids, for instance) can get there on foot or by bicycle. The lake itself is also a gem - it is usually clear, and it is always deep, cold, spring-fed and full of fish that everybody and anybody can try to catch. Helena is blessed with abundant parks and lots of nearby venues for outdoor fun but compared to any other urban parks and fishing spots anywhere, Helena's Spring Meadow Lake State Park cannot be beat."

 

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    Park

    Open 6 am to 10 pm

    Year-Round

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    Location

    2715 Country Club Drive Helena, MT 59601

Painted Rocks State Park

Painted Rocks State Park

Painted Rocks State Park

Named for the green, yellow and orange lichens that cover the grey and black walls of the granite and rhyolite cliffs, Painted Rocks State Park is located in the West Fork Valley of the Bitterroot Mountains.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to camp?

Painted Rocks State Park offers 25 campsites, a boat ramp and boat dock. Be sure if you’re bringing your trailer or RV that it’s no longer than 25 feet!

And if you like to hike, there are many trailheads near the park that offer access to national forest land. 

Painted Rocks Dam was originally planned to be constructed for agricultural use!

The Montana Water Conservation started work on Painted Rock Dam in 1939. Today, Painted Rocks Reservoir provides water for irrigation, stock water, domestic use and in-stream flows for fish. The reservoir the dam creates is the perfect location for boating or fishing!

While in the park, keep your eyes open for the diverse populations of wildlife including elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear or moose! You may even catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep or peregrine falcons which were reintroduced to the area in the 1980s.

Are you or do you know an avid birdwatcher? If you happen to be in the area in the spring or fall, you’re in luck! Osprey, great blue heron, water ouzels, spotted sandpiper and kill-deer make pitstops in their migration patterns at Painted Rocks State Park.

Part of the homeland of the Salish people for many years, this area continues to be a place of great value to the Salish. The area did, and still does, provide great hunting and a place to gather traditional foods such as huckleberries, serviceberries, Bitterroot, trout as well as other fish and mountain tea. 

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

"It was beautiful! I've been here many times but this is the first time I kayaked it. Absolutely smooth as glass on the most perfect sunshiny day."

"Beautiful, peaceful, wonderful place to spend time with the family."

"What is not to love. So worth the drive."

"Lovely scenery, very peaceful. Saw my first big horn sheep in the wild here. It was amazing"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Dawn to Dusk

    Campground

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    8809 West Fork Road Darby, MT 59829

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park 1

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park

Located just east of Whitehall, MT, lies the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Discovered in 1892 by local hunters, these caverns went on to become Montana's first state park.

As one of the largest known limestone cavern systems in the northwest, Montanans have been exploring the caves for over 100 years!

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Interested in tours?

Access to the cave is by guided tours only, May through September with limited candlelight tours offered in December. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park also features camping and a network of trails to hike or bike, a state-of-the-art visitor center, interpretive displays, a gift shop, food and beverage concessions, amphitheater, and interpretive events presented during the summer months.

Looking to camp?

The park has a large campground with 40 campsites, a tipi, and three cabins, which you can reserve online, and a group camping area, which you must contact the park to reserve. There is a $5 charge to use the dump station.

The site encompasses 3,015 acres. The entry area is at an elevation of 4,300 feet and the caverns area is at an elevation of 5,300 feet.

Cave access is only available through the guided tour. You will be asked to please wear a mask. 

Cavern Tours are now being offered. 

Special procedures for the safety of our visitors and staff:

Only Paradise tours offered at this time. The Paradise tour will guide you to the largest, most decorated rooms of the cave. Tour length is approximately 1 mile and the tour takes about 1 1/2 hours.

The tours are first come, first served starting May 28, 2021 and through September 30, 2021.

Tickets are limited.

Paradise Tours will be offered Friday-Monday, hourly from 9:15am-5:15pm.

Bring a face covering. Face coverings are required during cave tours.

Although optional for other areas of the park. Park disinfecting procedures involve using a bleach solution.

Visitors should consider wearing new or very clean gloves, especially in the caverns where the handrails are cleaned with bleach solution every tour.

Because of group size restrictions, tours are very limited. Park facilities that are open now are disinfected intermittently. We suggest visitors bring hand sanitizer and/or disinfecting wipes for personal use.

Paradise Tour 

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1 mile / 90 minutes
Schedule: Beginning May 22, 2020 Friday-Monday, offered hourly, 9:15 am-5:15 pm. Cost: $15 / person, 15 years & older; $10 for seniors, persons with a disability, and youth ages 5-14 years; children 4 years & under are free.

Pre-registration and pre-payment required. To reserve tour tickets, learn how to prepare for your visit or discover current Park restrictions, call (406) 287-3541.

Tickets are limited. Call for tickets even if it is the day you’d like to take a tour. Walk a level ½ mile trail to see the Paradise Room, the largest, most active and decorated portion of the cave. Part of the tour is wheelchair accessible.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park features one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest.

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

"The caverns are amazing and the tours are fantastic. I have been through several times over the years and always loved the experience. The candlelight tours in the winter are amazing for the experience and historic aspects, but the summer tours really show off the caverns with the lights. All of the guides are passionate about their jobs and the caves, and love to teach. Great place to visit and bring friends and family."

"Absolutely beautiful! The bats are very cool to see as well! Can't wait to see it again."

"These Caverns are a jewel. The drive to the caverns winds along the Jefferson River, with cliffs adorning the sides of the road. Our party were excited to to the Caverns today, as it was the rare tour through the cave system with candles!!! This Candlelight tour is offered only at Christmas. What a treat!! The vision of the fellow participants weaving among the cave features is idyllic. It is surprising how much light the candlelight can make in the total dark. This is a best kept secret. The tour guides are top notch."

"A truly fascinating and unique experience! Amazing formations of nature. A true treasure. Outstanding tour and educational experience. Highly recommend!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Campground

    Open

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    Water

    Available May 2 - Sept 30.

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    Showers & Comfort Station

    Available May 2 - Sept 30

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    Visitor Center

    Normal hours: Winter hours, October 7 - April 13: Open Wed - Sun, 10 am - 4 pm. Summer hours: 8:30 am - 4:30 pm daily; Open until 6:30pm in mid-summer.

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    Location

    25 Lewis and Clark Caverns Rd. Whitehall, MT 59759

Lake Mary Ronan State Park

Lake Mary Ronan State Park

Lake Mary Ronan State Park

Lake Mary Ronan State Park is just seven miles west of Flathead Lake.

This park offers a quiet camping opportunity nestled among a boreal forest.

This state park is noted for its fishing and numerous trails that lead into the surrounding areas which abound in wildflowers and wildlife.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to camp?

Lake Mary Ronan State Park's campground offers 25 campsites, including seasonal electricity at individual campsites, a paved campground road and spurs, plus a new and improved group camping area, boat trailer parking and a boating ramp.
This state park is on 120 acres at an elevation of 3,770 ft.

Off the beaten path just 7 miles west of Flathead Lake, this park is shaded by Douglas fir and western larch.
Lake Mary Ronan provides a quiet opportunity for relaxing, camping, and fishing from either a boat or the parks boat dock. A hiking trail leads into the surrounding area which abound with wildflowers and wildlife.

Several businesses near the park offer a variety of services including food, beverages, bait, and more.

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

"One of my families favorite places to camp. Fishing is great and the campground is quiet"

"Beautiful lodge ,great amenities, extremely lovely and helpful staff. Very excited to come back for a longer stay!"

"Stopped to check out the state campground and lake, very beautiful and peaceful. Dennis, park host, very friendly and knowledgeable of the lake, fishing and surrounding areas. My husband and I are looking forward to camping there."

"Beautiful location. Friendly hosts. Always kept clean and tidy."

 

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    Park

    Open

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    Campground 

    Opening May 1.

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    Electricity

    Available through October

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    Potable water

    Available May through September

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    Dock

    Available for the season.

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    Location

    50623 Lake Mary Ronan Rd. Dayton, MT 59860

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Lake Elmo State Park

Lake Elmo State Park

Lake Elmo State Park

Inside the city limits of Billings is Lake Elmo State Park. A large 64-acre reservoir, Lake Elmo is the perfect place to swim, paddle, fish, picnic, bird watch, or hike the 1.4-mile nature trail.  The Lake, originally known as Holling Lake Reservoir, was constructed to provide water to irrigated farmland as part of the Carey Land Act of 1894.  The water that fills the man-made lake is diverted from the Yellowstone River near Laurel, MT, and flows through 63 miles of gravity-fed canals before reaching the lake.

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Things to do:

Prior to becoming a State Park in 1983, Lake Elmo was once the site of a two-story restaurant and night club known for dancing, big band music, and two-inch thick T-bone steaks.  Nearby property owners created beaches for swimming and even cleared snow from the lake in the winter to host ice skating.  At once point a thriving boat club was formed by local water skiing and motor boating enthusiasts.

The Regional Office for Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is now located in the park.  The Regional Office houses an impressive collection of taxidermied birds, fish, and wildlife.  You can also purchase conservation licenses and apply for permits at the office which is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A special feature of Lake Elmo is its Dog Park. The 200-square-foot fenced-in area includes a water area and is located on the west side of the lake. Each visitor is allowed a maximum of two dogs in this special area. Dogs must be 4 months or older. Dogs must be on a leash in all other areas of Lake Elmo State Park.

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Lake Elmo Supper Club drew people for dining, dancing, and watching water skiers just out the back door. The Supper Club burned down in 1946, but Lake Elmo continues to be a popular place today.

The reservoir was constructed in 1906 and serves as the storage basin for the Billings Bench Water Association. 

Your four-legged friends will love Lake Elmo State Park as much as you! The dog park at Lake Elmo is a 200-square-foot fenced area that includes access to the water located on the west side of the lake. You and two of your furry friends are allowed to run off-leash in this area, but must be on a leash in all other parts of the park. 

During the summer, the lake is stocked with fish regularly and Roger’s Pier is an excellent fishing spot on the south shore of the lake. And although a popular place to cool off in the summer, the lake can be accessed from many points which means these parks never feel too overcrowded. 

Only non-motorized boating is allowed on the lake though, so you won’t find any water skiing here like you could in the 30s and 40s!

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

"It's basically on the outskirts of town. Fair sized, man made lake with stocked, variety of fish. No motorized craft allowed on the lake. There are picnic shelters, kids play ground, paved parking and restrooms. The water's edge is a work in progress with some beach areas and a boat ramp. No overnight camping. A great day trip."

"I really like this lake, not only is it large enough to explore it has great picknick areas, walking trails. It's very clean and well taken care of."

"Great family place. Canoeing, swimming, and just fun in the sun with people you care about."

"A beautiful lake right in town and watching the sunset there was breathtaking."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    2300 Lake Elmo Drive Billings, MT 59105

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Cooney State Park

Cooney State Park

Cooney State Park

Head to Cooney State Park, a reservoir 40 minutes south of Billings, to go boating, play in the water, camp, and fish. This is the most popular recreation area serving south-central Montana, and it's always a busy place in the summer!

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to fish?

Cooney has been a state park since October of 1970 and new visitor amenities have been added slowly over time. The 97 ft tall earthen dam on Red Lodge Creek that forms the reservoir was constructed in 1937 as part of a larger irrigation project for nearby farmers and ranchers.

Not only does the park have a gorgeous reservoir, but it has great views of the Beartooth Mountain Range in the background.

Regardless of the season, you’ll find excellent fishing for walleye and rainbow trout. And don’t forget, the Red Lodge Arm has a fish cleaning station!

Planning to bring your boat along? You shouldn’t have any issues finding a place to drop in with three boat docks and ramps surrounding the lake!

During the winter, some people enjoy kite-skiing across the lake! 

Camping is plentiful at Cooney State Park with five campgrounds and 82 campsites, 19 of which have electricity! While the electricity in the campgrounds is on year-round, be aware the water is shut off during the winter months. 

There are also three day-use group areas available around the lake. 

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

"Moon coming out on a beautiful night on Cooney, fireworks northeast, south Red Lodge mountain still snow on the runs, people laughing in the distance having fun, winds died so this sailboat not going anywhere, on the hook south of Red lodge camping area wow it really doesn't get any better than this!"

"Park Ranger and the camp host were both really great with answering all our questions and giving directions to camp and nearest local convenience store! The campground is clean and beautiful, right on the lake, but not much shade so come prepared!"

"Every day of fishing is a good day. Mostly with scenery like this."

"It's an awesome place! Boat ramps, fishing, boating swimming, fires and camping! And you can rent kayaks and paddle boards."

 

"Just a little piece of heaven."

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Campground

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    86 Lake Shore Road

    Roberts, MT 59070

Big Arm State Park

Big Arm State Park

Big Arm State Park

Big Arm State Park is located on the western shore of Flathead Lake and less than 20 minutes outside of Polson, MT.

Flathead is the largest natural freshwater lake in the western United States. Twenty-eight miles long and 15 miles wide, Flathead Lake is renowned for its beauty.

We are able to bring you valuable information about this amazing state park thanks to the support of:

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Looking to camp?

The park has both flush and vault toilets, tent/RV sites, bear-resistant storage lockers, boat trailer parking, sheltered picnic tables, drinking water, grills/fire rings, firewood, picnic tables, trash cans, and coin-operated showers. RV/trailer size is limited to 30 feet in the 41 site campground. 

There are also seven tent-only campsites available. Big Arm has also added two yurts, including one that is entirely ADA accessible. Plans for more yurts, cabins, and other accommodations are in the works. 

You will need a joint state/tribal for fishing license or fishing at this park and campers may stay only 14 days during a 30-day period. Pets are required to be on leashes. Fees are charged for day use and camping.

  • Lounge on the long pebble beach or take a dip in the lake to cool off.
  • Come prepared with your joint state/tribal fishing license if you want to try and catch a big one!
  • Take a scenic hike on the trail, which provides outstanding views of the mountains.
  • Catch a glimpse of wildlife including birds, deer, and even a bear from time to time
  • Spend a day on the lake boating, skiing or wakeboarding
  • Experience a feeling of tranquility while camping under a collection of mature ponderosa pine and juniper trees
  • Plus so many more!
  • Open April through October
  • Day-Use Area Open Year-Round
  • 217 acres
  • ADA Accessible 
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault & Flush)
  • Water
  • Yurt 
  • Firewood for Sale 
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Boat Launch

On Flathead Lake's Big Arm Bay, this park is a popular destination for camping, swimming, fishing, picnicking, and as a jump-off point to Wild Horse Island.

Big Arm's pebble beach is a popular place to get your feet wet or take a swim in the lake.

Mature pine and fir trees surround the campsites at the park. Other activities at the park include fishing for lake trout, boating, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, bicycling, hiking the park trails, wildlife viewing, scuba diving, and water-skiing.

The water in Ackley Lake comes from the Judith River and is stockpiled for irrigation use!

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

"Wonderful camp grounds. Nice hosts, clean restrooms - overall well run and managed. It's a fantastic place to camp and play on the lake."

"Camped here with our boat. It was perfect! Great roomy sites and lots of shade. Yurt was very clean and bathrooms were better than most campsites we've been too."

"Big Arm campsite is super nice for fishing and swimming. Would 100% recommend it!"

"Beautiful place. Clear lake. Friendly people"

 

Parks That Others Are Visiting