Hiking

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

Lost Creek State Park 6

Lost Creek State Park

Lost Creek State Park

Lost Creek State Park

Lost Creek State Park is a public recreation area and campground located six miles north of Anaconda, Montana, featuring limestone cliffs and multi-colored rock formations that rise 1,200 feet (370 m) above its canyon floor.

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Looking to hike?

The 502 acre state park features a short walking trail to Lost Creek Falls, which plunges 50 feet. The park is open year-round for hiking, bicycling, fishing, and wildlife viewing with mountain goats and bighorn sheep commonly seen. The park is open seasonally for camping. 

Wildlife, especially mountain goats, golden eagles, and bighorn sheep are frequently seen on the cliffs above the park.  Pika are often seen and heard in the rocks and talus of the upper portion of the canyon. 

If you prefer a longer hike, US Forest Service trails just north of the falls parking area lead for miles into the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. One such trail winds for several miles along Lost Creek through forests and meadows with great views of the surrounding mountains.

Located in the Flint Creek Mountain Range, Lost Creek State Park is a must for Montanans and visitors alike. With the significant growth of Aspen throughout the park, the colors are brilliant come fall – so be sure to get this on your list!

Grey limestone cliffs rise high above the canyon along with towering 1,200 foot pink and white granite formations.

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

"What an awesome ticked away location! The camping looks really quite and private, tucked in the trees along the creek. Plus the small waterfall is right outside the campsite! There's a great moderate, wide trail that you can hike until you're tired. Just past the first mile you come to the first bridge which is a good turn around, but just another quarter mile is the service bridge which has a cool tiny side stream waterfall. We hiked three miles in to the old cabin and turned around there. Love the place!"

"Clean bathrooms, quiet, nice camping spots, overflow parking, hiking trails. There is a short hike to the waterfalls or you can take the longer hike and look over the falls. Beautiful area, lots of cliffs and if you bring binoculars you can watch the mountain goats traverse the cliffs. Discovery ski area, Georgetown lake, and Granite ghost town are all nearby. The sweet shop in Phillipsburg has the biggest and best candy selection in Montana but they are closed on Saturdays. If you take a left at Porters corner and go 16 miles you can spend the day searching for Sapphires at Gem Mountain."

"Very nice drive. Scenic views. The falls were very easy to walk to."

"Stopped here for a quick hike while driving thru the area. Very nice and peaceful spot, hike was easy and path was well marked. $8 entrance fee for nonresident plates, dog-friendly. I would recommend it!"

 

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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.

Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. To reserve tour tickets, learn how to prepare for your visit or discover current Park restrictions, call (406) 287-3541. Tickets are limited. We are only booking tours within a 2-week window from the date you call.

Call for tickets even if it is the day you’d like to take a tour.

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

Elkhorn State Park 3

Elkhorn State Park

Elkhorn State Park

Elkhorn State Park

Traveling along gravel secondary roads outside of Boulder, you’ll find the once thriving town of Elkhorn, now one of the smallest state parks in the state.

 

 

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These roads take you through a 19th-century mining landscape before you reach historic Fraternity Hall and Gillian Hall nestled within the privately-owned town of Elkhorn. Bring your camera to record these two picturesque structures from the late 1800's silver-mining ghost town, preserved as outstanding examples of frontier architecture. Each has been recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Three-quarters of a mile up the main road that runs through town (just outside of the state park property) lies the town cemetery where visitors can see the tombstone of Swiss miner Peter Wys who originally discovered the silver veins in the Elkhorn Mine!

Rich with mineral deposits (including silver), the Boulder Batholith originally drew settlers to the area and led to the establishment of Elkhorn in 1868, now a silver-mining ghost town. The 1880s and 1890s were the most populous times for Elkhorn, drawing around 2,500 residents at its peak, but after the Silver Crash of 1893, the town saw a drop of 75 percent of its population in just two months. In total, the Elkhorn Mine yielded about $14 million in silver.

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

"Beautiful Town! Really neat old ghost town and mining artifacts. There are only a few buildings you can go into, but lots of history around town! The wood water tower has be repaired. I highly recommend checking out the cemetery, pretty sad story. Plenty of parking all over."

"Ghost town with sad cemetary interesting ghost town with private homes located around the buildings. There are two buildings in restored condition and other buildings scattered throughout untouched. Went further afield to the cemetery located on the hillside. Sad, unkempt and scattered tombs and plaques tell the story of the deaths of children during an epidemic."

"Lots of interesting old Stone and wood buildings give you a taste of the town that must have been grand. Check out the historic and protected Fraternity Hall. Be sure to walk up the hill to the cemetery. Monuments range from grand to crumbling wooden markers. Especially poignant are the many, many graves of children who died in the 1888-9 diphtheria epidemic."

"It still remains as one of the most well-preserved buildings in the town. Later, Elkhorn's prosperity wanted as the demand for silver decreased. When railroad service to Elkhorn was halted, most of the inhabitants left. Today, Elkhorn is a Montana State Park."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round, Pack-In/Pack-Out

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    Location

    812 Elkhorn Street Elkhorn, MT

Clark's Lookout State Park 4

Clark’s Lookout State Park

Clark's Lookout State Park

Clark’s Lookout State Park

Clark's Lookout State Park is located one mile north of Dillon, above the Beaverhead River.

Established December 23, 1985, Clark's Lookout is set along the historic Lewis and Clark trail.

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Looking to camp?

On August 13, 1805, Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery found what is now Clark’s Lookout State Park. Having traveled from the headwaters of the Missouri River and up the Jefferson River to continue their search for a passage to the Pacific Ocean, they found instead an incredible view.

The view from the top of the hill provided Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery with a view of what lay ahead. And William Clark worked to explore and document the hill overlooking the Beaverhead River.

  • Take a walk to the monument and gaze out over the land once surveyed by William Clark.
  • Have a picnic at the perfectly located picnic area.
  • Take a hike through the rest of the 7.23 acres via hiking trails with interpretive signs.
  • Cultural and Heritage information provided on site.
  • Check out all of the local wildlife including bird watching.
  • Photographic opportunities abound.
  • Plus so many more!

Interpretive signs help to explain the navigational methods used by the Corps of Discovery.

A short hike to the top of the lookout provides an incredible view of the Beaverhead Valley.

You’ll also find a granite monument shaped like a compass which displays the three compass readings Clark took in 1805! The compass monument’s design came from a small pocket compass Clark carried during the expedition!

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

"Fun! I love history. Didn't know this was there until we drove by."

"Great place to stop for a walk and see a historic sight."

"Picturesque views."

"Nice place to stop for a short walk up a path to some beautiful views."

 

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    Park

    May 1 - October 31 Open 8 am to dusk

    November 1 - April 30 Winter gate closure in effect, walk-in access only.

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    Location

    25 Clark’s Lookout Road
    Dillon, MT 59725 Park

Parks That Others Are Visiting

Black Sandy State Park 1

Black Sandy State Park

Black Sandy State Park

Black Sandy State Park

Black Sandy State Park is an extremely popular weekend boating, fishing, camping, and water skiing location.

You can make reservations up to one day in advance of your arrival date. For same-day availability, try the park office 406-458-3221 to check if any sites are available for that night. There are also boat slips for rent on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Looking to camp?

Black Sandy State Park has 29 campsites with electricity that you can reserve, and 6 campsites without electricity that are first come-first served.
The maximum trailer length is 35 ft.

There is NO lifeguard on duty at Black Sandy State Park.

The dam that forms Hauser reservoir, was built in the early 1900s and named after former governor Samuel Thomas Hauser. The park lies along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the area in 1805.

Prior to 1980, Montana Power Company owned the land and operated the park as a recreation area. In 1980, Montana Power turned over management of the park to Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP). In 1982, it was designated a state recreation area. Later on, the land was also turned over to FWP. (via wiki)

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

"Went overnight for tent camping. Nice spot right next to the water. There are 6 tent spots, none of which are bad. RV pads look nice right next to the water."

"Very nice areas, usually less crowded than Canyon Ferry. Make sure you stock up before you go, there aren't any stores close by. Some nice hikes and chances to see some wildlife."

"One of the most beautiful, peaceful places on earth. We only planned to stay one nite but extended for another nite because it was so peacefully and relaxing here."

"This is an excellent location for outdoor recreation. Plus, the staff are super friendly and the facilities are always maintained; very clean! "

 

"Close to helena, well kept but busy most of the time. All kinds of camping, close to a convenience store. State owned therefore inexpensive, and family friendly."

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    Park

    Open 24 hours/day all year for day use and camping.

    May 1- Nov 30: electrical hookups available

    Dec 1 - May 1: Limited facilities available

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    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

    6563 Hauser Dam Road
    Helena, MT 59602

Black Sandy State Park

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