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Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Located on Flathead Lake, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake west of Minnesota.

Accessible only by boat, Wild Horse Island has six boat landing sites, but visitors are welcome to pull their boats to shore on any of the public beach sites.

While most of the island is a state park, be aware as there is still private shoreline, therefore visitors are prohibited from using the boat docks.

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Looking to hike?

Due to the variety of wildlife, Wild Horse Island does not allow camping, pets or bikes as they may spook the animals. Fires and smoking are prohibited anywhere on the island.

What can you do at Wild Horse Island? The question is, what can’t you do?! You can:
Take a hike! The island has four miles of interconnected hiking trails, but visitors are free to explore off-trail as well.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Try and catch your dinner! Fishing is allowed with tribal & state fishing licenses.
  • Check out the wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons and wild horses.
  • Warm day? Take a dip in Flathead Lake!
  • Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you enjoy the views.

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 2,160 Acres
  • Boat Access
  • No Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Wild Horses
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Plus so many more!

Wild Horse Island is said to have been used by the Salish-Kootenai Indians who would pasture their horses on the island to prevent them from being stolen by other tribes!

Wild Horse Island used to be farmed and in the 30s even hosted a lodge. Visitors can still find apple and pear orchards, so if you’re feeling peckish, grab a snack! Besides the great views and interesting wildlife, you can also find rare, endangered plant life on Wild Horse Island. The island even has a Palouse Prairie ecosystem, one of only three of these biomes in Montana!

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

"Beautifully untouched for the most part. There are 5 horses currently on island and 1 bear, that we saw neither of. Lol. However it was abundant with bald eagles, osprey, deer, and bighorn sheep. Most of which you can view from a boat offshore if you have a keen eye. If not get a guided tour. But no tours are given on island, just to and from."

"Great place to boat to and relax. Beautiful water and fun rocks to skip!"

"Beautiful island to cruise around and we caught the 5 wild horses on the Western side!"

"Island in flathead lake with a few hiking trails and animals. Worth a visit during the day, or coming over by boat closer to dusk to see the deer, sheep, and possibly horses as they come down to drink."

 

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    Park

    Open Year Round

    Restrictions/Closures
    Fires & Smoking Prohibited
    Groups 15 and over must have a special permit.

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    Location

    Flathead Lake
    Latitude/Longitude:
    (47.84715/-114.23458)

Wild Horse Island State Park

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Wayfarers State Park

Wayfarers State Park

Wayfarers State Park

Located on the northeast shore of Flathead Lake near Bigfork, you’ll find Wayfarers State Park. This park, while small, has so much to offer!

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Looking to camp?

From spring to late fall the area abounds in wildflowers. Nature walks over the rocky shoreline to the cliffs are popular with photographers for an excellent view of Flathead Lake. There are 30 campsites in the park, including a hike-bike campsite with 9 tent pads, convenient for cyclists traveling the nearby Continental Divide route.

The maximum length for RV/trailer units is 40 feet. Starting in spring and into the late fall, Wayfarers is full of wildflowers! The best part of Wayfarers State Park? Its location along the northeastern part of Flathead Lake make it one of the ideal places to watch the sunset over the lake and sink behind the mountains.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Lake Fishing
  • Motor Boating
  • Nature
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • RV Camping
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Tent Camping
  • Water Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • ADA Accessible
  • Bear Resistant Storage Lockers
  • Boat Launch
  • Camp Host
  • Dock
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Grills/Fire Rings
  • Hike-Bike Campsites
  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Playground
  • Public Restroom
  • RV Dump Station
  • Shower
  • Toilets (Flush)
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Trash Removal
  • Plus so much more!

While close enough to Bigfork to walk, the mature mixed forest of Wayfarers makes it a great place for camping and picnicking. Located near the quaint resort town of Bigfork on the northeast shore of Flathead Lake, this park is 67 acres in size and is 2,923 feet in elevation. A mature mixed forest makes this site very pleasant for camping and picnicking.

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

"Really nice park with lots of room. Nice water access very close to Bigfork. Well kept."

"Great place to camp and beautiful views of the lake!"

"Great for all ages. There were tons of families but we were able to find a whole other section with rocks to jump off of. So much fun."

"When passing through Big Fork, we often make Wayfarers our lunch stop destination. A good chance to stretch the legs, gaze out over the water, and enjoy lunch. We have camped here as well. Can be very crowded mid-summer so make a reservation. Some sites are very tight."

 

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    Park

    Day use area open year-round.

    Campground
    Closed

    Water and Shower House
    Available May through September.

    Dock
    Contact park for availability.
    ock is unusable when lake level is low.
    Typically lake level is high enough mid-June through early-September.
    For Waves & Wind Forecast, check NOAA Graphical Flathead Lake Forecast

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    Location

    8600 MT. Hwy 35 Bigfork, MT 59911

Wayfarers State Park

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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.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating, canoeing, kayaking or sailing
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Paddleboarding or windsurfing
  • Wildlife viewing
  • Plus so much more!

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Open Year-Round
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault & Flush)
  • Showers
  • Maps
  • Water

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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Lake Elmo State Park

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Finley Point State Park

Finley Point State Park

Finley Point State Park

Located on a narrow point on the south side of Flathead Lake, Finley Point is an ideal park for boaters and RV campers.

Finley Point is one of Montana's oldest state parks and has been open to the public since July 12th, 1965. The park is known as an excellent fishing location for Lake Trout and Kokanee Salmon. Anglers should note that state and tribal fishing licenses are required for fishing in the area.

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Looking to boat?

Boaters can rent a slip in the marina, some of which offer electric and water hookups for those camping on their boats. Along with the camping slips, the marina also offers 12 boat slips without electricity.

Camping, boating, and other visitor facilities at Finley Point State Park were recently rebuilt or expanded by WGM Group of Missoula, MT.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Water Available Mid-May to September 30
  • Dock Available Mid-June to Early-September
  • 28 Acres

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Water
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Boat Launch and Dock
  • RV Hookups
  • Firewood for Sale

The new park layout and expanded facilities allow for more visitors to enjoy the park without feeling crowded and reducing impacts on sensitive lakeshore habitat.

Thinking of camping? Finley Point offers 18 RV campsites, seven tent sites and four boat camping slips. Maximum RV length will vary by campsite, so be sure to check out the ReserveAmerica website for additional details. 

MT State Parks Rangers frequently host interpretive storytelling and other special events at the park.  These programs usually take place in the evening and are free to registered campers at the park.  

While in close proximity to Polson and very busy during the summer months, Finley Point’s mature conifer forest helps the campground feel secluded. 

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

"One simple word “AMAZING!” We love Finely Point!!"

"Beautiful scenic area, even if it's for a quick stop on your road trip. There was also an amazing massive field of pinkish flowers just on the north end of it when we were there!"

"The site was amazing!! It had amazing views right on the shore."

"Nice sites and many close to the water. Trees, nice base for tents. Dogs ok"

 

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    Park

    Open May 1 to September 30

    Campground

    Open May 1 to September 30

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    Location

    31453 S. Finley Point Rd. Finley Pt., MT 59806

Finley Point State Park

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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!

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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!

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bicycling
  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Fishing
  • Group Camping
  • Hiking
  • Horseshoes
  • Ice Fishing
  • Ice Skating
  • Kayaking
  • Lake Fishing
  • Motor Boating
  • Mountain Biking
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Running
  • RV Camping
  • Sailing
  • Sand Volleyball Court
  • Sightseeing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wind Surfing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open Year-Round
  • 309 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Water
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Boat Launch & Docks
  • Playground

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

    Campground

    Open Year-Round

     

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    Location

    86 Lake Shore Road

    Roberts, MT 59070

Cooney State Park

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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.

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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.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • 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!

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 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

Big Arm State Park

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