Montana State Parks Foundation

66th Montana Legislature Passes Seven Bills That Will Help State Parks

This past winter and early spring Montana’s legislative branch convened for nearly four months in Helena to review and pass laws for the state. Legislative sessions only occur once every other year and Montana and their decisions have lasting impacts across the state for years to come.

In 2019, the legislature heard, debated, and ultimately passed seven bills that will affect State Parks in positive ways. We want to share a bit of information about these bills and how they will likely help State Parks in the years to come.

Summary of Bills Benefiting Montana State Parks

House Bill 229: Sponsored by Brad Hamlet: Clarifies that dinosaur bones and fossils are part of the surface estate or surface rights not subsurface or mineral rights. This bill makes it clear that paleontological artifacts located in state parks like Makoshika are the property of the State of Montana, not various subsurface rights owners within the parks.

House Bill 423: Sponsored by Edward Buttrey: Provides discounted state park camping opportunities for veterans across Montana. Making camping in State Parks more affordable to veterans is a great outcome and one that we hope will encourage more veterans and their families to get out and explore all the camping options available at our state parks.

House Bill 652: Sponsored by Mike Hopkins: Revises the long-range building infrastructure bonding program and includes approximately 1.3 million dollars for a water line from the Makoshika State Park Visitor Center to the campground and facilities in Cains Coulee. 

House Bill 695: Sponsored by Jim Keane: Appropriates funds to MT Fish, Wildlife, and Parks for the purchase of a permanent recreation easement at Big Arm State Park on Flathead Lake. The purchase of this recreational easement settles a decades-long challenge facing State Parks as they grappled with how to pay rising annual lease payments to the MT Department of Natural Resources Conservation to operate Big Arm State Park. By law, DNRC is required to charge 5% of assessed property value for an annual lease of State Trust Lands to generate revenue for Montana’s school system. State Parks could no longer afford the annual lease payments as property values on Flathead Lake have dramatically increased in the past decades. By securing the funds to purchase a permanent recreational easement at the park, MT FWP can ensure access to Big Arm State Park and Flathead Lake in perpetuity.

Senate Bill 24: Sponsored by Terry Gauthier: Provides a modest increase in the optional Light Motor Vehicle registration fee that benefits State Parks, Fishing Access Sites, Historic Preservation, and trails-based recreation across Montana. The optional fee currently provides nearly 40% of the annual operating revenue that State Parks rely on. A modest increase of $3 per vehicle will still allow Montanan’s to access one of the largest state parks systems in the country (55 Parks) and 332 Fishing Access Sites without having to worry about paying fees at the park while also providing beneficial funds for trails and historic preservation.

Senate Bill 70: Sponsored by Pat Flowers: Removes Missouri Headwaters State Park from the “primitive parks” designation. Removing Missouri Headwaters from the “primitive parks” list is a critical first step in allowing Park Managers to be more proactive in managing the growing demand for recreational opportunities, addressing environmental impacts, complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and ensuring historic preservation at the park.

Senate Bill 338: Sponsored by Terry Gauthier: Provides funding for construction of the Montana Heritage Center, the new home for your Montana ­Historical Society. After the Montana Heritage Center is completed in 2025, 6.5% of the 1% bed-tax increase passed as a part of this bill would go to State Parks to provide critical funding for park maintenance, staffing, and visitor services.

The Montana State Parks Foundation worked closely with our partners at Montana State Parks and other non-profit organizations to support the passage of these bills. We would like to thank all of our partners, supporters, and bill sponsors for their hard work and leadership to help our Parks. However, we couldn’t have done it without you, the people who use and love our state parks and choose to help by donating to the Foundation. Thank you for your support. Here’s looking forward to a great year and a bright future for Montana’s State Parks.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Pirogue Island State Park

This week’s focus takes us to just a mile north of Miles City, Montana, a little more than two hours from Billings, Montana by way of Interstate94, on the north side of a bend in the Yellowstone River, to Pirogue Island State Park. In addition to extensive hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing, the island is a documented site where the Corps of Discovery and Capt. Clark camped in 1806 on the return voyage of their famous expedition. This week’s Parks Showcase is brought to you by the Miles City Chamber of Commerce.

An isolated, cottonwood-covered island located on the Yellowstone River, Pirogue Island State Park is an excellent location for enjoying the natural beauty of Montana. While wading through channels of the Yellowstone River is the most popular way to get to Pirogue Island, others stop by as they float down the river.

Did you know?
Pirogue Island State Park is 500 miles from where the Yellowstone River begins south of Yellowstone National Park and 170 miles from where it ends near Williston, North Dakota.

You won’t find any camping at Pirogue Island, but you can go:

✅ Bird Watching or Wildlife Viewing

✅ Boating

✅ Fishing

✅ Hunting

✅ Picnicking

✅ Plus so much more!

A local treasure with a wide variety of bird species including Passerines belted kingfishers, shorebirds, waterfowl, and bald eagles as well as both whitetail and mule deer, the island is an excellent location for wildlife viewing.

The island also boasts prominent plant life with more than 140 species of plants including a healthy population of cottonwood trees, peach-leaf willow, green ash, and red-osier dogwood.

For visitors who enjoy hiking, Pirogue Island features 2.8 miles of designated hiking trails with interpretive signs offering insights into the history and wildlife of the island.

Looking for more than 2.8 miles? You’re in luck!

As a very level site, visitors will find an easy walk throughout the 269 acres and when the water isn’t flowing, visitors can take a walk along the tree-shaded side channels and wade through the pools of water that form during hot weather.

DID YOU KNOW?

Enjoy a treasure hunt? Pirogue Island is a great location to search for moss agates.

Moss agates are a unique agate that is often found with a lime coloring and gets its name for its resemblance to the color of moss, which was given to it prior to its scientific name and has stuck.

Curious what other visitors had to say?

“Good spot for hunting and fishing.”

“Growing up in this area I never discovered this until I went back and visited. There is a great trail (about 6 miles) that takes you all around the park and next to the river.”

“I love the walking trail and having the chance to see wildlife.”

“This state park is in a very interesting setting. It is an island in the Yellowstone River outside of Miles City, MT. There are picnic tables and restrooms and interesting trails to walk beside walking over to the island when the water is low. This is a great place to go with a family when the weather is nice. Springtime would not be good, the water would be too high to reach the island.”

***Note: Pirogue Island State Park is not formally developed and care should be taken when crossing. Crossing to Pirogue State Park is not recommended if water is flowing. And due to the seasonal flooding, come prepared to protect yourself from ticks.

Pirogue Island
State Park
Quick Facts

Park
Open Year-Round
7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Location

46.44181 / -105.82253
(Latitude/Longitude)

Open Year-Round
269 Acres

Pets Allowed

Toilets (Vault)

Maps

Grills/Fire Rings

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Pirogue Island State Park?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Lone Pine State Park

This week’s focus takes us to just outside of Kalispell, Montana to Lone Pine State Park. With 7.5 miles of trails for hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and horseback riding it also boast breathtaking overlooks, where you can see Flathead LakeWhitefish Mountain ResortJewel Basin – Montana, and Glacier National Park on clear days. This week’s park feature is sponsored by Western Montana’s Glacier Country.

Located near Kalispell, Lone Pine State Park provides incredible views of the Flathead Valley, as well as year-round and wide-ranging outdoor recreation activities.

Originally owned as part of a large sheep ranch by Ernest and Hazel White, in 1941 the White’s donated the land that now makes up Lone Pine State Park, for public use and education. The Whites stipulated that the land be developed for public use and to teach an appreciation for the benefits of conservation.

Did you know?
Does Lone Pine host extensive educational and recreation opportunities throughout the year? In the next month alone, events range from fly tying to avalanche awareness to birding and snowshoeing. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for more listings.

Add to your itinerary today – click for park coordinates!

Looking for activities at Lone Pine? You’ll find:

✅ Archery

✅ Bird Watching/Wildlife Viewing

✅ Cross Country Skiing

✅ Hiking

✅ Horseback Riding

✅ Horseshoes

✅ Mountain Biking

✅ Snowshoeing

✅ Plus so many more!

The visitor center has a gift shop and provides visitors with highlights of the wildlife and forest ecology of the park.

A great spot for meetings or social gatherings (can host up to 100 people), the visitor center has a spacious meeting room with audio/visual capabilities and wrap-around decks!

7.5 miles of trails can accommodate short or long hikes where you’ll find great views of wildflowers and local wildlife.

Snowshoe rentals are available for $5 per person or $10 per family during the winter months.

With adult workshops, children’s activities, and interpretive programs throughout the year, Lone Pine State Park is an ideal stop for field trips, out-of-state visitors, or Montana residents interested in learning more about northwestern Montana.

DID YOU KNOW?

You wouldn’t know from looking around the heavily forested Lone Pine today, but when the land was originally donated, there were barely a handful of trees.

At one of the main overlooks, there was a single pine growing out of a cliff and this tree gave the park its name. Although this “lone pine” is no longer standing, a plaque now marks its location.
Curious what other visitors had to say?

“Good easy access. Close to Kalispell. Easy hikes, great scenery. Wear comfortable shoes, no need for special equipment.”

“You can park at the lower gate, around the corner in the upper lot, or drive-by Foy’s Lake and take the main entrance to the top (ample parking and handicap accessible). Not only does Lone Pine have an abundance of trails for all abilities, but it has a great Visitors Center at the top as well. The staff is very knowledgeable about plants, wildlife, and other hiking opportunities in the Valley. A great place to walk your dog, view the city, or have a picnic!”

“Lots of fun and lots of wildlife. I recommend going out early before it gets too hot and the wildlife enters the woods to lay down.”

“Lone Pine is pet-friendly and has excellent educational programs, well-maintained trails, guided hikes, and special youth programs. We have attended programs on wild raptors/rehab and release after injury and on the Karelian Bear Dogs. It is also right on the way to the hidden Foy’s Lake, just slightly below it to the northwest.

At Foy’s Lake (a County maintained park) you can also enjoy swimming, boating (no rentals, just your own), fishing (the lake is stocked yearly with trout) or have a picnic. Ice fishing in Winter. In Summer Lone Pine is also near the Herron Park Equestrian Park and its trails.

Just a few of the other things you can do at Lone Pine: Take the Archery trail, bird watching, cross-country ski/snowshoe in winter, play horseshoes, mountain bike, Take panoramic photos, Have a picnic, or go for a run.”

Lone Pine State Park
Quick Facts

Park
Park
Open Year-Round
8 a.m. to Sunset

Visitor Center
Open Year-Round
Wednesday – Saturday
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday
12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Closed Thanksgiving,
December 24, 25 & 31 and
January 1

Location
300 Lone Pine Road
Kalispell, MT 59901

Open Year-Round
270 Acres
ADA Accessible
Pets Allowed
Toilets (Flush & Vault)
Water Gift Shop
Visitor Center

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Lone Pine State Park?

In the last year, the Foundation helped fund new visitor information kiosks throughout the park as well as helped to pay for educational supplies, things like radar detectors, for classes on bats that Lone Pine features in the summer months.

And it’s supporters just like you that helped make all this work possible.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Fort Owen State Park

This week’s focus takes us to 25 minutes south of Missoula, Montana, and into Stevensville, Montana to Fort Owen State Park. Here you will find the remains of the oldest pioneer settlement in the State of Montana. Fort Owen State Park is open year-round and offers us a glimpse into the history of early Montana where many “firsts” occurred: – first sawmill, first grist mill, first agricultural development, first water right, and first land transaction. Fort Owen State Park is supported by the Friends of Fort Owen. Be sure to check out local events that they sponsor throughout the year.

Just south of Missoula near Stevensville, you will find the remains of one of the most historically important sites in Montana, Fort Owen State Park. Originally home to the first Catholic Church in Montana, founded by Father DeSmet in 1841, Fort Owen has a rich history and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places – NPS.

Did you know?
During its peak, the only structures larger than Fort Owen were located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, or Salt Lake City, Utah?!

In 1850, Major John Owen arrived in the Bitterroot Valley Montana, and purchased the (about to be abandoned) mission and transformed it into a trading post which he named Fort Owen. Owen began trading with Native Americans and a growing number of early settlers in the area, making Fort Owen an important trading hub for Western Montana.

With tall, whitewashed walls, the fort stood out from the surrounding landscape like a beacon to those looking for supplies. Fort Owen was the heart of this early community, where John Owen and his beloved Shoshone wife Nancy, not only sold supplies but provided a place of warmth and hospitality to all those who visited.

Things to do:

✅ Check out the museum!

✅ Enjoy a picnic!

✅ Capture the historical significance through photography!

✅ Visit nearby Stevensville and the St. Mary’s Mission.

✅ Plus so many more!

Fort Owen served as an important trading hub for Western Montana for over 20 years. However, when the Mullan Road was built in 1863, connecting Fort Benton, Montana to Walla Walla, Washington, it became the main transportation route and bypassed Fort Owen, going north through Missoula instead.

Fort Owen became less regionally important as Missoula became the focus of trade in Western
Montana. When Nancy Owen died in 1868, John Owen’s mental health began to decline along with his financial success.

Eventually, John’s deteriorating mental health lead to the financial collapse of the trading post. In 1872, Washington McCormick purchased the buildings and grist mill at a Sheriff’s sale. Diagnosed with dementia, John Owen was moved back to the East Coast to live out the rest of his life with his relatives where he passed away in 1889. Oddly, while repairing a roof at Fort Owen, Washington McCormick was killed that same year after the roof he was repairing was blown off in a violent summer storm.

After this the property and buildings of the fort passed through many hands, one acre surrounding the remains of the fort was given to the Fort Owen Historical Association in 1937. In 1956 they conveyed it to the state of Montana for one dollar.

Did you know that prior to becoming Fort Owen, the buildings and farm fields purchased by
John Owen, had been developed by Catholic Missionaries who established the community of Stevensville to minister to the Salish Indians in their homeland of the Bitterroot Valley?

In addition to its many firsts, it also was the first recorded land transaction in Montana and contains the oldest constructed buildings in the State of Montana.

Today you can tour one of the barracks that served as John Owen’s home and library, see the outline of the fort’s walls, a reconstructed root cellar, the well’s house, and a historic cabin. The rooms in the east barracks feature period furnishings and artifacts and visitors will find interpretive signs and exhibits which detail the region’s history.

When visiting, be aware that the property surrounding Fort Owen State Park is privately owned, please respect these property owners and stay within the park boundaries. Due to limited parking and turnaround space, vehicle towing trailers are not recommended.

While Fort Owen is open year-round, the staff are only there on occasion so be prepared for a self-guided experience!

Fort Owen State Park
Quick Facts

Park
Open Year-Round
From 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Location
99 Fort Owen Ranch Rd
Stevensville, MT 59870

1 Acre

Pets Allowed

Toilet (Vault)

Interpretive Displays

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Fort Owen State Park?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Weekly Parks Showcase:

Your Weekly Showcase of Montana State Parks

This week’s focus takes us to an hour outside of Missoula, Montana near Seeley Lake, Montana to Placid Lake State Park. Placid Lake State Park is open year-round with extensive outdoor recreation options in the summer months, including fishing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking – just to name a few. This week’s park showcase is sponsored by Visit Missoula!

Located near Seeley Lake and Salmon Lake State Park, you’ll find Placid Lake State Park.

Did you know?
Placid Lake State Park is actually named for New York’s Lake Placid!

Found on a tributary of the Clearwater River, Placid Lake State Park is an excellent choice for families and adventurers alike. Add to your itinerary today – click for park coordinates!

✅ Enjoy a picnic by the lake.

✅ Challenge your friends or family to a game of volleyball or horseshoes.

✅ Spend the day on the water boating or swimming.

✅ Take in a beautiful sunset over the lake.

✅ Go on a hike around the lake.

✅ Plus so much more!

Lake Placid State Park is a great option if you’re looking to camp! With 40 campsites and recently added showers and laundry facilities, this state park provides a taste of the great outdoors without having to stray too far from the comforts of home.

With over 40,000 visitors each summer, Placid Lake State Park is one of the busiest state parks.

The forest around the lake was once in logging territory and what were once roads used to haul trees and equipment are now used as hiking and mountain biking trails. You can learn more about the history of the area through the interpretive panels along the trails.

Planning to bring your boat? You can rent a boat slip on a first-come, first-serve basis.

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know the Montana State Parks Foundation’s specialty license plate is a painting of this state park by Missoula artist, Monte Dolack, entitled “Placid Lake Sunset”?

And that every dollar from license plate sales helps to fund the Foundation’s work and is available at your local DMV anywhere in the state.

Placid Lake State Park
Quick Facts

Park
Off-Season Hours
December 1 – April 30
Closed to all motorized traffic, walk-in only.
Day-use only, no overnight camping.

Peak Season Hours
May 22 – November 30
7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Campground
Open Year-Round

Location
5001 N. Placid Lake Road
Seeley Lake, MT 59868
Open Year-Round

Open Year-Round

31 Acres

ADA Accessible

Pets Allowed

Toilets (Flush & Vault)

Shower

RV Hookups

Water

Electricity

Maps

Boat Launch

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Placid Lake State Park?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

P.S. The Montana State Parks Foundation would like to say thank you to all the generous donors who made charitable gifts during our 2018 End of Year Giving Campaign. Your support makes a real difference for Montana State Parks by funding on the ground projects to enhance the visitor experience at parks. You can learn more about past projects and our plans for 2019 on our website:

www.montanastateparksfoundation.org/projects/

Weekly Parks Showcase: Chief Plenty Coups State Park

This week’s focus takes us to 40 minutes south of Billings, Montana near Pryor, Montana, to Chief Plenty Coups State Park. Chief Plenty Coups State Park and Home are named for the last traditional chief of the Crow Nation, Chief Plenty Coups (Aleek-chea-ahoosh, meaning “many achievements”). Plenty Coups was a man of war – and then a man of peace – whose vision has helped bridge a gap between two cultures. Recognized for his bravery and leadership, he was made chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe by age 28. This week’s park showcase is sponsored by Visit Billings.

Did you know?
Chief Plenty Coups was a well-known statesman and ambassador, he knew several U.S. Presidents and met many foreign leaders during his life.

Chief Plenty Coups is remembered for helping to bridge the divide between Native American people and white settlers during a time when the Native American people were being coerced into giving up their traditional ways.

Through the Indian Allotment Act, Chief Plenty Coups received an allotment of land which included a sacred spring, something that Plenty Coups envisioned as a young man, and became one of the first Apsáalooke to own and settle on a farm.

On his land, Chief Plenty Coups built a log home, began farming, and eventually opened a general store.

You won’t find camping at Chief Plenty Coups State Park, but you will find a day’s worth of activities! Add to your itinerary today – click for park coordinates!

You can:

✅ Hike the ¾ mile trail around the grounds and near the creek.

✅ Take in the beauty and serenity while enjoying lunch in the picnic area.

✅ Bird watching.

✅ Learn more about Chief Plenty Coups’ life and Native American culture at the visitor center.

✅ Have a fishing license? Try and catch a fish in the creek!

✅ Plus many more!

While traveling to Washington, District of Columbia., Plenty Coups toured George Washington’s Mount Vernon and was struck by the idea of a national monument open to all.

In 1932, at age 84, Chief Plenty Coups passed away, and at his and his wife, Strikes the Iron’s, request, a portion of their homestead was made into a state park which eventually grew to 195 acres for all people to visit and learn from and still operates as such today!

DID YOU KNOW?

At the burial of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in 1921, Chief Plenty Coups attended as a representative of all the Indian Nations.

While the ceremony commenced, Chief Plenty Coups placed his headdress and two coups stick on the tomb in honor of the fallen soldiers.

The headdress and coups sticks can still be seen today on display in the Virginia cemetery.

Quick Facts

Park Winter Hours
3rd Sunday of September to 3rd Friday of May:
Open Wednesday – Sunday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Park Summer Hours
3rd Saturday of May to 3rd Monday of September:
Open Daily 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Visitor Center & Chief’s House
Winter Hours
3rd Sunday of September to 3rd Friday of May:
Open Wednesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Summer Hours
3rd Saturday of May to 3rd Monday of September:
Open Daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on all federal and state holidays except
Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day. Park also closed on December 24th and 31st.

Location
1 Edgar/Pryor Road
Pryor, MT 59066
Open Year-Round

Open Year-Round

ADA Accessible

Pets Allowed

National Historic Landmark

Toilets (Flush)

Visitor Center

Gift Shop

Maps

Playground

Picnicking

Hiking

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Chief Plenty Coups State Park?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

P.S. The Montana State Parks Foundation would like to say thank you to all the generous donors who made charitable gifts during our 2018 End of Year Giving Campaign. Your support makes a real difference for Montana State Parks by funding on the ground projects to enhance the visitor experience at parks.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Brush Lake State Park

This week’s focus takes us to Dagmar, Montana only 54 miles from Williston, North Dakota, and only 150 Regina, Saskatchewan, to the only state park in the northeast corner of Montana, Montana’s 50th state park, Brush Lake State Park. Brush Lake is a deep lake (65 feet) in a closed basin and the site of National Science Foundation (NSF) research on climate change. The lake boasts 45 feet of sediments showcasing 10,000 years of pollen and mineral depositing helping to tell the story of climate, and its changes, since the Ice Age.

Did you know?
Brush Lake State Park is 280-acres and its water quality is theorized to be more ocean-like than fresh water-like – making it an ideal swimming location in the summer months.

Both deep and incredibly clear, Brush Lake’s beaches are surrounded by grass fields and spring wheat during the summer.

Things to do:

✅ Hoping to camp? You can do so in one of the 12 campsites!

✅ Take a hike and go bird-watching along the shore.

✅ Public swimming access is on the northeast part of the lake where the day-use area is also located.

✅ Utilize the boat launch and take your boat, canoe, or kayak out for a day on the water.

✅ Have a picnic on the beach!

✅ Plus so much more!

Due to its close proximity to Canada, during Prohibition liquor was easy to come by and kept the Brush Lake Summer Resort in business. There was also a dance hall!

After the Prohibition era, church and scout groups used the lake, but in the years before it became a state park, Brush Lake wasn’t the popular destination it once had been.

Today the area where the dance hall once stood on the south side of the lake, is now privately held.

In Eastern Montana, it is not uncommon to see the Aurora Borealis during solar events, especially during the fall and winter.

Brush Lake’s northern latitude and remote location make it a “stellar” destination for your next stargazing or northern lights viewing adventure. In fact, it has been designated as an official Dark Sky Viewing Area.

DID YOU KNOW?

Because of the high alkali content, Brush Lake does not support a significant fish population. But in contrast, it showcases a distinctive aquamarine blue color.

How to Get There:

Brush Lake State Park is located 31 miles south of Plentywood, Montana. From Montana Highway 16 go east on Highway 258 for 16.5 miles, turn south on Brush Lake County Road, proceed one mile.

Let’s get outside!

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Brush Lake State Park?
As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Cooney State Park

our Weekly Showcase of Montana State Parks

This week’s focus takes us between Billings, Montana and Red Lodge, Montana to Cooney State Park. With 2 miles of trails (we’ve even heard rumors of a future project that wraps around the entire reservoir), Cooney State Park offers great views and a wide variety of outdoor activities that won’t fail to impress.

These weekly parks feature series are brought to you by Visit Billings. Billings, Montana’s Trailhead

Did you know?

Cooney State Park is just 40 minutes south of Billings and offers year-round access and activities.

Planning a stop? You’ll find:

Summer Activities

✅ Boating

✅ Camping

✅ Water Skiing

✅ Wakeboarding

✅ Swimming

✅ Hiking

✅ Fishing

✅ Tubing

Winter Activities

✅ Cross-country skiing

✅ Skating

✅ Ice fishing!

✅ Plus so much more!

Not only does the park have a gorgeous reservoir, but it has a view of the Beartooth Mountains 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!

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

Local Tips When Visiting Cooney
* The waterfront sites are truly waterfront (I stayed in Marshalls Cove) – a great place to bring a Kayak. There are also electric sites available. You will need to drive about 1 mile on gravel, wash-boarded road to get to Marshalls Cove. Longer if you want to get to the other campgrounds that comprise Cooney Dam Reservoir. The place has a spirit of adventure about it. Phone service is limited to Fisherman’s point – about 1 mile from Marshalls Cove. We camped at Cooney State Park in a Fifth Wheel.

* Great jet ski and boating reservoir. Sunny skies and fun location in the shadow of snow-covered mountains.

* Love this place. Go early if you wanna beat the crowds.

* Great lake and close to Billings. Just a little fishing tip use leeches.

* Stayed for a week in June it was packed during the weekend and pretty much empty during the week. There is no cell phone (unless you have a booster) and no wi-fi. The place was clean and the people friendly. The gravel pad was mostly level. We camped at Cooney State Park in a Motorhome.

Cooney State Park Quick Facts
———————————————————-

Park
Open Year-Round

Campground
Open Year-Round

Location
86 Lake Shore Road
Roberts, MT 59070

Day Use Area Open Year-Round
———————————————————-
* Open Year-Round
* 309 Acres
* ADA Accessible
* Pets Allowed
* Water
* Toilets (Flush & Vault)
* Boat Launch & Docks
* Playground

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Cooney State Park?
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As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park

This week’s focus takes us near Big Timber, Montana – approximately 100 miles outside of Yellowstone National Park and on interstate 90 between Bozeman, Montana, and Billings, Montana. As one of Montana’s few state parks named after the animal namesake it’s working to protect, you’ll find this experience to be as much about the location as the “locals” (or maybe more so).

Located just off the interstate in Southcentral Montana, Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park is the perfect stop on a family road trip.

Greycliff is protected and preserved through the joint efforts of Montana State Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and the Montana Department of Transportation.

Did you know?

Prairie dogs have an important ecological significance. They create habitats that provide prey, shelter, and forage for many animals, including black-footed ferrets, burrowing owls, and mountain plovers.

Planning a stop? You’ll find:

✅ A picnic area conveniently located at the entrance of the park, but remember, do NOT feed the prairie dogs! These are still wild animals whose diet is specifically adapted to natural food NOT human food.

✅ Interpretive displays help visitors to understand prairie dogs and the role they play in our ecosystem.

✅ The landscape makes for beautiful photography.

✅ Wildlife runs abound here, see how many different creatures you can spot!

✅ Plus so much more!

Prairie dogs are very talkative and are known to have at least 11 different calls.

Black-tailed prairie dogs typically dig 15 to 40 burrow entrances per acre, which means in the 98-acre state park, there are between 1,470-3,920 burrow entrances!

These prairie dogs build a complex burrow, which can be up to seven feet deep and 25 feet long, and includes a listening chamber, dry chamber, regular chamber, and toilet, all of which serve different functions.

DID YOU KNOW?

The black-tailed prairie dog is only one of five different species of prairie dogs.
Within the Greycliff colony, the prairie dogs have a “coterie” which is like a prairie dog family.

Each coterie consists of an adult male, three adult females, and their offspring under two years old.

If you’re planning to visit, you’re more likely to see these active creatures on a mild winter or summer day as they tend to hide when it’s too cold or hot.

Let’s get outside!

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you.

As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Weekly Parks Showcase: Ackley Lake State Park

Your Weekly Showcase of Montana State Parks

This week’s focus takes us near Lewistown, Montana – right in the heart of Montana’s Big Sky Country. The surrounding mountains and rich agricultural areas inspired renowned Western artist Charlie Russell whose works can be seen at the nearby Charles M. Russell Center in Great Falls, Montana, a hundred years ago.

Just southwest of Hobson, Montana, you’ll find Ackley Lake State Park. Surrounded by the Little Belt Mountains and Snowy Mountains, Ackley Lake State Park is an incredibly beautiful destination.

Did you know?

The water in Ackley Lake comes from the Judith River and is stockpiled for irrigation use.
Planning a visit? Take a look at all you can do at Ackley Lake!

✅ Love to fish? You’re in luck! The lake is stocked with Rainbow Trout.

✅ Spend your day on the water boating or water skiing. Two boat launches ensure you won’t be waiting long to get your boat in the water.

✅ Enjoy your picnic with amazing views.

✅ Don’t forget your binoculars if you plan to do any bird watching!

✅ Lounge in the sun on the beach and take a dip to cool off!

✅ Spend a winter day ice fishing or snowshoeing around the lake!

✅ Search for crayfish and aquatic insects in the shallow areas along the shore!

✅ Camp at one of the rustic campsites near the lake!

✅ Plus so much more!

How Does the Foundation Help State Parks Like Ackley Lake?

As Montana State Parks’ only statewide fundraising partner, the Foundation helps to raise awareness, education, and most importantly support boots-on-the-ground improvement projects for users and supporters like you. As an agency faced with a $22 million maintenance deficit, our work and collaboration help to ensure continued access and solutions currently inside our state park system.

Because in the end, we envision state parks that reflect Montana’s renowned outdoor recreation and heritage for all… forever.

Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Ackley Lake Club whose hard work and commitment to Ackley Lake State Park have helped ensure continued access and great experiences for thousands of Ackley Lake visitors.

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