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Wayfarers State Park 2

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.

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.

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    Campground

    Closed

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    Water and Shower House

    Available May through September.

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    Dock

    Contact park for availability.
    Dock 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

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. 

The park offers two tours: The Classic Tour which visits the majority of the developed cave but is physically challenging, and The Paradise tour that 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.

Tickets are limited.

Get in touch with the park for more information. 

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.

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 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.

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

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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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Hell Creek State Park Dock

Hell Creek State Park

Hell Creek State Park

Hell Creek State Park

About an hour outside of Jordan, MT is the most heavily fished water in Montana, Hell Creek State Park. You'll reach Hell Creek, near the end of a 25-mile-long gravel road, through the spectacular scenery of the Missouri Breaks landscape.

On the Hell Creek Arm of Fort Peck Lake, this park provides facilities for most water sports as well as excellent walleye fishing. Fort Peck boasts 1,500 miles of lake shoreline (longer than the entire California coast) and features the surrounding hills of the C. M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the Missouri Breaks.  

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Things to do:

Located on the Hell Creek Arm of Fort Peck Lake, you’ll find excellent facilities for water sports as well as a bounty of walleye, lake trout, northern pike, and small-mouth bass to fish. Plus, there is a fish cleaning station.

Hell Creek Marina, a private marina located within the park, offers bait, groceries, gas and other camping and fishing equipment.

The park also serves as a launching point for boat camping in the wild and scenic Missouri Breaks.

Hell Creek State Park offers 71 campsites, 44 of which have electrical hookups. A group facility is available to reserve for special events

Looking for a hike? You’ll find plenty of trails throughout Hell Creek State Park including the 1 ½ mile loop Mule Deer Trail and the Paleo Trail.

The Paleo Trail is a 3-mile roundtrip hike into the Hellcreek Formation, known for its dinosaur fossils.

Hunting enthusiasts will find their fun at Hell Creek as well! Depending on the season, you’ll find hunting for antelope, elk, mule and white-tailed deer.

  • Spend your day on the water boating, water skiing or windsurfing!
  • Summer? Fish from the shore or out on the water!
  • Winter? Go ice fishing!
  • Lounge by the lake and take swim!
  • Hike through the rugged hills surrounding the park!

Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery encountered a grizzly bear near here in 1805.

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

"One of the best places to make memories. Clint and Layne awesome people and truly know their stuff."

"This place is beautiful and refreshing. We barely saw any people around when we visited but saw a herd of deer. It was something to remember by. You can see a beautiful sunset if you go there during evening. The lake and surrounding park is mesmerizing."

"Awesome place to use as a launching pad for adventures in a very remote corner of the world."

"Always a great place to visit. Just you and nature, can't beat it. Plus boat rentals if needed. Great camp sites and a nice bathroom with showers. Clint and Deb and the others are great people and take great pride in the marina, campground, the cabins and their guests. Love to visit every year!!!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Campground

    Open Year-Round​

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    Park Office

    Open May 15 - October 1

    8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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    Additional Information

    No potable water before May 15 or after October 1​

Giant Springs State Parks

Giant Springs State Park

Giant Springs State Park

Giant Springs State Park

Located just outside of Great Falls lies Giant Springs State Park.

Originally discovered by Lewis & Clark in 1805, Giant Springs is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country.

Come marvel at this day-use park's remarkable features and view the variety of birdlife. Take part in their special events, picnic by the Missouri River, visit the fish hatchery and visitor center, walk along the Rivers Edge Trail, view the nearby Rainbow Falls overlook, or visit the neighboring Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

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Things to do:

The spring flows at a rate of 156 million gallons of water per day and is always 54 degrees Fahrenheit! Multiple bridges cross the crystal clear water the makes up Giant Springs, allowing visitors to peer in and see the growing vegetation and even an occasional fish!

While you won’t find any camping at Giant Springs State Park, you won’t find the park lacking in activities! The Roe River (also found in Giant Springs State Park) was once listed in the Guinness Book for World Records as the world’s shortest river!

  • Visit the fish hatchery and visitor center.
  • Take a walk on the Rivers Edge Trail.
  • Go on a hike along the many trails hugging the Missouri River.
  • Take in the Rainbow Falls at the overlook.
  • Visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, located nearby and operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

The water found in Giant Springs comes from the Madison Aquifer under the Little Belt Mountains. Because the water stays around 54 degrees year-round, Giant Springs State Park is great to visit regardless of the season!

In the winter, the steam rises off of the unfrozen water and birds flock around the warm water, while in the summer, the park is, on average, 20 degrees cooler than the nearby city of Great Falls.

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

"Absolutley beautiful place top visit. Especially during spring and summer time. Trail access is easy from here and is a must see for anyone paying through or visiting."

"This is by far the best park in Great Falls and has a lot of good history posted around the park. There is a very clear natural spring, a playground for the kids, lots of barbecues and picnic areas. Just don't leave a mess like some of the tourists do.. throw your trash away and keep this place looking nice."

"Turned out to be a great Sunday to visit the park. Sun was shining, no wind, 38 degrees out but it felt great. Picnickers we're about. Nice "museum" for the hatchery. Got to feed some really big rainbow trout."

"This is a must see attraction if you visit Great Falls. The trout hatchery, the kids pond, the amazing views, and excellent fishing right from the park. We had our engagement photos done here as well. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day."

 

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    Park

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

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    Location

    4803 Giant Springs Road Great Falls, MT 59405

Parks That Others Are Visiting

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

Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Chief Plenty Coups State Park

Chief Plenty Coups State Park is 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. 

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?

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!

  • 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!

 

While traveling to Washington D.C., Plenty Coups toured George Washington's estate, 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!

At the burial of the unknown soldier at Arlington 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 sticks 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. 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.

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

"We stopped to eat lunch here. Peaceful place to be. Well taken care of and a lot of pride goes into it."

"Helpful and friendly rangers. Nice historic buildings. Good walking. Beautiful surroundings. Natural spring."

"Friendly museum worker and very informative info about the Chief and his tribe. Nice and easy scenic walk around the grounds."

"It was our first time here and it was truly an emotional experience. So much history to read and the photo books to look through were amazing!! Definitely recommend!"

 

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    Park

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

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    Visitor Center & Chief’s House

    Winter Hours
    3rd Sunday of September - 3rd Friday of May:
    Open Wednesday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    3rd Saturday of May - 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 December 24th and 31st. 

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