Water

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

Frenchtown Pond State Park 1

Frenchtown Pond State Park

Frenchtown Pond State Park

Frenchtown Pond State Park

Located about ten miles northwest of Missoula, MT Frenchtown Pond State Park is a 41 acre, day-use recreational area where you can swim, boat, and fish. The pond itself is a natural spring-fed lake with a maximum depth of about 18 feet.

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Looking to fish?

A variety of fish including; sunfish, bass, and bullhead provide fair catches throughout the year. Frenchtown Pond State Park is also a favorite place for visitors to practice stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling.

Frenchtown Pond became a state park in 1972. They often host local events for youth and families.

The Frenchtown area was settled by French-Canadian settlers in 1858 after being pushed out of their original settlements by political unrest in the west.

The area was given the name by American (USA) settlers based on the ethnicity and language of the settlers. Currently, fewer than 2000 people reside in the area (US Census, 2010).

The area is home to many scattered ghost towns which fell when the local mining boom cooled off. Most notable of these ghost towns is Hellgate. The first major settlement. The land was rich with gold and fur. The valley lined with timber.

The area flourished and is considered to be the home of the first (state-legal) wedding of white-American settlers in the state of Montana (1862) and the birthplace of the first white-American "Montanan" earlier that same year. Before this, the area was predominately French-Canadian and Native American, which frequently intermarried and settled in the area north of Frenchtown in what is now the Flathead Indian reservation, home to the Bitterroot Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreilles tribes (also known as the "Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation").

Hellgate became a rough and tumble kind of place and was frequently ravaged by the infamous Henry Plummer Gang. Vigilantes roamed wild dispensing sudden and violent "justice" whenever they felt it necessary.

The area became so notorious that when a scuffle with some of the Pend d'Oreilles tribe led to the death of a prospector, the tribe forced the chief to surrender his son (who led the group involved in the scuffle). After a very brief trial, the boy was hung in town.

As the area prospered, trade moved southeast towards what is now Missoula, MT. Camels were often used to transport goods between the two places.

The town fell to ruin almost overnight as people packed up and moved south to the more economically stable Missoula, which acquired the county seat from Hellgate in 1865 a mere ten years after its official settlement and only five short years from when Hellgate was granted the title.

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

"Great state park super well maintained, clean bathrooms and a rinsing station"

"I wish I lived close to this park! A Montana resident pays nothing and out of state was a whopping $6.00. What value. We took a gaggle of kids swimming and had hours of fun. Please go enjoy this little gem! Swim, kayak, paddle board, fish, walk or picnic."

"Such a lovely state park with a dandy playground. Then we went down to the pond. The kids went swimming. We saw others with kayaks. It was so pleasant to eat a picnic lunch there. I would return."

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    Park

    Day use only
    No camping
    Open all year
    5/1 - 9/30: 9am - 9pm
    10/1 - 4/30: 6am -7pm

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    Location

    18401 Frenchtown Frontage Road Frenchtown, MT 59834

Finley Point State Park 1

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.

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

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    Campground

    Open May 1 to September 30

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    Location

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

Council Grove State Park 6

Council Grove State Park

Council Grove State Park

Council Grove State Park

Council Grove State Park marks the site of the 1855 council between Superintendent of Indian Affairs and Territorial Governor of Washington, Isaac Stevens and members of the Flathead, Kootenai, and Pend d'Oreille Nations.

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The park is designated as a primitive park meaning that further development is prohibited. There is no visitor center, camping or staff at this location.

Vehicle size is limited to passenger vehicles.

It was at this site that Chief Victor of the Bitterroot Salish eventually marked an "X" on the treaty documents prepared by Stevens and his contingent. The Bitterroot Salish and their leader believed that they would not be required to leave the Bitterroot Valley as a result of the treaty signed at the 1855 Council. It would be 15 years before agents from the US government came to enforce provisions of the treaty requiring the Bitterroot Salish to relocate to the Mission Valley.

The area is now a quiet, serene state park. It is large enough at 187 acres for a nice walk or to find a quiet place next to the river for a picnic. The park is limited to day-use only activities with a handful of on-site amenities including vault toilets, picnic tables, drinking water, hiking trails, and ADA accessible facilities.

This park contains large, old-growth ponderosa pines, grassy meadows by the park picnic area, and large cottonwoods along the Clark Fork. There's also an aspen grove fed by a vernal pool (a shallow depression in clay-like soil that fills with water seasonally) and make great breeding habitat for frogs and salamanders.

The Hellgate Treaty between the United States government and the Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille Native Americans which created the Flathead Reservation was signed here on July 16, 1855. A monument in the park marks the location where the treaty was signed. 

Council Grove allows you to experience a feeling of solitude amongst the large, old-growth ponderosa pines, grassy fields, and cottonwood trees along the Clark Fork River. Many people come to the park for biking and hiking and even as a great place to fish, swim, and hunt in the right season. 

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

"Beautiful park & very family friendly! Dogs are also aloud on leash. There is room for everyone to enjoy on the rocky/beachy area. Must check out if visiting Missoula Montana."

"Nice place for an easy stroll along the Clark Fork amongst the ponderosa pine."

"Clean and quiet. Nice to walk with my dogs."

"Good birdwatching; I osprey, hummingbirds, owls, occasionally see hawks and eagles."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    11249 Mullan Road
    Missoula, MT 59808

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

Brush Lake State Park

Brush Lake State Park

Brush Lake State Park

Brush Lake State Park

Brush Lake State Park is the only state park in the northeast corner of Montana.

Brush Lake is a deep lake (65 feet) in a closed basin and the site of National Science Foundation 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.

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Looking to camp?

Brush Lake State Park is 280-acres and its water quality is theorized to be more ocean-like than freshwater 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.

  • 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. As a dark sky location, Brush Lake is guaranteed to bring some of the best night sky views in the area.

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. The lake attracts many varieties of birds including various species of ducks, gulls, and many others. Brush Lake has become a great location for bird watchers worldwide.

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

"Just on weekdays enjoy the beauty of this lake! I liked when you reach there no network service so really enjoy your time , clean water nice for swimming and have fun with kids."

"Lake was nice and clean."

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    Day Use

    7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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    Campground

    Open May 1 - November 1

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    Location

    1733 Brush Lake Road
    Dagmar, MT 59219

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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Big Arm State Park

Big Arm State Park

Big Arm State Park

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

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

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

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Looking to camp?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Beautiful place. Clear lake. Friendly people"

 

Parks That Others Are Visiting

Beavertail Hill State Park 1

Beavertail Hill State Park

Beavertail Hill State Park

Beavertail Hill State Park

This park has a one-half mile of Clark Fork River frontage that provides fishing and floating opportunities. Boating is carry-in only. There are 24 developed campsites and 2 tipi rentals.

There is a walking nature trail through a thick canopy of cottonwood trees that takes about an hour from start to finish. The park has an elevation of 3,615 feet and is 65 acres. RV and trailer units have a limit size of 28 feet. 

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Beavertail Hill is one of Montana's busiest state parks based on the number of nights people camped at the park.

During the summer, free interpretive programs are hosted in the amphitheater on Saturday evenings.

Park Rangers and other outdoor professionals use these programs to teach park visitors about the history, geography, geology, and other nature-based topics throughout the summer months.

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

"First time staying here. Great little campground. Well maintained. Hosts were very pleasant and helpful. Will be staying here again in the future."

"Spent one night and enjoyed our stay. Sites were level and very large with tree-privacy. We spotted 17 bird species, elk and ground hogs."

"What a beautiful, secluded camp ground on the river! We just stopped in to have a picnic lunch. It is only a half mile from I-90, but it is so quiet!"

"Tipi rental was very clean, functioning and authentic. Dogs must be on a leash but there are fully functioning bathrooms and readily accessible potable water. Plenty of memories were made and we will definitely do this again."

 

"Nice quiet place to take a hike, or you can go camping or go fishing in the river."

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    Park

    Peak Season

    May 1 through October 31

    Open 24/7

    Off-Season

    November 1 through April 30

    Day use only

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    Campground

    Open May 1st through October 31st

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    Location

    29895 Bonita Station Road
    Clinton, MT 59825

Parks That Others Are Visiting