Cultural Parks

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

The location of the Battle of Rosebud, is an incredible and historical location that shouldn’t be missed!

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The Park History

One of the largest battles of the Indian Wars, the Battle of Rosebud, or “Where the Girl Saved Her Brother” as referred to by the Northern Cheyenne, lasted for eight hours. Because Crook’s troops had been withdrawn from the war zone in order to resupply, they were not there to support Colonel Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn one week later.

The battlefield is still used throughout the year by U.S. Armed Forces to study military strategy, including how troops take on an enemy who is familiar with the landscape.

The park includes Kobold Buffalo Jump, a cliff once used by Native Americans and marked with petroglyphs. A short hike within the gap to the cliffs will allow you to see these.

The use of metal detectors, digging and the collecting or removal of artifacts is restricted and bikes are allowed on existing roadways only. Be very cautious while in the park as rattlesnakes reside in the area!

Although camping isn’t available at Rosebud Battlefield, there is camping available at Tongue River Reservoir State Park only 13 miles south.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Cultural
  • Heritage
  • Hiking
  • History
  • Hunting
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Brochures
  • Interpretive Display
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Tables
  • Pack-in/Pack-out
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Trash Cans
  • Water
  • Plus so much more!

Rosebud Battlefield is one of the most undeveloped, pristine battlefields in the nation. While looking for the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne villages of Chief Sitting Bull, Brigadier General George Cook, along with 1000 troops and Crow and Shoshone scouts, were unprepared for an organized attack.

On June 17, 1876, an equal or greater number of warriors led by Sioux Chief Crazy Horse and Cheyenne Chiefs Two Moon, Young Two Moons, and Spotted Wolf, attacked the band of soldiers.

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

"What a unique piece of Montana history! The story of the young Cheyenne woman saving her brother against the US Army happened here."

"Great experience. Largest battle in the Indian wars. Very interesting presentation."

"This is the battle that preceded the battle of little big horn by a few days and would have saved Custer if it did not happen. A must see!"

"This is part of our western history few people know of. It was over looked becsuse of Custers actions eight days later."

 

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    Park

    Open all year/Day Use Only

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    Location

    42 HC Busby, MT 59016

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

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Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park

Pirogue Island State Park just a mile north of Miles City, Montana, a little more than two hours from Billings, Montana by way of Interstate 94, and on the north side of a bend in the Yellowstone River.

In addition to extensive hiking, birding, and wildlife viewing, the island is a possible site where the Corps of Discovery and Capt. Clark camped in 1806 on the return voyage of their famous expedition.

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Looking to hike?

For visitors who enjoy hiking, Pirogue Island features 2.8 miles of designated hiking trails with interpretive signs offering insights on 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.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Hunting (shotgun or bow)
  • Lewis and Clark Expedition tracking
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Grills/Fire Rings
  • 269 Acres
  • Interpretive Display
  • Maps
  • Pets Allowed
  • Pack-in/Pack-out
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Plus so much more!

The island 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.

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.

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.

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

"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."

"Good spot for hunting and fishing"

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

"Great place to view"

 

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    Park

    Day use only

    Open year-round, 7 am to 10 pm.

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    Location

    Miles City, MT 59301

    Travel north on 59N to the Kinsey Rd/Hwy 489.
    Turn right and follow for 2 miles to the turnoff for Pirogue Island State Park.
    Parking and amenities are at the end of the road.

Pirogue Island State Park

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Pictograph Cave State Park

Pictograph Cave State Park

Pictograph Cave State Park

Pictograph Cave State Park lies just outside of Billings, MT. This park features three caves that are preserved and protected in the 23-acre state park.

Along the rimrocks, you'll find where Pictograph Cave has drawn human beings for over 3,000 years and was home to generations of prehistoric hunters.

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Looking to camp?

With its abundant wildlife and vegetation, the fertile Yellowstone River valley just north of the park provided an ideal campsite for travelers. Inside the three caves at the park, you can find over 2,100-year-old pictographs from some of Montana's first inhabitants.

When and how these inhabitants arrived is still a mystery and the pictographs they left behind are still subject to great debate.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Transport yourself back in time by exploring the caves
  • Check out the Visitor Center and learn more about the history of the caves.
  • Eat your picnic while gazing out at incredible views.
  • Don’t forget to pick up a memento from the gift shop!
  • See if you can spot any wildlife near the caves.

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open Year-Round
  • 23 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Water
  • Maps
  • Gift Shop
  • Interpretive Display
  • Plus so much more!

Due to its archeological significance, Pictograph Cave State Park was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1964. Thousands of years ago, prehistoric hunters who camped in the Pictograph Cave left behind artifacts and over 100 pictographs. The oldest art found at Pictograph Cave State Park is over 2,000 years old and from some of the very first humans on the plains.

The three main caves in the park - Pictograph, Middle, and Ghost - were created from the Eagle sandstone cliff by water and wind erosion. The deepest of the caves, Pictograph Cave, is 160 feet wide and 45 feet deep. In 1936 the first artifacts and paintings were discovered in the caves. Roughly 30,000 artifacts were excavated from the site including, stone tools, weapons, paintings, and instruments. These artifacts helped researchers understand which native people used the caves and when.

In addition to tools and animal bones, the excavations also turned up jewelry, pendants, bracelets, and beads crafted of seashells acquired from Pacific Coast Indians, and in one excavation, researchers discovered barbed harpoon points of the Eskimo culture, made of caribou horn.

At the Park today, you'll see pictographs depicting animals, warriors, and even rifles! The different colors used in the pictographs allowed researchers to identify when people inhabited the region and gave an inside look into their lifestyle. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to bring your binoculars to get the best view of the rock art and be sure to check out the Visitor’s Center which includes interpretive displays and a gift shop.

Depending on the season you can see mountain lions, black bears, turkeys, coyotes, porcupines, red-tailed hawks, golden eagles, bald eagles, northern harriers, bobcats, mountain cottontails, rock doves, turkey vultures, mule deer, canyon wrens, magpies, ravens, crows, and chickadees.

The best time to see the pictographs is after rain or snowmelt! The moisture causes the drawings to become more prominent. And you'll give yourself about an hour to walk the trail with extra time for a picnic and bird watching.

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

"Great place to spend a couple hours, lots of history and dog-friendly. Even in March, it’s a beautiful place to go. Could hear the cracking of the ice on the Yellowstone while looking at the caves."

"Be aware, if you are not from Montana, that you need to be snake smart as this is a habitat for rattlesnakes. Watch where you step and leave them alone if you see one and they will leave you alone."

"Really enjoyed this cave Included the Indian Heritage couple of steep climbs but overall a good walking experience."

"Went here with my kids, great staff and charming volunteers. Nicely laid out park, but I was most struck by realizing that I was standing in a spot that has been inhabited for over 10,000 years. Artifacts from this spot are twice the age of the Great Pyramids of Giza."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Park Off Season (Third Monday in September - Third Thursday in May)

    Open Wednesday - Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Peak Season (Third Friday in May - Third Sunday in September)

    Park Open Daily 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

    Visitor Center

    Off-Season

    Open Wednesday - Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Peak Season

    Open Daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

    Additional Information

    Park and Visitor Center Closed:

    Thanksgiving, December 24, 25 & 31 and January 1

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    Location

    3401 Coburn Road Billings, MT 59101

Pictograph Cave State Park

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Travelers’ Rest State Park

Traveler’s Rest State Park

Travelers’ Rest State Park

Both a state park and a National Historic Landmark, Travelers’ Rest is filled with historical significance. In 2001 the land that Travelers’ Rest State Park resides on was donated to the State of Montana.

After an archeological investigation in 2002, it was discovered that this location was used as a campsite by Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery on two occasions, first from September 9-11 in 1805 and then again the year after from June 30-July 3 in 1806.

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Interested in the history of the park?

During the archeological investigation of the site, archeologists discovered a trench latrine tainted with mercury (a common prescription for many ailments used by the Corps of Discovery), hearths and traces of lead (used in the repair and making of firearms).

The way the camp was set up also led the archeologists to believe that this was the campsite of the Corps of Discovery. The placement of the hearths, latrines and other aspects of the camp were taken from a military manual Lewis & Clark were known to have relied on.

The trace elements in the lead found at the campsite were traced back to elements in Kentucky where Lewis & Clark would have likely gotten their lead! The items found paired with the setup of the camp allowed investigators to come to the conclusion that this was, indeed, the campsite of Lewis & Clark.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • The park may be called Travelers’ Rest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active! Take a hike along Lolo Creek.
  • Learn more about Native American culture from Native storytellers who bring their history and culture to all as part of the programming at Travelers’ Rest.
  • Western Montana is a great place to fish and Travelers’ Rest is no exception! Try your hand at stream or fly fishing in Lolo Creek.
  • History buff? Spend some time in the museum where you’ll find Lewis & Clark Expedition replicas, Salish cultural exhibits, Native American handcrafts, a frontier Main Street and much more!
  • Have a large group? There is a pavilion available to rent! Simply contact the park to make a reservation. Phone: 406-273-4253 Email: lflynn2@mt.gov
  • Looking to enjoy the wildlife? Go bird watching to see how many of the 115 recorded species you can find!
  • Plus so much more!

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open Year-Round
  • 51 acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Water
  • Tours
  • Maps
  • Gift Shop
  • Wedding Facilities
  • Children's Activities
  • Plus, so much more!

Travelers’ Rest was also used by Native American tribes in the area. The Salish, Pend d’Oreille and Nez Perce used the area as a campsite and trail junction.

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

"Wonderful state park with great historical significance regarding Lewis and Clark journey of discovery and marvelous natural beauty. If you are near, do not miss this delightful park. Make time for the informatics museum and fun short hikes. I look forward to coming back."

"The kids were brought out here every year by their school, it was always fun and informative of the days gone by. They have Lewis and Clark artifacts that were found on-site for viewing and then some things, just from the era, both give you a nice perspective of how things used to be. The kids and I live close so it's always just a nice place to come hike around check out the creek. It's a great place also for taking photos. I've taken a lot of family photos in this area for people."

"If you're traveling through it's pretty cool place to stop and get educated on the Lewis and Clark travels."

"Great historical park of Lewis and Clark and native Indian camp. Go and walk their trails and learn about their camp. The exhibit at the travelers rest museum is excellent to see their tools, camp life, cooking, wild edibles, and friends. Our family was here for an afternoon and really enjoyed the experience. "

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Closed Thanksgiving Day & December 25

    Visitor Center 
    Winter Hours September 4 - May 1: Wednesday - Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Closed Thanksgiving Day, November 25, December 24 & 25 and January 1

    Summer Hours May 2 - September 2: Open Daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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    Location

    6717 Highway 12 W Lolo, MT 59847

Travelers’ Rest State Park

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Tower Rock State Park

Tower Rock State Park

Tower Rock State Park

Tower Rock, a 424-foot high rock formation which marks the entrance to the Missouri River Canyon in the Adel Mountains Volcanic Field.

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Want to learn more about the park?

Visitors can learn about geology and history through five interpretive panels located at the trailhead. The trail to the base of the saddle is maintained for a quarter-mile and if you plan to hike this short trail, be sure to keep your eyes open and listen for rattlesnakes!

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Open Year-Round

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 140 Acres
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Maps
  • Plus so many more!

This day use only park was once used by Native American tribes to mark the entrance to and exit of the buffalo hunting grounds in north central Montana.

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

"The maintained portion of the trail was fabulous. If you go further be sure you have a map from all trails. We couldn't quite figure out the summit, but we had a lovely time. The views are incredible and my 8 and 10 year olds loved it. The pup was exhausted, but he did well, too. Perfect hike near the Missouri River!"

"Great scenery, excellent place for a small hike."

"It is majestic. Volcanic origins. I found seashells when I sat down on the trail and touched the dirt I was sitting on. Makes you think."

"Love hiking Tower Rock. Beautiful scenery!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    2325 Old US HWY 91 Cascade, MT 59421

Tower Rock State Park

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Missouri Headwaters State Park

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Missouri Headwaters State Park is just outside of Three Forks downtown and only 35 minutes outside of Bozeman. The convergence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin rivers is the start of the longest river in North America, the Missouri River.  Considered an essential part of the geography of the western U.S.

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Things to do:

Just outside of Three Forks, you’ll find Missouri Headwaters State Park, the confluence of the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers which form the 2,300 mile Missouri River.

At Missouri Headwaters State Park, you can still find the area looking much as it did historically - with much of the region's abundant wildlife, vegetation, and scenic beauty preserved - making it clear what has attracted people for thousands of years.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Looking to camp in history? There are 17 campsites available and you can even rent a tipi!
  • Interpretive displays describing the area’s cultural and natural history can be found to help guide you!
  • Take your bike for a spin on the many trails throughout the park!
  • Not much of a biker? Use the trails for a scenic hike instead!
  • Take a float down the river, you’ll have your choice of three!
  • Visit Fort Rock to take a look at historic pictographs. 

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open Year-Round
  • 532 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Water
  • Boat Launch
  • Maps
  • Interpretive Display
  • Plus so much more!

The three rivers that converge to form the Missouri River are named for President Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State James Madison and Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin!

The rich, fertile soil along with the proximity to fresh water, brought the Flathead, Bannock and Shoshone Indians to the region and later trappers and settlers, and now this beautiful land has been preserved as a state park for visitors just like you. 

Known for an abundance of wildlife, Missouri Headwaters State Park is a great place to explore, but don’t forget your bug spray! 

In addition to its vast natural resources and outdoor activities, Missouri Headwaters State Park also boasts extensive cultural history - ranging from the tribes that lived there beginning 3,000 years ago to Lewis and Clark to fur traders to settlers.

In late July 1805, William Clark and a small number from the Corps of Discovery reached the Headwaters while scouting for Shoshone Indians, whom they hoped would sell them horses. It was Sacajawea, who recognized the area as where she was captured as a child by the Hidatsa, that led the expedition successfully there.

While at the confluence, Clark left a note for Meriwether Lewis to find and later, Lewis Rock was named for him.

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

"Very interesting spot to see three rivers come together to make the start of the Missouri River."

"Great campground and great camp host! Paul is awesome and hilarious! He also recommended good fishing spots and filled us in on the local moose population, (phone pics included!) This area is spectacular for bird watching, fishing, hiking and taking in some informative L&C history. Restrooms were spotless and smelled nothing like a vault toilet. Even enjoyed a lightning storm on our last night to wrap it all up. Great entertainment! We’ll probably be back in the fall with our little retro trailer for more fishing, exploring and dry-camping."

"We made a spur of the moment trip with 5 other couples from the Bitterroot Valley . Arrived and were met by the campground host, who was not only a character, but had this park and facilities absolutely spit- shined! The "Dogs on leash" rule is strictly enforced, but makes for a more enjoyable stay for all. My two Labradors liked the Host and the camping. Highly recommend."

"Quiet evening to enjoy the view. Be sure and climb up Fort Rock and enjoy the vistas from a little higher up. Easy walk up."

 

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Missouri Headwaters State Park

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Granite Ghost Town State Park

Granite Ghost Town State Park

Granite Ghost Town State Park

Once a thriving 1890s silver boomtown, Granite Ghost Town State Park, is exactly what its name suggests, the remains of a mining town from the 1800s. In 1865, Hector Horton discovered silver in the area and in the autumn of 1872, the Granite mine was discovered by a prospector named Holland. The mine was relocated in 1875.

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Things to do:

Permits are required for some activities.

Prepare for a steep and windy drive to Granite from Phillipsburg. The road gains 1,280 feet in elevation and you may need to pull over for oncoming traffic, but you’ll have a beautiful view!

Only a few buildings still remain, but the main street of Granite was once bustling with saloons, a newspaper office, rooming houses, and restaurants. The state park preserves the Granite Mine Superintendent’s house and the ruins of the old miners’ Union Hall, both of which are included in the Historic American Buildings Survey. 

Be sure to take some time to hike the web of trails that lead to old homes and other ruins in the area while you’re here!

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • History
  • Photography
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Plus more!

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Pack-in/pack-out

This is one of the best ghost camps in all of Montana. At one point the Granite mine was the richest silver mine on the earth, and it might never have been discovered if a telegram from the east hadn't been delayed. The mine's backers thought the venture was hopeless and ordered an end to its operation, but the last blast, on the last shift uncovered a bonanza, which yielded $40,000,000 in silver.

In the silver panic of 1893, word came to shut the mine down. The mine was deserted for three years, never again would it reach the population it once had of over 3,000 miners.
Today there is no one living in the camp. The shell of the Miners' Union Hall still stands. The roof supports have caved to the bottom floor, the third-floor dance hall, second-floor union offices, and ground-floor saloon/cafe are about to collapse together. The company hospital still stands.

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

"Follow Granite Road which leads directly to the park. There is a sign on Granite Road where you need to turn that says "Granite Road, Ghost Town 4 Miles". Follow that sign and you're on the right path. The road is rough, but a car can make it if you drive carefully. Plenty of one lane areas where two vehicles can not pass.

"I really enjoy spending the day in the mountains. Seeing an old mining ghost town was a big bonus."

"Very cool late 19th century mining town. Lots of stone foundations and a couple buildings still almost intact. The inginuity of our forefathers as well as the massive amount of labor displayed around this old mine is impressive. The taling piles are gargantuan and the mill foundation looks like some old building in Europe."

"Took my hubby and dog on an adventure to this incredible piece of history! We went on a snowy, cold autumn day but it was so worth it! There are some building still standing, many that are only partial, but a lot of neat mining history, and the granite ghost walk trail is great and takes you through just about everything there is to see. The road up is a bit rough, but cars can make it. Overall, it was awesome to explore a bit of Montana history from 200 years ago and to see what is still standing."

 

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    Park

    • Season 5/1 - 9/30 
    • Daylight Hours Only
    • Reservations Not Accepted

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    Location

    347 Granite Road Phillipsburg, MT 59858

Granite Ghost Town State Park

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Fort Owen State Park

Fort Owen State Park

Fort Owen State Park

Fort Owen State Park is approximately 25 minutes south of Missoula, MT and into Stevensville, MT. Here you will find the remains of the oldest pioneer settlement in the State of Montana.

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Wanting to visit?

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, vehicles 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!

Be sure to check out local events that they sponsor throughout the year.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Check out the museum!
  • Capture the historical significance through photography!
  • Enjoy your picnic with amazing views.
  • Don’t forget your binoculars if you plan to do any wildlife and bird watching!
  • Visit the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife refuge just down the road.
  • Visit nearby Stevensville and the St. Mary’s Mission.

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 1-Acre
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Interpretive Displays
  • Plus so much 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 to Walla Walla, Washington, it became the main transportation route and bypassed Fort Owen, going north through Missoula instead. This property has 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.

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-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.

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

"Wonderful Place. Every One Must Go."

"Nice historical monument. Nicely kept."

"What a neat little place full of Montana history. We stopped in to see Fort Owen State Park while we were in the Stevensville area visiting. It’s not a big place so you won’t spend much time here. There are some good lessons in history walking through the buildings."

"Lots of information. Great for families. Lots of information without over doing it. Informative and fun."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    From 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

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    Location

    99 Fort Owen Ranch Rd Stevensville, MT 59870

Parks That Others Are Visiting

Fort Owen State Park

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First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

Located South of Great Falls and just outside of Ulm, First Peoples Buffalo Jump is one of the largest buffalo jumps in the United States and is known in the archeology community as the most significant buffalo jump in the world! Evidence suggests that this site, also known as the Ulm Pishkin, may have been the most frequently used buffalo jump in the world.

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Park history

A 6,000 square foot Visitor Center helps to pay homage to both the buffalo and the Native American’s who honor it. Inside you’ll find buffalo culture exhibits, a circle for storytelling, a classroom, a gallery, and a bookstore!

Outside the Visitor Center are an outdoor amphitheater and even a few traditional games playing fields. The cliffsides now offer up amazing views to visitors from all over the world.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Bow Hunting
  • Education
  • Exhibit
  • Hiking
  • History
  • Museum
  • Nature
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Sightseeing
  • Upland Bird Hunting
  • Visitor Center
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • ADA Accessible
  • Children's Activities
  • Gift Shop
  • Interpretive Display
  • Maps
  • National Historic Landmark
  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Public Restroom
  • Toilets (Flush)
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Trash Removal
  • Plus so much more!

At the base of the cliff, you can see 18 feet of compact buffalo remains, but it can be difficult to make out distinct items like skulls or other bones after so many years. The original name of the park “Ulm Pishkin” comes from the Blackfeet word "Pis'kun," meaning "deep kettle of blood”. The mile-long cliff ranges from 30 to 50 feet in height, any higher and meat may have been damaged and unusable. Of the over 300 buffalo kill sites in Montana, First Peoples Buffalo Jump is one of only three that are protected.

Native tribes would stampede herds of bison off the cliff and collect the remains below. Bison meat served as a main staple in the early Native American diets of the region. While this form of hunting was very popular and safe compared to the alternatives it was not the most common.

Ambush killing, where the hunters would sneak up to the animal before attacking, was the most frequent way for them to provide food, tools, and clothing to their families. It was very dangerous due to the size and strength of the animal. Because of this many of these sites are considered sacred. Ambush hunting became less and less utilized as the horse came onto the scene, allowing hunters to keep pace with the bison and guide them more effectively to sites like this and eventually as they began breeding horses even the buffalo jump became obsolete. Giving way to mounted hunters who could chase, kill, and carry back the precious remains.

The most accepted theory as to the use of “Buffalo Jumps” has the hunters slowly encircling the herds and pushing them towards the area. It could take hours if not days and was very dangerous.

As the herds would draw closer and closer to the cliffs they would be guided to a specific spot by others using low fences made of twisted vines and large rocks. These “Drive Lines” can still be found today. They extended sometimes over a quarter of a mile away.

Once the Buffalo had reached their holding spot the hunters would approach, sometimes wearing wolf pelts and sneaking on all fours, and when the time was right they would jump up shouting and making loud noises creating a stampede.

The fastest and bravest of the hunters, called “Buffalo-Runners” would dance in front of the herds leading them over the cliff. Often jumping to a safe spot just below the ledge.

After the herd had gone over or dispersed the women, children, and elders would move through the aftermath killing any that may have survived and then processing and harvesting as much of the animal as possible.

Plan to spend at least two hours at First Peoples Buffalo Jump to make time for the many activities!

*Notice!: Due to recent world-wide events Visitors Centers, Regional Offices, Ranger Stations, Campgrounds, and other facilities including many restrooms are now closed to the public. MT FWP is monitoring the situation and making changes to their policy on a rolling two week basis.

Years after the area was settled it became a cattle ranch and eventually mining area. Eventually, in the 1950s the bone itself began to be mined before a local rancher named Earl Monroe leased the land to protect it from further destruction.

Earl kept the land off-limits to the public while under his care. The land went through many hands and many legal battles over the years before finally coming under the protection of the state in the late ‘90s and becoming a full-fledged state park in the year 2000.

 

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

"The museum itself was extremely neat and clean. It's a small establishment that you can tour yourself - which I LOVED! The 2 guides were helpful and answered any questions that we had regarding the jump. I would absolutely suggest this place to anyone visiting the Great Falls area."

"What a piece of history we knew nothing about. Fascinating and then taking the drive to the cliffs I couldn't imagine running ahead of a herd of buffalo and at the last minute jumping over the edge to safety. This park is definitely worth a visit. Make the time."

"Great history and amazing views of the valley. A great 1 mile hike up to the buffalo jump cliff, or take the road around the other side of you don't want to hike it. Restroom is available in the visitors building and near the cliff."

"What a great place to see. It is so peaceful and tranquil. I enjoyed it so very much."

 

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    Park

    Summer - open daily.
    Winter - open Wednesday through Sunday.

    Summer Hours 
    Visitor Center and Upper Access Area:
    4/15 - 9/16: 8 am - 6 pm daily

    Winter Hours
    Visitor Center and Upper Access Area:
    9/17 - 3/31 10 am - 4 pm Wed - Sat
    and 12 pm - 4 pm Sun.
    Closed Monday & Tuesday

    The gates at the top of the Jump may be closed during times of deep snow.

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    Location

    342 Ulm -Vaughn Rd. Ulm, MT 59485

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park

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