Cultural Parks

Elkhorn State Park 3

Elkhorn State Park

Elkhorn State Park

Elkhorn State Park

Traveling along gravel secondary roads outside of Boulder, you’ll find the once thriving town of Elkhorn, now one of the smallest state parks in the state.

 

 

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These roads take you through a 19th-century mining landscape before you reach historic Fraternity Hall and Gillian Hall nestled within the privately-owned town of Elkhorn. Bring your camera to record these two picturesque structures from the late 1800's silver-mining ghost town, preserved as outstanding examples of frontier architecture. Each has been recorded in the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Three-quarters of a mile up the main road that runs through town (just outside of the state park property) lies the town cemetery where visitors can see the tombstone of Swiss miner Peter Wys who originally discovered the silver veins in the Elkhorn Mine!

Rich with mineral deposits (including silver), the Boulder Batholith originally drew settlers to the area and led to the establishment of Elkhorn in 1868, now a silver-mining ghost town. The 1880s and 1890s were the most populous times for Elkhorn, drawing around 2,500 residents at its peak, but after the Silver Crash of 1893, the town saw a drop of 75 percent of its population in just two months. In total, the Elkhorn Mine yielded about $14 million in silver.

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

"Beautiful Town! Really neat old ghost town and mining artifacts. There are only a few buildings you can go into, but lots of history around town! The wood water tower has be repaired. I highly recommend checking out the cemetery, pretty sad story. Plenty of parking all over."

"Ghost town with sad cemetary interesting ghost town with private homes located around the buildings. There are two buildings in restored condition and other buildings scattered throughout untouched. Went further afield to the cemetery located on the hillside. Sad, unkempt and scattered tombs and plaques tell the story of the deaths of children during an epidemic."

"Lots of interesting old Stone and wood buildings give you a taste of the town that must have been grand. Check out the historic and protected Fraternity Hall. Be sure to walk up the hill to the cemetery. Monuments range from grand to crumbling wooden markers. Especially poignant are the many, many graves of children who died in the 1888-9 diphtheria epidemic."

"It still remains as one of the most well-preserved buildings in the town. Later, Elkhorn's prosperity wanted as the demand for silver decreased. When railroad service to Elkhorn was halted, most of the inhabitants left. Today, Elkhorn is a Montana State Park."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round, Pack-In/Pack-Out

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    Location

    812 Elkhorn Street Elkhorn, MT

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

Clark's Lookout State Park 4

Clark’s Lookout State Park

Clark's Lookout State Park

Clark’s Lookout State Park

Clark's Lookout State Park is located one mile north of Dillon, above the Beaverhead River.

Established December 23, 1985, Clark's Lookout is set along the historic Lewis and Clark trail.

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Looking to camp?

On August 13, 1805, Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery found what is now Clark’s Lookout State Park. Having traveled from the headwaters of the Missouri River and up the Jefferson River to continue their search for a passage to the Pacific Ocean, they found instead an incredible view.

The view from the top of the hill provided Lewis & Clark and the Corps of Discovery with a view of what lay ahead. And William Clark worked to explore and document the hill overlooking the Beaverhead River.

  • Take a walk to the monument and gaze out over the land once surveyed by William Clark.
  • Have a picnic at the perfectly located picnic area.
  • Take a hike through the rest of the 7.23 acres via hiking trails with interpretive signs.
  • Cultural and Heritage information provided on site.
  • Check out all of the local wildlife including bird watching.
  • Photographic opportunities abound.
  • Plus so many more!

Interpretive signs help to explain the navigational methods used by the Corps of Discovery.

A short hike to the top of the lookout provides an incredible view of the Beaverhead Valley.

You’ll also find a granite monument shaped like a compass which displays the three compass readings Clark took in 1805! The compass monument’s design came from a small pocket compass Clark carried during the expedition!

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

"Fun! I love history. Didn't know this was there until we drove by."

"Great place to stop for a walk and see a historic sight."

"Picturesque views."

"Nice place to stop for a short walk up a path to some beautiful views."

 

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    Park

    May 1 - October 31 Open 8 am to dusk

    November 1 - April 30 Winter gate closure in effect, walk-in access only.

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    Location

    25 Clark’s Lookout Road
    Dillon, MT 59725 Park

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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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Beaverhead Rock Hero

Beaverhead Rock State Park

Beaverhead Rock State Park

Beaverhead Rock State Park

Beaverhead Rock can be viewed and photographed from a distance, but cannot be directly accessed.

There are two great locations to best see the rock formation, though. The first is 14 miles south of Twin Bridges on Highway 41 where a pull-off has informational signs and an interesting bird sculpture.

The second location is from another Montana State Park, Clark’s Lookout State Park in Dillon.

Beaverhead Rock, also known as Point of Rocks, is a rock formation overlooking the Beaverhead River and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

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Sacagawea, a young Shoshone Indian guide traveling with the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, recognized this rock formation and knew that she may be in the vicinity of her relatives. The sighting gave the expedition hope that they may be able to find Native peoples from which to acquire horses for their trip across the mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Meriwether Lewis, August 8, 1805 wrote: "The Indian woman recognized the point of a high plain to our right which she informed us was not very distant from the summer retreat of her nation on a river beyond the mountains which runs to the west. This hill she says her nation calls the beaver's head from a conceived resemblance of its figure to the head of that animal. She assures us that we shall either find her people on this river or on the river immediately west of its source; which from its present size cannot be very distant."

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

"It is relatively unchanged since Lewis and Clark described it, in spite of attempts to do so"

"Beautiful wetlands and good fishing nearby!"

"So much fun and it's pretty."

"Beautiful!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    62 Beaverhead Rock Road Twin Bridges, MT 59754

Bannack State Park 2

Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park is the location of Montana's first major gold discovery, founded in 1862 this historic ghost town still has over 50 standing buildings!

Find out more about the history of the park down below.

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Tours are conducted from the visitor center, which is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Bannack Days, with historic displays, re-enactors, and activities, are held the 3rd weekend annually in July (Bannack days has been cancelled for 2020).

The campground has 28 sites, including a rental tipi located along Grasshopper Creek, a hike-in/bike-in campsite, with four tent pads, and a group picnic site.

Bannack State Park is a National Historic Landmark and the site of Montana's first major gold discovery on July 28, 1862. This strike set off a massive gold rush that swelled Bannack's population to over 3,000 by 1863.

As the value of gold steadily dwindled, Bannack's bustling population was slowly lost. Over 50 buildings line Main Street; their historic log and frame structures recall Montana's formative years.

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

"This was a great Ghost town. So many buildings to explore and go into. Well worth the drive and a day trip."

"Very interesting!! Crazy these buildings are still standing. Would have paid for a guided tour to explain everything."

"One of the best ghost towns I've been to. Most buildings are open and you can go in them."

"Didn't find any ghosts, but had a great, informative evening tour. Fun, well-preserved town with interesting stories of the wild west and life in a gold boom town. And when it gets dark, the starry sky is mesmerizing."

 

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"Bannack is a beautiful area that holds so much Montana history. I always find it fascinating to see how people lived in that era, how much we take for granted, and just how tough and hardy they had to be back then."

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    Park

    Open all year.

    Summer Hours: June 8 - Sept 30, 2020 8 am - 9 pm. Winter Hours: Oct 1, 2019 - June 7, 2020 8 am - 5 pm.

    Closed December 24 & 25.

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    Campground

    Open all year.

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    Potable Water

    Available summer season.

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    Visitor Center

    Open June 3, 2020 - Labor Day. 10 am - 6 pm.

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    Location

    721 Bannack Rd Dillon, MT

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Anaconda Smelter Stack State Park 1

Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park

Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park is located off of I-90, 24 miles from Butte, MT.

Situated on top on a hillside of the Anaconda Pintler Mountain Range foothills, you can see this state park from miles around.

As a monument to the nation's period of industrialism, particularly when viewed in conjunction with Butte’s Berkely Pit, it immortalizes the scale of the mining that once dominated and influenced this part of Montana.

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Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the smelter closed in 1980.  In 1983, the stack, the smelter, and the other buildings nearby were listed as a Superfund cleanup site.  Efforts to clean up contaminated soils, structures, and other mine debris began in the 1980s and are ongoing.  In order to protect the public and limit their liability, the Atlantic Richfield Company closed the area around the stack and public visitation is allowed only during officially organized tours or events.

Much like the smelter and other buildings that used to be located on Smelter Hill nearby, the smokestack was likely to be demolished as part of the Superfund cleanup efforts.  A group of longtime Anaconda residents formed the "Anacondans To Preserve The Stack" committee.  Their efforts led to the preservation of the big stack and they continue to work to find ways to preserve the stack and make it accessible to the public.  Today visitors can view and photograph the stack from a distance.

Interpretive signs describing the history of the stack are located in the viewing site near Goodman Park. 

Montana Public Radio produced a great story about the Anaconda Smoke Stack for its 100th anniversary in August of 2018.  You can listen to and read that story here.

 

The Anaconda Smoke Stack is taller than the Washington Monument by 30 feet. In fact, the Washington Monument would easily fit inside this smokestack.

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

"Cool town to drive through. Tower is visible for miles from Highway..so we had to check it out on drive back through."

"Worth the stop. Very well done."

"Nicely done. Very interesting, worth a look and reading about the stack."

"Great History of Anaconda and Butte when Mining was heavy in this area, Learned a lot more than I knew. Definitely worth visiting Anaconda area."

 

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"The very essence of what the town of Anaconda was and is! Great interpretive signs and a mock circumference of the stack showing you just how big it really is! Must see"

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