Water-Based Parks

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

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"

 

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Ackley Lake State Park 2

Ackley Lake State Park

Ackley Lake State Park

Ackley Lake State Park

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

Ackley Lake is nestled right in the heart of Montana's Big Sky Country. One glimpse and you'll easily understand how the beautiful views of the surrounding Little Belt and Snowy Mountains and rich agricultural land captured the heart of the legendary Western artist, Charlie Russell, a hundred years ago.

Today, the diverse water recreation opportunities at this 290-acre park include fishing, boating, picnicking and camping.

Stocked with rainbow trout, the lake is often good angling for 10 to 15-inch fish. Ackley Lake has 15 first-come-first-served campsites (cannot be reserved), and two boat launches.

On a warm summer day, enjoy the cool waters of Ackley Lake on Montana's open plains!

If you visit Ackley State Park in the winter, you’ll find a small village of ice huts filled with ice fishers!

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Looking to camp?

Ackley Lake has 15 sites all of which have fire rings and picnic tables, 12 sites also have shelters covering the picnic tables!

New campsites will be opening very soon!

The Ackley Lake Fishing Club in Lewistown is very active in the park. Check them out on their Facebook page.

Yogo Sapphire mine is nearby in Little Belt Mountains. The Yogo Sapphire is a beautiful blue sapphire that maintains it's brilliance even under artificial light. You can find out more about them on Wikipedia.

Visiting the area? The Oxen Yoke Inn, in nearby Utica serves one of the best burgers in the state. Read more about it here!

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?

"Beautiful, spacious, peaceful and fun!"

"It's beautiful here & I heard the fishing is good."

"The only state park in the middle of MT. Nice cottonwoods surround good size lake. Camp spots on the far side are more private and shaded in the afternoon. Beautiful prairie views."

 

"It is a fun place to hang out for the weekend. Great for fishing year-round."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    989 Ackley Lake Road Hobson, MT 59452