Day-Use Only

Somers Beach State Park

Somers Beach State Park

Somers Beach State Park

Over the past decade, the Sliter family and the Montana State Parks Foundation have been working together to conserve and create public access at their property east of Somers, encompassing almost a half-mile of Flathead Lake shoreline.

This rare property has an expansive sandy beach at low lake levels, and at higher lake levels, its shallow waters provide a safe area for families to swim and recreate.

It also has impressive beauty with views of the Swan Mountains and miles of undeveloped shoreline.

Montana’s newest state park has been proposed for this spectacular site.

Somers Beach State Park

The Sliter Family generously promised a $100k matching grant for the creation of our newest state park, totaling to $200,000!

Along with our matching grant, Everit and Nikki Sliter have made a pledge of $25k, raising our match requirement to $125k, with an overall total of $250,000 if we make our match!

Although much of the north shore is public land, as part of the Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area, the WPA is closed to human use between March and July each year to protect migrating and nesting birds.

The park opened in the summer of 2021. Minimal amenities will be available at first but your donations and support will help us build a great park from the ground up. In the meantime, please understand that the park remains private until the final real estate sale is complete. We'll continue to post updates on our website and social media pages, so stay tuned.

We couldn't have done it without you! Locals submitted over 250 letters showing overwhelming support for the property to become a future state park.

Although Flathead Lake is the largest freshwater lake in the western U.S., there are currently only 13 public access sites along its 185 miles of shoreline.

As a state park, these public lands will help permanently conserve wildlife habitat while continuing to allow public recreation.

Please consider donating to the park today or becoming a sponsor of a featured park email.

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

“In order to protect this special place from future private development, conserve the wetlands and bird habitat, and secure much needed new public access on Flathead Lake, we feel a state park offers our best opportunity to do so." - Paul Travis, Executive Director of Flathead Land Trust

“Our family’s long-term intention for this special property has been to find a solution that conserves the shoreline and offers safe public access." - Andrea Sliter Goudge

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    Park

    Closed March - July to human use 

Maria’s River State Park

Marias River State Park

Marias River State Park

To get to there from I-15, take exit 358 and head east on Marias Valley Road North for 3.5 miles. Then turn west on Hjartarson Road and travel for 10.2 miles, then turn south for 2.5 miles.

This 5,845-acre property, a combination of state park, and wildlife management area was established May 1, 2009. The site includes an undeveloped 14-mile stretch of the Marias River, as well as sagebrush, grassland, and short grass prairie habitats in the uplands.

Non-motorized access only. Respect private property, do not trespass. Rules prevent discharge of weapons except for lawful hunting during established hunting seasons. Pack it in and pack it out. No facilities offered at this time.

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The Marias River flows through the Wildlife Management Area for 13 miles.

When FWP bought the land, officials believed an existing road on the east side of the WMA would provide access to the river and interior of the state park. However, an adjacent landowner disputed FWP plans and stated that the road was not public.

The landowner and FWP went through a formal mediation process, and FWP proposed transferring approximately 483 acres of the WMA to the landowner in exchange for public recreational access on Lincoln Road. In November 2015, the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted down the road proposal, leaving the State Park and Wildlife Management Area without vehicle access to the river.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks purchased the 5,485-acre Wildlife Management Area in 2008. A 1,878-acre state park sits next to it.

The land was previously owned by Charlie Lincoln and known as the Lincoln Ranch. When Lincoln died, he left his ranch to the Catholic Diocese of Montana with instructions to give FWP the first right of refusal if the diocese decided to sell the land.

FWP paid $2 million for the state park portion of the land, funded through a one-time appropriation from the 2007 Legislature, and $5.6 million for the WMA portion thanks to Habitat Montana funding.

The Marias River is void of any technical whitewater. It's an easy float, even for someone with minimal experience.

It provides an easy two-date float.

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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

Spring Meadow Lake State Park 3

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Located west of Helena is Spring Meadow Lake State Park, a day-use park, popular for swimming, sunbathing, fishing and birdwatching.

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Looking for wildlife?

There are great wildlife viewing opportunities at Spring Meadow Lake State Park. You’ll find birds, rabbits, turtles and more! Looking for a nice walk? A 0.8-mile, self-guided nature trail circles the lake.

If you’re in need of a spot to fish, Spring Meadow Lake is your place. The lake is home to trout, bass and sunfish and there is even an ADA accessible fishing dock added to the park in 2011!

Even in winter, Spring Meadow Lake is perfect for recreation. The trail is open all winter and if it’s cold enough you can even fish or skate on the lake!

Unfortunately, your four-legged friend will have to stay home during the warmer months. Between April 15 and October 15 there are no dogs allowed in Spring Meadow Lake State Park.

Spring Meadow Lake State Park is a fed by a natural spring that feeds cool, clean water into the lake that is used for fishing, swimming, non-motorized boating, and even scuba diving. The lake and the state park land surrounding it were once an active gravel mine that was donated to the state in 1981.

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

"Nice quite little state park inside of Helena. Relaxing place to picnic, fish, swim or small boat/kayak."

"Great place to take the family out for the day and even get some fishing in. Located right in the heart of Helena, it is not out of the way at all and certainly worth a trip even just to hang out for lunch. The view is really nice, especially for being right in town that you would never even know."

"Great family park for Helena. Well maintained and kid-friendly swimming areas balanced with nice trails and fishing areas."

"Spring Meadow Lake State Park is the crown jewel among all the local parks. It is close to town, so people who can't go too far afield on their own (kids, for instance) can get there on foot or by bicycle. The lake itself is also a gem - it is usually clear, and it is always deep, cold, spring-fed and full of fish that everybody and anybody can try to catch. Helena is blessed with abundant parks and lots of nearby venues for outdoor fun but compared to any other urban parks and fishing spots anywhere, Helena's Spring Meadow Lake State Park cannot be beat."

 

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    Park

    Open 6 am to 10 pm

    Year-Round

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    Location

    2715 Country Club Drive Helena, MT 59601

Rosebud Battlefield State Park 6

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!

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

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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.

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

Pictograph Cave State Park 4

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.

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?

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.

  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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    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.

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    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

Wild Horse Island State Park 1

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Wild Horse Island State Park

Located on Flathead Lake, Wild Horse Island is the largest island in a freshwater lake west of Minnesota.

Accessible only by boat, Wild Horse Island has six boat landing sites, but visitors are welcome to pull their boats to shore on any of the public beach sites.

While most of the island is a state park, be aware as there is still private shoreline, therefore visitors are prohibited from using the boat docks.

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Looking to hike?

Due to the variety of wildlife, Wild Horse Island does not allow camping, pets or bikes as they may spook the animals. Fires and smoking are prohibited anywhere on the island.

What can you do at Wild Horse Island? The question is, what can’t you do?! You can:
Take a hike! The island has four miles of interconnected hiking trails, but visitors are free to explore off-trail as well.

  • Try and catch your dinner! Fishing is allowed with tribal & state fishing licenses.
  • Check out the wildlife including bighorn sheep, mule deer, songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons and wild horses.
  • Warm day? Take a dip in Flathead Lake!
  • Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy while you enjoy the views.

Wild Horse Island is said to have been used by the Salish-Kootenai Indians who would pasture their horses on the island to prevent them from being stolen by other tribes!

Wild Horse Island used to be farmed and in the 30s even hosted a lodge. Visitors can still find apple and pear orchards, so if you’re feeling peckish, grab a snack! Besides the great views and interesting wildlife, you can also find rare, endangered plant life on Wild Horse Island. The island even has a Palouse Prairie ecosystem, one of only three of these biomes in Montana!

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

"Beautifully untouched for the most part. There are 5 horses currently on island and 1 bear, that we saw neither of. Lol. However it was abundant with bald eagles, osprey, deer, and bighorn sheep. Most of which you can view from a boat offshore if you have a keen eye. If not get a guided tour. But no tours are given on island, just to and from."

"Great place to boat to and relax. Beautiful water and fun rocks to skip!"

"Beautiful island to cruise around and we caught the 5 wild horses on the Western side!"

"Island in flathead lake with a few hiking trails and animals. Worth a visit during the day, or coming over by boat closer to dusk to see the deer, sheep, and possibly horses as they come down to drink."

 

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    Park

    Open Year Round

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    Restrictions/Closures

    Fires & Smoking Prohibited
    Groups 15 and over must have a special permit.

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    Location

    Flathead Lake
    Latitude/Longitude:
    (47.84715/-114.23458)

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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.

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    The park may be called Travelers’ Rest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be active! Take a hike along Lolo Creek.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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!

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    Have a large group? There is a pavilion available to rent! Simply contact the park to make a reservation. Phone: 406-273-4253 Email: [email protected]

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    Looking to enjoy the wildlife? Go bird watching to see how many of the 115 recorded species you can find!

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    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

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    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

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!

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

Milltown State Park 3

Milltown State Park

Milltown State Park

Milltown State Park

On the outskirts of Missoula you’ll find Montana’s newest state park Milltown State Park. Once a Superfund river restoration project, years of hard work from multiple state and federal agencies, non-profits, businesses, and committed volunteers helped make the park what it is today.

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Interpretive displays are placed both at the overlook and confluence areas to provide insight into the history of the area. The story of how people have used the park and the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers is told from multiple perspectives in these detailed and interesting displays.

Outdoor opportunities and cultural heritage merge at the restored confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers at Milltown providing a unique opportunity for visitors.
The park includes 500 acres of terrain that ranges from restored river bottoms to a pine forested bluff that overlooks the confluence.

The park affords visitors a place to go hiking, biking, fishing, floating and watching for birds and wildlife. The Milltown State Park Overlook is open and features interpretive displays and picnic tables. There are nearly three miles of hiking trails that lead from the Overlook down to the Clark Fork River and its floodplain trails. 

The Confluence and Gateway areas, on the north side of the river, saw construction begin in the summer of 2017. The park development include trails, an interpretive plaza and river access. The grand opening for the Confluence area was June 23, 2018

Among the many stories from the deep past are the Glacial Lake Missoula floods that shaped the landscape thousands of years ago. The Salish and Kalispell know the confluence as the place of bull trout and consider it part of their ancestral home. In 19th century history, Meriwether Lewis made a Fourth of July passage through the confluence and decades later the Mullan Expedition spent a harsh winter there. Beginning in the 1880s, the rivers were dammed to produce power for the mills and communities but at great consequence.

The hopeful story of the Milltown Dam removal and rivers' return offers an opportunity to explore America's changing relationship to the land as well as the benefits that river restoration yields for Montana's families and communities.

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

"Super pretty day with blue skies. Easy walks for kids and grandparents."

"The State really did a beautiful job on this park it is awe inspiring and a photo in any direction of incredible landscaping."

"Good view, pretty wildflowers, walking trail, picnic table, quiet"

"Great place to relax"

 

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    Park

    Confluence Area Open 

    May 1 to September 30

    9 am to 9 pm

    October 1 to April 30

    9am to 5pm

    Overlook Area Open

    Sunrise to sunset

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    Location

    Confluence Area

    7363 Juniper Drive

    Missoula, MT 

    Overlook Area

    1353 Deer Creek Road

    Missoula, MT

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Take a picnic and hike to the top of a buffalo jump for impressive views of the Madison River Valley.

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

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Situated on the edge of a broad valley carved by the Madison River, this high limestone cliff was used by Native Americans for 2,000 years - ending as recently as 200 years ago.

Native people stampeded vast herds of bison off this massive semicircular cliff, using them for food, clothing, shelter and provisions.

"Runners," highly skilled young men trained for speed and endurance, wore buffalo, antelope or wolf skins to lure bison to the "pishkun" or cliff. The buffalo jump was often the key to existence for native peoples.

Although the introduction of horses led to the abandonment of this jump sometime after 1700, the rugged outcropping now serves as an inspiring monument to the region's early inhabitants.

The park includes all the main geographical features of a jump site, and other evidence remains to provide visitors with a glimpse into the cultures that used this hunting style. Interpretive displays help visitors understand the dramatic events that took place here for nearly 2,000 years.

Buffalo bones still lie buried at the cliff's base, and archaeologists have located the tipi rings of an extensive village. With a little imagination it is easy to visualize the drama of a buffalo drive, the thunderous roar of the stampede, the dramatic sight of the fall, and the frenzy of activity that followed.

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Curious what other visitors have to say about the park?

"Cool historic site! Surprisingly this place was chillingly peaceful."

"A good hike, short and sweet. Nice interpretive signage at the end of the .5 mile hike. It's a good place to go to get out of the city for a while!"

"This place is worth the trip a little ways off of the main hiways. The Madison Buffalo Jump has a true unique historic feel to it. You really get the sense with all the info plaques etc. that you can imagine the buffalo careering off the edge. You get a real idea of what the indigenous people went through to survive. I would definitely recommend hiking up to the top either by attacking it straight on, or the easier route around the side."

"Worth the extra drive to get to the trailhead. There is a short mile and a half return hike to the interpretive kiosk and back. Very easy walking and the interpretive displays are very well done. The longer walk will take you to the top of the buffalo jump itself. Some steep climbs involved. It is not half as dangerous at the top as it sounds. The view across to the Madison River is exceptional."

"Wasn't wearing proper hiking attire to hike up the hill, but enjoyed the peaceful songs of the Meadowlarks."

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    Park

    Open all year
    Daylight hours

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    Location

    6990 Buffalo Jump Road
    Three Forks, MT 59752