Wildlife Viewing

Smith River State Park

Smith River State Park

Smith River State Park

The Smith River is mostly known for being a wonderful 59-mile long river full of natural beauty, with great boating, fishing, and photographic opportunities.

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Looking to float?

Permits to float the river are highly sought after and distributed through a lottery system similar to hunting licenses for certain big game species in Montana.
The due date for permit applications is February 13th! Its the perfect Valentine's day gift for that river loving partner of yours!

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing/Fly Fishing
  • Kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Rafting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Tent Camping

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Grills and firepits
  • Pets allowed
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • 59-mile section of river
  • Maps available
  • Plus so much more!

If you weren't lucky enough to win a permit during the annual lottery system, you can still enjoy the Smith River by visiting Camp Baker west of White Sulphur Springs or Eden Bridge 59 miles downriver and just short drive south of Great Falls.

At Camp Baker, you'll find a campground with primitive campsites, latrine facilities, and a busy boat ramp for the lucky folks who won launch permits.

After the floating parties have launched for the day Camp Baker becomes quiet for a few hours and visitors will enjoy great access for fishing, birdwatching, and even swimming in the summer months.

At the other end of the park is Eden Bridge, the normal take out for Smith River float trips. Eden Bridge is a minimally developed day-use site with latrine facilities, a boat ramp, and day-use access to the river.

While there are few amenities at Eden Bridge, it does make for a nice day trip destination from Great Falls where visitors have a chance to spend time on the banks of one of Montana's most iconic waterways. The float season varies widely depending on snow-pack, rainfall and the amount and timing of irrigation.

The “typical” float season runs from mid-April through mid-July, with occasional floating opportunities in September and October.

Many find Smith River State Park a place of peace because a permit is required to float the Smith River. This permit requirement means visitors can expect to have a quality, multi-day float with relative solitude and excellent trout fishing opportunities.

Of course, you don't need a permit to access the campground and enjoy all the natural splendor of the area.

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

"Lots of fun things to see and imagine. Have fun exploring, we did."

"My favorite vacation to date."

"The trip was absolutely perfect for our honeymoon! Protect the Smith!"

"Luckily we can still do this, best therapy around!"

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    791 Clear Range Road White Sulpher Springs, MT 59645

Smith River State Park

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Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park covers approximately 3,000 acres and stretches over 20 miles along Highway 2, halfway between Kalispell and Libby.

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Looking for water access?

This extensive park includes shoreline access to 18 lakes including McGregor Lake, Little McGregor Lake, Lower Thompson Lake, Middle Thompson Lake, Upper Thompson Lake, Horseshoe Lake and Loon Lake.

There are 83 standard campsites and 8 group campsites, all of which require a fee for overnight camping. Sites are rustic; there is no drinking water available.  Please remember, these campgrounds are currently closed and will reopen when health officials have determined it is safe to do so.

Concrete boat ramps are located at Little McGregor Lake, Boisverts on McGregor Lake, the Peninsula on Lower Thompson Lake, Upper Thompson Lake, Horseshoe Lake and Loon Lake.

Roads are primitive and not recommended for motor homes and large trailers.

However, the 37 developed campsites at Logan State Park, located on Middle Thompson Lake, are suitable for large camping units.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Group Camping
  • Kayaking
  • Motor Boating
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open Year-Round
  • Boat Launch
  • Campsite
  • Camp Host
  • Established Fire Pits
  • Picnic Tables
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Plus so much more!

Visitors enjoy swimming, boating, camping, and water skiing, and the lakes are especially noted for great fishing.

Local fish include black crappie, brook trout, lake trout, northern pike, rainbow trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, kokanee salmon, westslope cutthroat trout and yellow perch.

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park also offers some of the most outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing in northwest Montana.

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

"It's an amazingly beautiful place to be out in the water. So clear you can see the bottom."

"Very pretty and fun to explore on a kayak!"

"Love the nice small lakes, great for paddle board or kayak. Did not camp but would be great place to do that. Area is well maintained."

"These lakes are renown for fishing, swimming and water sports. There are plenty of camp sites around the lakes, including Logan State Park - which has a boat launch and public beach perfect for picnic lunches and swimming for even young kids."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Roads are not maintained during winter months.

    Camping 
    Gates for campsite pods at Lower, Middle and Upper Thompson are closed 11/30/19 and tentatively reopen 4/26/20.

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    Location

    78854 US Hwy 2 Libby, MT 59923

Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park

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Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Thompson Falls State Park

Located along the Clark Fork River between Thompson Falls Dam and Noxon Dam, Thompson Falls State Park is surrounded by a mature and a mixed conifer forest making for a tranquil and quiet destination.

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Looking to hike or fish?

Ready to hike away your day? Thompson Falls Trail runs along the Clark Fork River and connects to the Montana Highway 200 into the town of Thompson Falls where you’ll find the Thompson Falls Community Trails network.

Pike and bass are the most common species fished out of Thompson Falls State Park, but you may find a surprise species if you’re lucky!

While fishing and hiking are popular in Thompson Falls, this state park is used mostly for camping and picnicking. Host to 18 sites and a group picnic area, this riverside campground is great for tent or RV camping, but make sure your trailer is no more than 30 feet!

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Group Camping
  • Hiking
  • Motor Boating
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • River Fishing
  • RV Camping
  • Swimming
  • Tent Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 36 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Water
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Boat Launch
  • Camp Host
  • Firewood for Sale
  • Maps
  • Plus, much more!

The Thompson Chain of Lakes includes 18 lakes and stretches 20 miles! Families will love the improved fishing pond which includes an accessible fishing pier, picnic shelter, bathroom and improved parking.

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

"Nice place to camp along Clark Fork River. Beautiful view from the back of our site along the river. Camp was quiet and bathrooms were clean."

"Plenty of camping and picnic spots, along with a boat launch. Long stretches of Sandy Beach along the river for swimming. We enjoyed kayaking, as well! We come every year for a big family campout!"

"This place is so beautiful! The trail is right on the river. My children absolutely loved it! My 5 year especially loved the lake with all the turtles. This is a great place to eat lunch and go for a short hike."

"A great place to camp!! Will definitely go back."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Gates Open

    April 27 - September 30

    Gates Closed

    October 2 - April 26

    Campground

    Open Year-Round

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    Location

    2220 Blue Slide Rd. Thompson Falls, MT 59873

Thompson Falls State Park

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Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park

Sluice Boxes State Park was created in 1974 and included significant historic structures and remnants of the abandoned towns of Riceville and Albright that once existed for the purpose of mining limestone in the canyon.

Belt Creek which formed the canyon that is the centerpiece of the park, has long been popular for outdoor recreation. Citizens of nearby Great Falls began visiting the area for fishing, camping, hunting and other activities as early as 1889 when the railroad connecting silver mines in the Barker and Hughesville mining districts to smelters in Great Falls was completed.

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Things to do:

The park is now popular with local visitors, history enthusiasts, fishermen, hikers, and others. The rugged landscape creates dramatic scenery as it contrasts distinctly with the rolling hills and rounded mountains of this part of central Montana.

A walk down the old railroad grade trail will bring you to fishing access, floating, swimming and wildlife viewing. Be aware: steep cliffs, rugged terrain and cold, swift water can pose a risk to visitors, so be sure to take caution!

If you’re looking to camp, you’ll need a Backcountry Campsite Permit. You can contact Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks headquarters in Great Falls to do so.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Backcountry Camping
  • Bird Watching
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • History
  • Hunting
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • Rafting
  • Stream Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife Viewing

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Interpretive Display
  • Maps
  • Pets Allowed
  • Pack-in/Pack-out
  • Toilets (Vault)

The Barker Mines and the Montana Central Railroad are part of the history of Sluice Boxes State Park.
Carved by Belt Creek as it comes down from the Little Belt Mountains, the large limestone cliffs and steep ledges are the signatures of Belt Creek Canyon.

By September of 1890, the Central Montana Railroad dropped off fisherman at various locations along Belt Creek in what is now Sluice Boxes State Park. When Belt Creek was named a blue ribbon trout stream in the 1920s, the railroad ran special “fishing trains” on Sundays.

This area was once home to prospectors searching for precious metals, miners, muleskinners, smelter men and railroaders building bridges. Today, visitors can find the remnants of mines, cabins and a railroad along the banks of Belt Creek in the park.

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

"We stop every trip because the view is gorgeous no matter what the season."

"Beautiful place. Be prepared if you plan on hiking the trail. Lots of river crossings."

"A great place to hike if you don't mind crossing the river several times. It is best to go in the late summer when the river is at its lowest point so that you can cross safely. There is an old homestead to explore as well."

"Family & pet friendly hike. Beautiful for pictures and swimming. There is a spot where you can do a cliff jump into the lake."

 

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    Park

    Parking/Trailhead
    Open Sunrise to Sunset
    Backcountry 
    Open 24/7
    Pets Allowed
    Toilets (Vault)
    Campground
    Backcountry Campsite
    Permit required

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    Location

    38 Evans Riceville Road Belt, MT 59412

Sluice Boxes State Park

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Salmon Lake State Park

Salmon Lake State Park

Salmon Lake State Park

Tucked between the Mission and Swan Mountain Ranges along the Clearwater River you’ll find Salmon Lake State Park, a great park for camping and water recreation.  Salmon Lake became a state park in December of 1977.  

A memorial plaque near the park's center explains how the Salmon Lake State Park was a gift from the Champion Timberland Corps and is meant to serve as an honor to three foresters who died in a plane crash in 1976.

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Looking to visit?

Fall is one of the best times to visit the park. The reflection of colorful Western Larch trees in the lake makes for a breathtaking view! 

The forests surrounding the lake are home to many Western Larch trees which are unique as they are one of only a few species of deciduous coniferous trees, meaning that they change color and shed their foliage in the fall like broadleaf trees.  

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Fish in Salmon Lake or Clearwater River for a variety of trout, largemouth bass, white mountain whitefish, kokanee salmon, yellow perch and northern pike. 
  • Go birdwatching and see if you can spot any red-necked grebes, great blue herons, bald eagles, waterfowl, osprey or common loons. 
  • Enjoy the gravel beach and take a dip in the lake. 
  • Take a hike along the shoreline or through the forest on one of the many trails. 
  • Enjoy the lake in a canoe, kayak or on water-skis if you’re a bit more adventurous. 
  • Plus so much more!

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • Open May through September
  • Open Year-Round
  • 42 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Shower
  • RV Dump Station
  • Electricity
  • RV Hookups
  • Water
  • Maps
  • Interpretive Display
  • Boat Launch
  • Plus, much more!

A beautiful forest of Western Larch, Ponderosa Pine, and Douglas-Fir surround the campsite, which includes 23 paved sites with electrical hookups.

The campsite host can provide ideas for activities and will have firewood for sale!

This campsite has become so popular in the last few years, reservations are recommended to be sure you don’t miss out!

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

"I love this park. They have a couple of camp spots that right on the water and it's gorgeous. They also have some really nice spots that are up on a hill overlooking the lake with nature trails that lead to an island! There are even a couple of hiker/biker spots for $8 a night. Seriously, this is one of my favorite camp spots in the area."

"Great campground, nice camp host, amenities were what the website stated. Will be back!"

"Great lake to swim, paddle, and boat!"

"I’ve fished this lake probably around three hundred times and I just keep coming back. I fish mostly northern pike and it’s rare that I go home empty handed. The boat launch is above average and they’ve recently added a no swimming sign to the dock which is beneficial and safer for me as a boatsmen. There is a separate swimming area. It also has a covered area for picnics, clean restrooms, and amble parking for single cars."

 

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    Park

    Off-Season

    November 1 - April 30

    Closed to all motorized traffic, walk-in only. Day-use only, no overnight camping. 

    Peak Season

    Open Summer through Late October

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    Location

    2329 Hwy. 83 N Seeley Lake, MT 59868

Salmon Lake State Park

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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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Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park

Placid Lake State Park is located outside of Missoula, MT near Seeley Lake, MT. Placid Lake State Park is open year-round with extensive outdoor recreation options in the summer months, including fishing, boating, hiking, and mountain biking – just to name a few.

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Looking to camp?

Lake Placid State Park is a great option if you’re looking to camp! WIth 40 campsites and recently added showers and laundry facilities, this state park provides a taste of the great outdoors without having to stray too far from the comforts of home. 

With over 40,000 visitors each summer, Placid Lake State Park is one of the busiest state parks.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Challenge your friends or family to a game of volleyball or horseshoes.
  • Spend the day on the water boating or swimming.
  • Take in a beautiful sunset over the lake. 
  • Go on a hike around the lake. 
  • Open Year-Round

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 31 Acres
  • ADA Accessible
  • Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Flush & Vault)
  • Shower
  • RV Hookups
  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Maps
  • Boat Launch
  • Plus so much more!

 

The forest around the lake was once in logging territory and what were once roads used to haul trees and equipment are now used as hiking and mountain biking trails. You can learn more about the history of the area through the interpretive panels along the trails.

Planning to bring your boat? You can rent a boat slip on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Did you know the Montana State Parks Foundation’s specialty license plate is a painting of this state park by Missoula artist, Monte Dolack, entitled “Placid Lake Sunset”?

And that every dollar from license plate sales help to fund the Foundation's work and is available at your local DMV anywhere in the state.

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

"The lake was amazing, the surrounding area breathtaking and the road to get there was well maintained. The campgrounds were clean and so were the restrooms. I am already planning my next visit to Placid Lake."

"Pure heaven if you are looking for a place to boat, camp, hike, pick huckleberries, bike ride, or fish. Just a few ideas for an amazing getaway. The lake is beautiful, warm and not extremely large. You can pick huckleberries right off the main roads in the summer.. Go explore and visit this little gem in Montana."

"Really awesome state park campground. We'll definitely be back. Amenities are great including hot showers and clean facilities. The swim beach is great for young kids and the access to the lake is great."

"Beautiful park to kayak, picnic and swim."

 

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    Park

    Off-Season Hours

    December 1 - April 30

    Closed to all motorized traffic, walk-in only.

    Day-use only, no overnight camping.

    Peak Season Hours

    May 22 - November 30

    7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

    Campground

    Open Year-Round

Placid Lake 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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Yellow Bay State Park

Yellow Bay State Park

Yellow Bay State Park

One of the six state parks located on Flathead Lake, Yellow Bay is an excellent destination for tent campers!

To get there, visitors will take a drive along the beautiful, winding MT HWY 35 amidst cherry, pear and apple orchards.

As you pass through, remember to stop and explore the local orchards. They offer fresh fruit as well as guided tours!

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Looking to camp?

Regardless of the water level, boaters usually have no problems putting their boats in at Yellow Bay due to the steepness of its ramp. There are 5 tent campsites, and they are first-come, first-served, so be sure to arrive early to claim your spot!

Yellow Bay Creek flows through the park near the campsites, providing a peaceful sound of cascading water to fall asleep to.
The University of Montana has a renowned Biological station there.

They are the second oldest biological field station in the US and the oldest west of the Mississippi River. They have one of the oldest, contiguous lake data sets in the world.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • Be on the lookout for birds and plentiful wildlife.
  • Spend a day on the open water boating, canoeing, kayaking or water skiing.
  • A joint tribal/state license will allow you to fish for lake trout.
  • Take a dip in the chilly water.
  • Take a look at what’s under the surface of the water and go scuba diving.

Features

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    Park Amenities

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

They are currently building an erosion-resistant beach on their portion of the property. They also offer regular community and family activities year round.

Don’t forget to grab fresh fruit from roadside stands or go picking at an orchard during the summer months!

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

"Nice small park tucked away from the heavy traffic of some of the larger parks. Spacious boat launch and a large area to let your water dogs enjoy the lake. Lots of picnic tables- sun and shade. Free day use for Montana residents."

"Clean and cute campground with a camp host and lake access. Plenty of picnic tables and a picnic shelter. Bathroom was clean and stocked with TP and soap."

"Very nice park facing south. We had sun all day. Park Host was very helpful and doing a great job of keeping up with the park. Restrooms had running water and they were clean! No showers but was a hose to wash off after swimming, a must in late summer when swimmers itches is more common. No kids toys but water, rocks, small creek, plenty to do. Enjoyed it very much!"

"Best campground at the lake's shore. Good boat ramp and plenty room to tie boats to shore."

 

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    Park

    Open Year-Round

    Campground 
    Tent Camping Only.
    Not maintained for winter use.

    Additional Information 
    Water available mid-May to Labor Day.
    Dock available mid-March through November.
    A joint state/tribal fishing license is required at this park.

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    Location

    23861 MT HWY 35 Bigfork, MT 59911

Yellow Bay State Park

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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.

Things To Do

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    Camping Site

  • 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.

Features

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    Park Amenities

  • 2,160 Acres
  • Boat Access
  • No Pets Allowed
  • Toilets (Vault)
  • Wild Horses
  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Plus so many more!

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

    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)

Wild Horse Island State Park

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