Wildlife Viewing

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

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

Parks That Others Are Visiting

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"

 

Parks That Others Are Visiting

Beavertail Hill State Park 1

Beavertail Hill State Park

Beavertail Hill State Park

Beavertail Hill State Park

This park has a one-half mile of Clark Fork River frontage that provides fishing and floating opportunities. Boating is carry-in only. There are 24 developed campsites and 2 tipi rentals.

There is a walking nature trail through a thick canopy of cottonwood trees that takes about an hour from start to finish. The park has an elevation of 3,615 feet and is 65 acres. RV and trailer units have a limit size of 28 feet. 

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Beavertail Hill is one of Montana's busiest state parks based on the number of nights people camped at the park.

During the summer, free interpretive programs are hosted in the amphitheater on Saturday evenings.

Park Rangers and other outdoor professionals use these programs to teach park visitors about the history, geography, geology, and other nature-based topics throughout the summer months.

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

"First time staying here. Great little campground. Well maintained. Hosts were very pleasant and helpful. Will be staying here again in the future."

"Spent one night and enjoyed our stay. Sites were level and very large with tree-privacy. We spotted 17 bird species, elk and ground hogs."

"What a beautiful, secluded camp ground on the river! We just stopped in to have a picnic lunch. It is only a half mile from I-90, but it is so quiet!"

"Tipi rental was very clean, functioning and authentic. Dogs must be on a leash but there are fully functioning bathrooms and readily accessible potable water. Plenty of memories were made and we will definitely do this again."

 

"Nice quiet place to take a hike, or you can go camping or go fishing in the river."

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    Park

    Peak Season

    May 1 through October 31

    Open 24/7

    Off-Season

    November 1 through April 30

    Day use only

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    Campground

    Open May 1st through October 31st

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    Location

    29895 Bonita Station Road
    Clinton, MT 59825

Parks That Others Are Visiting

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."

 

Designation

"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

Parks That Others Are Visiting

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