State Parks in Montana: The 13 Places That Stole My Heart

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Daniel is a copywriter who has well and truly been bitten alive by the 'travel bug'. After ticking off several North American National Parks and exploring Europe by train, his sights are now set on South East Asia. Usually with at least one camera locked and loaded, you'll find Daniel wherever there are mountains, lakes or beaches.

The state parks in Montana are something to behold, a land where history and nature collide. From ancient dinosaur tracks to majestic sandstone pillars adorned with Native American rock art, Montana’s state parks bring to life the pages from our history books. Without further ado, let’s go exploring!

Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park, Montana - State Parks in Montana
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Journey into the past at Makoshika State Park, Montana’s largest state park. These ancient badlands, once traversed by dinosaurs, now invite exploration through scenic drives, nature trails, and even an archery area. Immerse yourself in the park’s rich geological history, unearthing stories of the Triceratops and Thescelosaurus at the visitor center, and feeling the thrill of discovery that swept through when a massive triceratops skull was unearthed in 1991.

Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park


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Indulge in a unique blend of history and adventure at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park, a 3,000-acre preserve nestled just east of Whitehall, Montana. Trek the ten miles of hiking trails, relish a peaceful picnic, or engage in wildlife photography, all in the very area where the famous Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in 1805. The park’s crown jewel, its namesake limestone caverns, promises an otherworldly exploration on guided tours, available from May through September.

Lone Pine State Park

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Unleash your inner adventurer at Lone Pine State Park, tucked on the serene southwest side of Kalispell, Montana. This day-use park sprawls over 270 acres and offers 7.5 miles of trails, perfect for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing, or horseback riding. Whether you’re a local, out-of-state visitor, or on a school field trip, the park’s diverse activities and interpretive programs can cater to all. Notably, the park pioneers inclusivity with its freely accessible Action Trackchair, allowing individuals of all abilities to revel in Montana’s natural beauty.

Tongue River Reservoir State Park

Tongue River Reservoir State Park, Montana
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Tongue River Reservoir State Park is a 642-acre space nestled north of Decker, Montana, and is home to a perfect fusion of adventure and tranquility. This park, home to the 12-mile-long Tongue River Reservoir, invites visitors to enjoy boating, fishing, camping, and swimming. Its 81 convenient campsites, complete with electric hookups, and the popular beach area at Sand Point, offer ideal settings for both relaxation and adventure. The park’s charm extends into winter as it morphs into a much sought-after destination for ice fishing.

Beaverhead Rock State Park


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Explore American history at Beaverhead Rock State Park, a meaningful site listed in the National Register of Historic Places. With a unique formation that beckons the image of a swimming beaver, this landmark guided a young Shoshone Indian, Sacagawea, during the iconic Lewis and Clark Expedition. Capture this historical marvel through your lens or indulge in wildlife viewing, soaking in the park’s rich heritage and cultural significance.

Pictograph Cave State Park

Pictograph Cave State Park, Montana
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Step into a world steeped in ancient history at Pictograph Cave State Park, a National Historic Landmark boasting over 2,000-year-old rock paintings. Wander along the informative loop trail, where interpretive displays unveil the secrets of prehistoric paintings, artifacts, and native vegetation. Whether you’re delving into ancient mysteries, indulging in birdwatching, or enjoying a picnic in this unique setting, Pictograph Cave State Park offers a fascinating escape. Don’t forget your binoculars to get a closer look at the captivating rock art!

Wild Horse Island State Park

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Discover the extraordinary allure of Wild Horse Island State Park, a treasured Montana island deeply rooted in Kootenai Indian history. Accessible only by boat, this day-use park invites you to traverse its scenic shoreline, perfect for hikers, swimmers, and sailing enthusiasts. Experience the thrill of spotting bighorn sheep, mule deer, and even wild horses in their natural habitat, or marvel at rare and endangered plant species. Remember to respect this unique ecosystem for future visitors and remember to properly store your food, as you’re sharing the island with its resident bears.

Medicine Rocks State Park

Medicine Rocks State Park, Montana
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Explore Montana’s historic Medicine Rocks State Park, where majestic sandstone pillars rise 60 to 80 feet high, adorned with Native American rock art. Revered as sacred by the Plains Indians, these pillars set the stage for an immersive visit. Hike through the park’s six-mile primitive trail, camp under the stars at one of the twelve available sites, and keep an eye out for the diverse array of wildlife that calls this park home.

Painted Rocks State Park


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Venture into the vivid landscapes of Painted Rocks State Park, a recreational gem nestled at the southern end of Painted Rocks Reservoir in Montana. The park, renowned for its granite and rhyolite cliffs adorned with green, yellow, and orange lichens, promises adventure with activities such as bird-watching, boating, hiking, and more. With clear skies perfect for astronomy and a rich array of wildlife, including elks, moose, and peregrine falcons, Painted Rocks offers an unparalleled fusion of nature, sport, and natural beauty.

Milltown State Park

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Take in the rich tapestry of cultural heritage and outdoor adventures within the 635-acre expanse of Milltown State Park. Situated at the confluence of the Clark Fork and Blackfoot Rivers, the park offers miles of hiking trails, riverfront escapades, and panoramic views from the Overlook. Summer brings the exhilarating “tube hatch” event, a favorite respite from Missoula’s heat. The park’s history, spanning from the era of Glacial Lake Missoula floods through the 19th-century timber industry, infuses your visit with depth and meaning.

Giant Springs State Park

Giant Springs State Park, Montana
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Immerse yourself in the natural splendor of Giant Springs State Park, located just outside of Great Falls, Montana. Encompassing 14 miles of the Missouri River shoreline, the park offers a myriad of activities from hiking and biking to fishing and bird watching. Marvel at one of the country’s largest freshwater springs, stroll through the Giant Springs Fish Hatchery or cycle the park’s extensive trail system. With a history that includes the Lewis and Clark expedition and the rise of Great Falls, this park delivers a fulfilling blend of adventure and education.

Bannack State Park

Bannack State Park, Montana
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Delve into the mysteries of the Old West at Bannack State Park, a well-preserved ghost town and the site of Montana’s first significant gold strike. As you wander the ghostly main street lined with over 50 historic structures, you’ll experience the echoes of a once-thriving gold rush town. Enjoy guided tours, annual events like Bannack Days featuring historical displays, and various camping opportunities, including a unique rental tipi. In the chilly winter months, the park invites visitors to skate on its frozen dredge pond, adding a delightful touch to its historical charm.

Whitefish Lake State Park


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Welcome to Whitefish Lake State Park, your gateway to adventure in Montana’s great outdoors. This secluded 10-acre haven, just two miles northwest of Whitefish, features serene boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities on the calm waters of Whitefish Lake. The park’s 25 campsites, including hike-in and bike-in sites introduced in 2016, nestled within a mature woodland, providing a tranquil retreat. The park’s location on the Whitefish hiking and biking trail system and proximity to Whitefish Mountain ski resort make it a year-round base camp for outdoor enthusiasts.

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