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Parks & Recreation in Montana

Montana - America's Playground

As you will soon find out, Montana is one giant outdoor playground.

The Treasure State is home to millions of acres of public land – national parks, national monuments, national forests, state lands, and more. Hikers, bikers, skiers, boaters, and more will find a place to call home here.

You can choose from two sprawling national parks – Glacier has ridgeline trails and snow-covered paths, while Yellowstone is the go-to spot for wildlife viewing and geyser gazing.

Flathead National Forest is home to glaciers, lakes, and rivers – all easily accessible from trailheads and put-ins – as well as two popular ski areas. The Bitterroot National Forest, south of Missoula, has millions of acres of wilderness along with groomed cross-country ski trails, kayak-friendly rivers, and secluded mountain lakes.

Some of America’s most breathtaking scenery is found southwest of Billings in the Custer Gallatin National Forest, where paved roads reach past 10,000 feet and snow-dappled mountainsides shelter alpine forests and wildflower-covered meadows. Mellow trails lead to hidden lakes and soaring peaks.

Montana’s river access laws present generous opportunities for the public to get on the water – rivers such as the Gallatin, Madison, Blackfoot, Flathead, and Missouri are the stuff that fly-fishing dreams are made of.

Bannack State Park

Set a course for Montana and head west into Dillon. A pleasant and charming city, Dillon is home to Bannack State Park, set only a few miles west of town. A National Historic Landmark, Bannack State Park is the site of Montana's first major gold discovery in 1862. Bannack State Park features a slew of sites for bird watchers, trails for cycling, and fishing – just to name a few of it's highlights.

Dillon, almost directly south of Butte along the I-15, is the choice destination when planning an adventure at Bannack State Park. Make the scenic drive west and enjoy a pleasant family picnic, snap a few pictures for your scrap book, and keep an eye out for wildlife going about their business – you're sure to have a blast at Bannack State Park.

Crystal Park

Found at 7,800 feet, Crystal Park is found in western Montana in the Pioneer Mountains of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Set near Dillon, Crystal Park is a free park open May 15th through September 30th.

Crystal Park visitors may dig for quartz crystals on over 30 acres during daylight hours. Crystal Park also features restroom facilities, picnic areas, a scenic overlook, and paved trails for light hiking.

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Ready to explore the Treasure State? Make your way to southwestern Montana to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park, for a fun underground adventure.

Established in 1911 as a National Monument, the park is home to the spectacular limestone caverns that were discovered as early as 1882.

This wonderful park was declared the first state park for Montana in 1941 and remains the largest caverns in the Northwest area of the country. The park encompasses 2,920 acres of land, located forty-five miles west of Bozeman.

Admire the surrounding mountain views, as you walk up the short paved trail to the entrance of the caverns.

Step inside this magnificent cave to partake in a guided two-mile tour, to see the incredible stalagmites, stalactites, helictites and columns. Above-ground activities include hiking and mountain biking.

Schedule plenty of time after the tour, for strolling through the interpretive exhibits in the visitor center, to learn more about this wonderful park.

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park

Found by Interstate 90, Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is located in southwestern Montana near Bozeman. Covering 638 acres in Three Forks, this Montana state park is found in the Madison River Valley.

Open throughout the year, Madison Buffalo Jump State Park features hiking, nature photography, wildlife viewing, picnicking, and history exhibits in the Visitor Center.

Missouri Headwaters State Park

Recreational enthusiasts in the state of Montana have plenty of options for outdoor fun. Not only can they explore Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park, but they can also have fun in Missouri Headwaters State Park. Located near Three Forks, Montana, this park is the official start of the Missouri River. This United States National Historic Landmark was visited by explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in 1805.

The famous Lewis and Clark explorers named the Madison and Jefferson Rivers during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, between 1804 and 1806. This beautiful 532-acre park features a boat ramp, boating, fishing, hiking and bicycling trails, picnic areas and interpretive programs.

Pictograph Cave State Park

Get off the beaten path during your visit to Billings. Travel five miles south of the city, to explore the fascinating 93-acre, Pictograph Cave State Park.

The park contains the Ghost, Middle and Pictograph caves, the site where more than thirty thousand historic artifacts have been recovered from a 1937 excavation.

Pictograph Cave, the largest of the three caves, contains 106 pictographs that were painted on the interior cave wall, up to 2,145 years ago.

Schedule plenty of time during a self-guided tour of this wonderful 93-acre park, located in south-central Montana.

Walk along the paved trails, taking a few moments to read the interpretive signage along the way, before reaching the caves. Stop by the park's visitor center for further information on this National Historic Landmark or to sign up for a guided tour.

Rookery State Recreation Area

Located just outside of Havre in northern Montana, the Rookery State Wildlife Management Area attracts visitors year round due its abundance of outdoor recreation. The area primarily is dedicated to preserving the riparian areas along the nearby Milk River.

Popular activities include fishing, hiking, picnicking, and wildlife viewing. With the proper permits, visitors can hunt beaver, ducks, geese, and more. The area encompasses over 2,200 acres in total, ensuring plenty of beautiful scenery and Montana landscape.

Wild Horse Island

Covering 2,160 acres, Wild Horse Island is located in northwestern Montana near Polson. A Montana state park since 1978, the island is managed by the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks on Flathead Lake – the largest freshwater lake in the state.

Wild Horse Island features outdoor recreation like hiking, kayaking, swimming, sailing, and boating. Check out exhibits on the Salish-Kootenai Indians, and enjoy wildlife viewing, picnicking, nature photography and more. There are many ways to enjoy northwestern Montana – Wild Horse Island may just be the best.