Allow us to introduce you to your next summer adventure. Montana boasts a network of over 55 State Parks – scattered literally from one corner (Brush Lake in Northeastern Montana) to the other (Bannack in the Southwest). The best part about the 10+ State Parks in our beautiful region is that they make the perfect pit stop as you drive from Yellowstone to Glacier – these hidden gems lie right between Montana’s National Parks! Here’s a quick rundown of the State Parks located in Southwest Montana!
1. Bannack Ghost Town
With a visit to Montana’s first territorial capital, the Old West will come alive again. Bannack is settled along Grasshopper Creek and is the site of a major gold discovery of 1862 and is one of the best-preserved ghost towns in the state. Learn more about Bannack’s incredible history.
2. Lewis & Clark Caverns
The Lewis & Clark Caverns is one of the largest known limestone caverns in the Northwest. From May to September the Caverns are open for tours, with the occasional special touring offering during the off season. The park also has a campground, hiking trails, and visitor center.
3. Lost Creek
One of our favorite features of Montana is that you are never too far from incredible untouched wilderness. While State Parks may not count as untouched, Lost Creek offers an amazing ADA accessible trail to a cascading waterfall. This beautiful park will not disappoint!
4. Clark’s Lookout
This State park truly gives visitors the opportunity to stand in the footsteps of giants. Look out over the valley from the very spot William Clark stood, surveying the Corps’ expected route on August 13, 1805.
5. Beaverhead Rock
As the Lewis & Clark expedition made their way into the Dillon area, Beaverhead Rock was the landmark that Sacagawea recognized as being the land of her people. As you follow the Lewis & Clark trail, this is a must see.
6. Anaconda Smoke Stack
As you drive into Anaconda, you can’t miss the Smoke Stack on the horizon – this State Park thrives on history … and was once part of the Copper Smelter! Insider tip … during the annual Smelterman’s Celebration (at the beginning of August) they offer a limited number of tours (by reservation) up to the stack, complete with historical interpretation!
7. Spring Meadow
Spring Meadow is located in the western corner of Helena and has served the community as a popular urban day-use park. Enjoy an afternoon of swimming, fishing, walking, birdwatching, or simply spending time with friends and family.
8. Black Sandy
Two words … water recreation. Located on the shores of Hauser Reservoir in Helena, this State Park is the perfect weekend camping destination or simple day-trip! If you are looking for somewhere for boating, fishing, swimming, camping, picnicking, bicycling, or even mountain biking – this is your park!
9. Elkhorn Ghost Town
All that remains of the charming town of Elkhorn is two historical structures: Fraternity and Gillian Halls. It is the views that make this State Park one for the books! Don’t miss an opportunity to explore a back-road in Southwest Montana.
10. Granite Ghost Town
Granite is one of … quite a few ghost towns in Southwest Montana, but what sets this town apart is that unlike so many others in the region, this town was built on silver not copper or gold. Dig deeper into the history of this once thriving 1890s boom town!
11. (BONUS) Missouri Headwaters
You caught us, technically this one is not in the boundary of the Southwest Montana tourism region, but it’s so close we could not help ourselves!
This State Parks marks the confluence of the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin Rivers to form the Mighty Missouri. Top reason to visit the park this summer? They offer a summer speaker series Saturdays at 7pm – check out their events.