Summer is here. The days are getting longer and (with the exception of the occasional downpour/thunderstorm) hotter. It won’t be long now before 80 degrees seems normal and 90 seems perfectly reasonable. Which means that it is finally time to start thinking very seriously about abandoning all responsibility and spending the next two and a half months near the water. If relaxing by the water is something you enjoy (and if you don’t enjoy that, what kind of a person are you?), then Southwest Montana is the perfect place to be. We have rivers you can float, creeks you can fish, and lakes you can swim.
If you are looking for a quick daytrip or weekend getaway with minimal organizational fuss, then you need look no further than Spring Meadow Lake or Black Sandy, both state parks conveniently located near Helena. Spring Meadow Lake is a great day use state park right in Helena. It has picnic pavilions and plenty of beaches to accommodate the many sun bathers and swimmers who spend the hot days of summer there. People are also welcome to canoe, kayak and fish on the lake. In addition to the plethora of water related activities, this urban park features a short loop trail, if for some inexplicable reason you decide to venture out of the water.
Black Sandy State Park is only a bit further out of town, on Hauser reservoir. This 43 acre state park includes trails, interpretive signs and 29 campsites. But, let’s be honest, the main feature is, again, the water. Black Sandy is one of the few places where Hauser reservoir is accessible, and that alone makes it a favorite location among the water crowd. In addition to an excellent swimming and sunbathing beach, Black Sandy has a boat launch for water skiers and other boaty types.
Since both are state parks, you know that they are going to be well maintained and clean. They are the perfect place to bring a picnic and swim suit, and spend the day lazing, which, in my opinion, is the best way to spend a day.