S. Fk. Deep Creek
Pine Creek H,C
Passage Creek Falls
Big Timber Area
Creek Falls H,C,V
Boulder Meadows H,C
Twin Lakes H,C
Lava Lake H
Little Belt Mountains
MT Railroading V
Gap Wind Farm V
Beartooth Highway V
Rocks Rec Area V,C
Lake State Park V,C
Painted Rocks Recreation
Area and State Park
Painted Rocks Recreation Area and Painted Rocks State Park are located
in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, MT. Painted Rocks provides
great outdoor recreation opportunities year round but is especially
popular as a water recreation site during the summer months. The lake
offers great fishing opportunities and is a popular place for water
skiing and all other types of boating. On a typical summer day you will
find everything from ski boats to foot-powered paddle boats and
everyone is having a great time.
the Painted Rocks Recreation Area is nestled in the mountains at 4,713
ft., access is quite easy. 17 miles south of Hamilton, MT, Highway 93
intersects with the West Fork Road (Route 473). The recreation area is
about 20 miles southeast on this road. The paved road follows the West
Fork of the Bitterroot River and makes for a very scenic drive. Painted
Rocks Reservoir, the centerpiece of the recreation area, is formed by a
dam stretching across the West Fork canyon. As you approach the
reservoir on Route 473 the dam becomes quite obvious.
Beautiful blue waters and scenic mountain vistas make Painted Rocks
Lake a great place to spend some time. Rarely crowded, the lake offers
recreation opportunities for all types of boaters and anglers.
The 565 acre Painted Rocks
Reservoir was created in 1939 when the dam was first undertaken. The
dam is 143 feet tall and stretches 800 feet and can store up to 45,000
acre-feet of water. Painted Rocks Reservoir is an important water
storage facility. Each year the reservoir is filled and water is
released all summer to support irrigation, stockwater and to benefit
fish & wildlife. The annual filling and draw-down of the reservoir
means that the lake level can change a lot depending on the time of
Painted Rocks State Park is
operated by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks as a "primitive" park.
The park is open daily on a year-round basis. The park itself is
actually rather small. The campground, boat launch area and picnic area
take up almost all of the property that is part of the park. However,
most of the surrounding lands are National Forest and there are
two additional recreation sites maintained by the Forest Service.
Painted Rocks State Park is a fee area.
For day use, there is no charge for any Montana resident. However, for
non-residents there is a $5.00 fee for day use. All campers are
required to pay fees which vary according to campsite type and other
factors. Download a Painted
Rocks State Park Brochure
Little Boulder access is
at the north end of the lake. It is paved with a good boat ramp and
plenty of parking. There is no camping at the Little Boulder access but
there are vault toilets. The Little Boulder access is the most popular
access for day use boating. When the lake level is drawn down in late
summer, this may be the only boat ramp that reaches water deep enough
for a boat launch.
Little Boulder and Painted Rocks State Park, the Slate Creek access is
split into a developed camping area and the boat launch area. Slate
Creek is a major tributary to the reservoir and there is a forest
service access road that leads east, away from the lake. The developed
camping area is just up this road. There are 7 sites with picnic tables
and fire rings. The campground has vault toilets. The boat launch area
is reached by a short spur road running down to the lake shore. While
there are no developed camping sites here, it is not uncommon to find
trailers camping here. There is a vault toilet at this site.
Fishing is always popular at Painted Rocks. There are six fish species
found in the lake, including cutthroat and rainbow trout, as well as
the native bull trout. According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks,
the lake receives up to 2,000
angling days per year.
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