The Yellowstone River is one of our nation’s most remarkable treasures. It’s the last major free-flowing river in the lower 48 states, traveling 680 dam-free miles. The Yellowstone River begins as a melting snowbank on Yount’s Peak deep in the Wyoming wilderness south of Yellowstone Park. From here it runs north then east until it joins the Missouri River in North Dakota.
Salmon Lake is one of a chain of natural lakes located along the Clearwater River in northwest Montana. The 630-acre lake is popular with anglers, boaters, campers, and bird watchers. Located on the lake, Salmon Lake State Park provides excellent access, and getting there couldn’t be easier. It’s right on MT Hwy 83 about 7 miles north of the Junction of Highways 83 & 200 (Clearwater Junction).
Pine Creek rushes out of the Absaroka Mountains into the Yellowstone River in the heart of Paradise Valley, providing two great hikes. A beautiful 2 1/2 mile roundtrip hike follows the creek to Pine Creek Falls. Backpackers and serious hikers can head on another 4 miles to reach Pine Creek Lake. Visit here once and you’ll discover why Pine Creek is the most popular hike in the Livingston area.
Painted Rocks Recreation Area and Painted Rocks State Park are located in the Bitterroot Valley south of Missoula, MT. Named for the green, yellow, and orange lichens that cover the rock walls, Painted Rocks Reservoir is popular for fishing, water skiing, and all other types of boating. On a typical summer day, you’ll find everything from ski boats to stand-up paddleboards and everyone is having a great time.
Mystic Lake is a favorite destination for hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, and hunters in the Bozeman, Montana area. Mystic Lake can be reached from a couple of different trailheads but the access in Bear Canyon is the shortest. Located about 5 miles east of Bozeman, the Bear Canyon area offers hiking, mountain biking, and cross country ski opportunities.
The Little Belt Mountains are in the Helena Lewis and Clark National Forest southeast of Great Falls, Montana. There’s a lot of different access areas providing a variety of camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation opportunities. For motorized recreation enthusiasts, the Little Belts offer many miles of trails and roads to explore.
Crystal Lake offers camping, hiking, and fishing located in an island of wild mountains surrounded by prairie. The lake is in the Big Snowy Mountains which are one of the small “island” ranges that dot central Montana. The mountains are south of Lewistown, MT, and offer camping, fishing, hiking, and backpacking.
Cooney State Park is one of the most visited recreation destinations in south-central Montana. Located within an hour’s drive of Billings, MT, Cooney offers great fishing for trout and walleye and is popular for ice fishing in the winter. Cooney is great for water skiing, wakeboarding, jet skis, and all types of water recreation. Cooney State Park offers camping, picnicking, hiking, and cross-country skiing. No wonder it’s so popular – Cooney Reservoir and State Park have something for almost everyone.
Twin Lakes are probably the most popular hiking destination in Montana’s Crazy Mountains. The Crazy Mountains are an island mountain range north of Interstate 90 in the Livingston/Big Timber area. The trailhead for hiking to Twin Lakes is located in Big Timber Canyon near the Halfmoon Campground. This popular access is the beginning point for the Big Timber Creek Falls, the Crazy Mountain Crossing backpacking trail, the trail to Blue Lake, and the trail to Twin Lakes. If you visit, expect to find other hikers and campers enjoying this spectacular area.
Big Timber Creek flows out of Montana’s Crazy Mountains north of Big Timber, MT. Running east out of the mountains, the creek gradually turns southward and flows into the Yellowstone River just east of Big Timber. Most of the creek travels through private lands but the headwater areas are on the Custer Gallatin National Forest.