Sommers Beach State Park is Montana’s newest state park. It sits on the northwest shore of Flathead Lake and offers public access to the lake. The park is 106 acres in size with about 1/2 mile of shoreline. At high lake levels, shallow water extends out from the lakeshore. However, when the lake level drops in the summer, sandy beaches are exposed providing great swimming and sunbathing.
Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is off I 90 about 22 miles west of Bozeman, MT. The park offers hiking, biking, and opportunities to explore an iconic Native American archeological site. The 640-acre park is a perfect place to learn about buffalo jumps and why they were so important to the Indians.
The rock art and artifacts found at Pictograph Cave State Park provide a look into the lives of the area’s first residents. For nearly 10,000 years the caves have been used by humans who left drawings on the walls and signs of daily life in the caves. Three alcoves, or “caves” make up the park but only one holds pictographs. A trail leads from the visitor center to the alcoves and the park can be visited in an hour or so. The park is just 5 miles from I90 and Billings, MT and is definitely worth a visit.
At the Missouri Headwaters State Park three great rivers; the Madison, the Jefferson, and the Gallatin join to form the Missouri River. The Missouri flows 2,341 miles downstream until it joins the Mississippi River and ultimately reaches the ocean in New Orleans. In 1805 the Lewis & Clark expedition became the first known European explorers to reach the area. They traveled up the Missouri and named the three rivers they found coming together here.
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).
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.
This tiny state park is only 98 acres in size and offers visitors few amenities. The park really only has one thing – Prairie Dogs! Greycliff Prairie Dog State Park is home to a colony of black-tailed prairie dogs that are easy to spot and fun to watch. The park is 16 miles east of Big Timber, MT right at an I 90 exit making it perfect for quick visits.
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.