1. Pictograph Cave State Park, Billings
Pictograph Cave State Park has been a designated National Historic Landmark since 1964 because of its archaeological significance. Prehistoric hunters who camped in Pictograph Cave left behind rock paintings dating back to 2,000 years old. Visitors can hike, view the rock paintings, picnic or explore the Interpretive Display and Gift Shop.
2. Brush Lake State Park, Dagmar
White, sandy beaches in Montana? Brush Lake State Park is something you have to see to believe. You can go swimming or boating in Brush Lake, though there are no fish due to the mineral make-up of the water.
3. Hell Creek State Park, Jordan
Come for the water sports, stay for the scenery. Located on the Hell Creek Arm of Fort Peck Lake, this park has all the amenities a camper could need. The lake also has great walleye fishing.
4. Painted Rocks State Park, Darby
The Bitterroot Mountains are gorgeous, and Painted Rock State Park is exceptionally stunning. Take a break from reality this summer and enjoy boating, fishing, hiking and camping in a scenic setting. Painted Rocks got its name from the green, orange and yellow lichens that cover the rock walls of the cliffs.
5. Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls
Giant Springs was discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and is home to one of the largest freshwater springs in the country as well as the world’s shortest river, the Roe River. It’s a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic and a walk.
6. Wayfarers State Park, Bigfork
Want to see the best sunsets over Flathead Lake? Come to Wayfarers State Park, which is located on the northwest shore. This park has 40 campsites and is a great place to view wildlife.
7. Whitefish Lake State Park, Whitefish
Summer is the best time to explore Whitefish State Park. Not only is it located less than a mile from Whitefish trail hiking and biking trail system, the park offers great outdoors options like swimming, boating, water skiing, camping and fishing.
8. Thompson Falls State Park, Thompson Falls
Enjoy some peace and quiet, nature walks, bird watching and swimming at this state park, located on the Clark Fork River. When you’re ready to return to the real world, you’ll find a golf course, museum and several restaurants nearby.
9. Fort Owen State Park, Stevensville
This is a great park for exploring the site of many Montana “first,” such as the first Catholic Church, the first sawmill, the first white settlement and the first school for settlers. Fort Owen State Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
10. Lost Creek State Park, Anaconda
A short hike at Lost Creek State Park will take you to Lost Creek Falls, a 50 foot waterfall. You might also see wildlife like mountain goats and bighorn sheep hanging out on the cliffs.
11. Missouri Headwaters State Park, Three Forks
This is the place where the Jefferson, Madison and Gallatin rivers merge to form the 2,300 mile Missouri River. The Missouri Headwaters area was a geographical focal point that was important to traders, settlers and early Native Americans.
12. Makoshika State Park, Glendive
The list wouldn’t be complete without a spot for the largest state park in Montana, Makoshika. Walk a real dinosaur trail, learn about state history at visitor center and enjoy the views of the badlands.