The Basics

Montanas State Park System

Because of the exceptional recreational opportunities on Montanas federal lands, the diversity of opportunities available in the Montana State Park System is sometimes overlooked. This would be a mistake, as the true picture of Montana's natural, cultural, and recreational resources is not complete without the state parks.

Montana's State Park System was created in 1939 when the Montana Legislature created a State Parks Commission. Lewis and Clark Caverns became the states first state park when the site was transferred to Montana from the federal government. Today, the network of sites has grown to forty-one, in addition to a number of affiliated sites.

State parks are found in every region of the state, offering a wide range of landscapes, natural features, history, and recreational opportunities. Some parks feature a diversity of visitor facilities such as showers, boat launch sites, and concessions, while others are much less developed.

State Park Information: For more detailed state park information, call the Montana Parks Division at 444-3750. Hearing impaired recreationists may call the TDD number at 444-1200.

Camping: Camping is offered at many state parks for a modest fee. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis; there is no comprehensive, statewide reservation system. While services vary between individual parks, most sites have a picnic table, a fire ring or grill, and parking for one vehicle and RV.

Group Camping: Several state parks have sites set aside for group use. A special brochure is available with more detailed information on group camping opportunities at state parks and fishing access sites.

Rental Cabins: Rustic cabins are available for rent at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Call 287-3541 for reservations.

Day Use Parks: Some Montana state parks are open for a range of day uses, but do not allow overnight stays.

Primitive Service Parks: A primitive parks system was established by the Montana Legislature in 1993. Primitive parks have a minimum of services available, with visitors expected to pack out their own trash.

Season: Some parks are open for day use and camping year-round, while others close at least some of their facilities during the winter. For the most current information, call the number listed for each park.

Fees: Day use fees are charged at many state parks. Purchase of an annual State Parks Passport allows free entry to all Montana State Parks. Camping fees vary according to the level of service provided. Camping fees are charged per camper unit for a campsite. A camper unit is defined as a motorized vehicle, motor home, camping bus, pull-type camper, tent, or any other device designed for sleeping. A self-registration system is in use at most state parks. Recreation use fees are also charged for designated group use facilities, guided tours, and other services. Fee information is available from the individual parks. Special floater fees are in effect on the Smith River.

Picnicking: Many state parks have developed facilities for picnicking, and some include special facilities for group use. Consult the data given with each state park description.

Reprinted from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks brochure.

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