The 5 Largest State Parks in Montana

Hoodoos at Makoshika State Park at sunset, Montana, North America, USA
© Laurens Hoddenbagh/Shutterstock.com

Written by Sarah Feaster

Published: March 5, 2024

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The Treasure State. Big Sky Country. Land of the Shining Mountains. The Last Best Place. Whatever you like to call it, Montana is a picturesque refuge with no shortage of state parks. From the continent’s rarest mammal to the lumbering and intimidating grizzly bear, a great variety of wildlife call the lush forests of Montana home. Potentially dangerous animals aside, there are more than 170 State Parks in Montana for you to explore. Keep reading to learn more about the five largest state parks in Montana.

5. Wild Horse Island State Park

Arrowleaf balsamroot wildflowers in spring on Wild Horse Island State Park near Dayton, Montana, USA

If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll come across some wild horses!

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

Wild Horse Island State Park, covering 2,160 acres in Big Arm, Montana, is number five on our list of largest Montana state parks. However, in addition to its size, there are two other factors that make this park truly unique: it’s only accessible by boat and there are still a handful of wild horses that inhabit the park. Wild Horse Island is located in Flathead Lake, one of the top 10 clearest lakes in the United States. Visitors can enjoy hiking, boating, and swimming, as well as observe songbirds, waterfowl, bald eagles, falcons, bighorn sheep, and mule deer that call the area home.

4. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Limestone formations at Lewis and Clark Caverns in Montana, USA. This limestone was formed by layers of calcium-rich organisms that died in a sea that was present around 325 and 365 million years ago

The limestone caverns at Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park are the most highly decorated in all of North America.

©Ronnie Chua/Shutterstock.com

Fourth on the list of Montana’s largest state parks is Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. This 3,015-acre park is home to the most highly-decorated limestone caverns in all of North America and one of the largest limestone caverns in the Northwest. However, the caverns can only be accessed by guided tours. So, visit their website ahead of time to check availability and purchase tickets. In addition to the caverns, visitors can enjoy biking, hiking, and camping, as well as a variety of educational events held through the summer events. Lastly, in addition to the famous geologic wonders, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is Montana’s first and best-known state park.

3. Rosebud Battlefield State Park

Rosebud Battlefield State Park

Rosebud Battlefield State Park is a must-see destination for history fanatics.

©zrfphoto/iStock via Getty Images

Montana’s third largest park isn’t just a big deal within the state – it’s also a national historic landmark. Rosebud Battlefield State Park is a rolling prairie located in Decker, Montana, and covers 3,052 acres. This gorgeous site is most well-known for the Battle of the Rosebud, which took place on June 17, 1876. The Battle of the Rosebud was part of the Great Sioux War, known as the most significant Indian struggle in American history. This battle was a significant victory for Native Americans and is noteworthy because the Native Americans fought together intensely as an army to defend their land. Due to their defeat at the Battle of the Rosebud, Brigadier General George Crook and his troops were unable to participate in the Battle of Little Bighorn, which also resulted in a loss that shocked the nation.

In addition to surrounding you in rich history, Rosebud Battlefield State Park is a mostly untouched, quiet, and remote park, offering opportunities for visitors to picnic, hike, and watch wildlife. Take in the beautiful views at various historical sites, such as Crook’s Hill, Conical Hill, and the Kobold Buffalo Jump.

2. Fish Creek State Park

Bull Trout

Fish Creek State Park is home to a variety of trout, especially natives like bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout.

©Maximillian cabinet/Shutterstock.com

Our second-place park, Fish Creek State Park in Mineral County, Montana, covers more than 5,600 acres and is a stronghold for Montana’s native trout. In addition to bull trout and westslope cutthroat trout, Fish Creek is also home to wild rainbow and brown trouts. Outside of the water, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks estimates that 113 bird, 47 mammal, three amphibian, and four reptile species call the park home. Visitors to Fish Creek can appreciate picturesque views from Williams Peak and enjoy watching wildlife around the crystal-clear, emerald pools. Spend time fishing, camping, hiking, hunting, berry picking, and horseback riding year-round in this quiet and secluded environment. Lastly, the largest ponderosa pine in the state is also in Fish Creek State Park!

1. Makoshika State Park

Hoodoos at Makoshika State Park at sunset, Montana, North America, USA

The stunning badlands formations at Makoshika State Park are one of many reasons this park draws a crowd.

©Laurens Hoddenbagh/Shutterstock.com

Finally, at number one, we have Makoshika State Park, located in Glendive, Montana. At 11,538 acres, this park is a behemoth – but that’s not the reason it’s so popular with visitors. If you can brave the sweltering heat and sizzling sun, Makoshika State Park will reward you with stunning views of badlands formations and allow you to step back in time. This park is home to not only the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, but also a Triceratops! Check out these and much more at their various paleontology displays and activities as part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. In addition to dinosaurs, Makoshika State Park offers scenic drives, hiking trails, camping, a picnic area, and an outdoor amphitheater. However, when you visit, make sure you watch out for rattlesnakes!


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About the Author

Sarah Feaster is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on outdoor recreation and dogs. A 2009 graduate of Lycoming College, Sarah is a creative and strategic marketing professional with more than a decade of experience crafting captivating content. When she's not in front of her computer, Sarah is typically losing herself in the Pennsylvania woods or enjoying the sunshine from her SUP - but either way, she's always accompanied by her two dogs.

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