Missouri Headwaters State Park flies under the radar as far as Montana parks go, but if you give it the chance, it’ll blow you away. Just a short jaunt from Three Forks (as in, five miles away by car or bike), it’s about as easy to get to as you can get. Here are a few of the top reasons to check it out.
Three of the Mightiest Rivers Meet
Two of the three forks of the Missouri come to a head here in the park, joining to form the longest river in the United States. Seeing this significant landmark is a joy in a park with several miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, a campground, several historic structures and plenty of interpretive offerings. In the warmer months, enjoy their speaker series on summer Saturday nights. The riverbanks make the perfect spot for a picnic, either with checkered blanket in hand or at one of the park’s picnic tables. Make it gourmet with some food to-go from the Sac Bar, and get ready to chow down in nature.
Millennia of human history
Before Lewis and Clark, this region has evidence of human history dating back more than 12,000 years. Rich and storied time has a place at the Headwaters, where you can find ancient pictographs painted in red on the rock under a rugged overhang, the park’s own Pictograph Cave. Imagine being one of the first people to pass through this country as you stroll along the trail at the top of Fort Rock overlooking the confluence of the Missouri. Descend to the riverbanks to scope out interpretive displays that teach about the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the science behind the mighty Missouri and the history of native peoples in the area.
Bike from Three Forks
With bikes available at the Sacajawea, it’s just a quick jaunt on the Three Forks paved bike paths to head out to Headwaters. This relatively flat and level path takes you around the golf course and the Three Forks ponds to jet under the interstate and across the Madison River. The winding way through wetlands and river habitat just before the park makes a great opportunity to enjoy viewing wildlife and varied plant life. Less than five miles each way on the bike paths mean an easy trip from town.
Wilds of Wildlife
This is a prime spot for birding, so grab your binoculars, bring your field guide along, and let your big year begin. You never know what you might spot on an expedition to headwaters, with the possibility to see anything from beaver to mule deer.
Fishing for Days
Year-long fishing opportunities in this area make Missouri Headwaters a haven for fly fishermen and women from around the world. The boat launch available at the park lets you set out to take a float, or you can cast from just beyond the bank if you throw on some waders. If it doesn’t feel right to head out on your own, book a fly fishing lodging package through the Sacajawea Hotel to go with a professional guide.
If you enjoyed this blog, take a look at some of our other related articles:
- An Itinerary for the 20-Hour Getaway to the Sacajawea Hotel
- Taking to the Water: Floating and Canoeing Around the Missouri Headwaters
- Fishing the Missouri Headwaters: What You Need to Know
- Headwaters Adventure Guide