You are here:   Home » Education » Discover Montana's Ecosystems » Plains Grassland » FWP Lands

FWP Lands

Plains Grassland

Chief Plenty Coups (State Park)

Park/Visitor Center Hours

  • May 1–September
  • Park open 8 AM to 8 PM, 7 days a week
  • Visitor Center open 10 AM to 5 PM
  • October 1-April 30
  • Park open 8 AM to 5PM, Monday-Friday
  • Visitor Center open by appointment (406) 252-1289

Plenty Coups (Aleek-chea-ahoosh, meaning "many achievements") was a man of war - and then a man of peace - whose vision has helped bridge a gap between two cultures. Recognized for his bravery and leadership, he was made a chief of the Apsáalooke (Crow) tribe by age 28.

When Plenty Coups gave up his nomadic ways in 1884, he became one of the first Apsáalooke to own and settle on a farm, which was deeded to him through the federal Indian Allotment Act. On his 320-acre tract, located a half mile east of Pryor, he opened a general store, built a home, and tilled the earth until his death in 1932 at age 84.

At that time, as requested by Plenty Coups and his wife, Strikes the Iron, 195 acres of his land was made into a public park. Upon his death, the Apsáalooke people voted to designate him as their last traditional tribal chief.

Situated within the Crow Indian Reservation in south-central Montana, 40 minutes south of Billings, this day-use park preserves the log home, sacred spring, and farmstead of Chief Plenty Coups. Plan at least an hour to walk the grounds and browse through the visitor center that commemorates the life of this remarkable man and his efforts to lead his people in adopting the lifestyle of the white man. The tranquil, shaded picnic area is a beautiful spot to enjoy lunch and absorb the serenity of this special place.

For more information about Chief Plenty Coups State Park, read A Place of Peace. Check out the current weather conditions at Chief Plenty Coups. Educators, the Indian Education For All Lesson Plan contains Social Studies and Media Literacy content for 4th graders.



First Peoples Buffalo Jump (State Park)

Formerly known as Ulm Pishkun State Park, this is one of the largest prehistoric bison kill sites in the United States. A visitor center and interpretive trails tell the story of the people, the animals, and the landscape of the buffalo culture.

For over six hundred years, Indians stampeded buffalo over the mile-long cliff. Now, the top of the jump provides expansive panoramic views of the Rocky Mountain Front, the Missouri River valley, and the buttes and grasslands that characterize this High Plains setting. Plan at least a two-hour stop in this day-use-only park.

Montana State Parks, in cooperation with the public, developed the park management plan. The plan focuses staff efforts on managing the park's natural and cultural resources, visitor services, park infrastructure, tourism, and educational programs.

For more information about First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park, read Where the Buffalo Fell, a 2003 Montana Outdoors article.

When traveling between Cascade and Great Falls on I-15, tune your radio to 1610 AM to hear some interesting facts about the park.

Check out the current weather conditions in Ulm.

Download the First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park Brochure. Educators, this Indian Education For All Lesson Plan contains U.S. History, Science, Social Studies, and Writing content for 11th and 12th graders.


Giant Springs (State Park)

Set aside a whole afternoon to experience this scenic and historic freshwater springs site. First recorded by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, it is one of the largest freshwater springs in the world, flowing at 156 million gallons of water per day! In this day-use park, you can picnic by the Missouri River, visit the fish hatchery and visitor center, walk along the Rivers Edge Trail, view nearby Rainbow Falls overlook, or visit the neighboring Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center operated by the U.S. Forest Service.

The North Shore Conservation Easement lands provide big, game, upland game bird and waterfowl hunting opportunities. For more information look at the hunting map and regulations.

To learn more about the park, read Gushing Over Giant Springs.

Check out the current weather conditions in Great Falls. This Indian Education For All lesson plan is designed for 11th and 12th graders.



Lake Elmo (State Park)

This urban day-use park is a great place to swim, sailboard, fish, picnic, birdwatch, or take a stroll. Plan to stretch your legs on a walk around the lake or stop by the FWP Region 5 headquarters on the south shore to fish from Roger's Pier or tour the interpretive center (weekdays from 8 to 5). Non-motorized boating only is allowed. There are two reservable group use shelters for social events and a playground. A special feature of Lake Elmo is its Dog Park. The 200-square-foot fenced-in water-adjacent area is located on the west side of the lake. Each visitor is allowed a maximum of two dogs in the park. Dogs must have up-to-date vaccinations, current licenses, respond to voice commands, and be in visual control. Dogs must be 4 months or older. Dogs in heat may not enter the park. Remember that dogs must be on a leash in all other areas of Lake Elmo State Park. Enjoy this wonderful oasis in the city with your canine friend and be sure to clean up your pet's waste. Check out the current weather conditions in Billings.



Makoshika (State Park)

See the Makoshika State Park Management Plan for more information about management of this park. Read more about this park in "A Good Time in Montana's Badlands", a Montana Outdoors 2002 article. Also be sure to visit the Friends of Makoshika Web site for more information and photos of Makoshika State Park. Makoshika is part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, so be sure to visit The Montana Dinosaur Trail Web site for more information. There are 15 dinosaur museums throughout Montana. Teachers, this Indian Education For All Lesson Plan contains History and Science content for 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. Check out the current weather conditions in Makoshika. Makoshika State Park Brochure


Pictograph Cave (State Park)

************************************************************************************************************ A new, sandstone-hued interpretive center rises at the foot of rimrocks where Pictograph Cave has drawn human beings for over 3,000 years. Designed for high energy efficiency, the center features a classroom, restrooms, gift shop and indoor exhibits with replicas of artifacts - such as a wooden paint applicator and a bone turtle effigy - found during a Works Progress Administration excavation. A short 5-mile drive from Billings, the park is an ideal spot to enjoy a shady picnic, add to your birding life list, attend an interpretive program, or just take a stroll in the quiet outdoors. The Pictograph, Middle and Ghost cave complex was home to generations of prehistoric hunters. With its abundant wildlife and vegetation, the fertile river valley provided an ideal campsite for travelers. These caves were the site of Montana's first professional archaeological studies and excavations beginning in 1937. Over 30,000 artifacts have been identified from the park. A short paved trail allows visitors to view the rock paintings, known as pictographs, that are still visible in Pictograph Cave, the largest of the three. Interpretive signs tell the story of the archaelogical studies.

Park and Visitor Center Hours: April - May: Park hours are 10am - 6pm (7 days a week). Visitor Center hours 10am - 5pm (7 days a week)

May 28, 2012 (Memorial Day)through Labor Day the park will be open from 8am to 8pm daily - 7 days a week. The Park will be open both Memorial Day (May 28)and Labor Day (September 3). Visitor Center hours during this time will be from 9am - 7pm (7 days a week).

October through March, Park open 10 AM-5 PM, Visitor Center open 10 AM-4 PM, Wednesday-Sunday. For more information about archaeology and artwork images from the caves, visit Teachers, here's an Indian Education For All Lesson Plan for 4th graders that includes art, language arts, and social studies content. Download the Pictograph Cave State Park brochure.


Pirogue Island (State Park)

Isolated and shaded by cottonwood trees, this Yellowstone River island offers visitors an excellent spot to view wildlife and to hunt for moss agates. Because this rich riparian area contains abundant water and plant life, it provides the perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife. The site is a haven for waterfowl, bald eagles, fox squirrels, and whitetail and mule deer. Captain William Clark and his men, Sacagawea and baby Pomp, are believed to have camped on Pirogue Island on their return trip east to St. Louis on July 29, 1806. Interpretive signs in the park discuss the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery and more history of this island. The island can be accessed by floating or, during low water, by foot through a small channel.



Difficult Accessibility Difficult Accessibility