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Family walking near the Missouri headwaters.

About State Parks

Montana has 55 State Parks where you can enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more while discovering some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.

A letter from our Administrator

Greetings Montana!
 
I wanted to introduce myself, especially to those of you who I have not had the pleasure to meet in person. I’m extremely honored and humbled to have the opportunity to lead Montana State Parks into the future.
 
Growing up on a dairy farm in Minnesota, I spent most of my childhood outside on pasture cow paths and trails through the woods. Serving as a wildland firefighter (on a Hotshot crew based out of Arizona) brought me to the western part of the US, and I immediately fell in love with Montana. I’ve lived all over this amazing state for the past 15 years, including five years in Eastern Montana, working as a park manager and in other positions. Throughout this time, I’ve developed a dynamic approach to build working partnerships.
 
I am extremely passionate about outdoor recreation, especially trails and public land access for all. Our parks and trail systems play a vital role in our well-being, especially our overall health, our economy and in our communities. With our state parks and trails systems, we provide meaningful and satisfying outdoor experiences for all users, regardless of their age or ability. These experiences reaffirm a sense of connection with the natural environment and provide opportunities for an appreciation of Montana’s natural and cultural heritage.
 
Montana State Parks has a lot of work ahead to build a stronger, more resilient Parks system for future generations. I promise to bring fresh leadership, energy and direction, especially moving forward with the Governor’s Parks in Focus Initiative, implementing our Strategic Plan and working with the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board. Through our state parks and affiliated programs we have the opportunity to help build a healthier and more prosperous Montana.
 
See you out in the field and most likely on a trail!
 
Beth R. Shumate
Montana State Parks Administrator

Our Mission

Our Mission is to preserve and protect our state’s cultural, natural, and recreational heritage for the benefit of our families, communities, and local economies. Our objectives are to provide excellent land stewardship, public safety, and service through recreation, innovation, and education. Our goals are to provide an extraordinary experience for our visitors and to keep our state park system strong now and for generations to come.

Our History

The development of the state parks system in Montana was characteristic of many western states responding to the nationwide call for parks that began in the 1920s.

Advocates of state parks in Montana took early direction from the National Park Service and the National Conference on State Parks, which began in 1921. The beginnings and development of the Montana State Park system trace no straight easy routes. In its first years, it had only a director and possibilities.

Today we are a thriving 54 state park system with sites on Flathead Lake and sites significant to Montana history and statehood, to parks rich in Native-American culture and heritage.

 

  • 1936 - The State Land Board accepts a land donation from the Northern Pacific Railroad and passes a resolution establishing Morrison Cave (also referred to as Lewis and Clark Caverns) establishing Montana's first state park.
  • 1939 - Legislature establishes a State Park System and Commission.
  • 1941 - Lone Pine becomes a state park.
  • 1953 - State parks program transferred to the State Highway Commission. State Parks Commission abolished.
  • 1953 - Makoshika becomes a state park and today remains the largest park in our 54 state park system.
  • 1954 - Bannack becomes a state park.
  • 1960 - Smith River becomes a state park.
  • 1961 - Chief Plenty Coups State Park established.
  • 1965 - State Parks are transferred to the Fish and Game Commission.
  • 1969 - State Parks administer camping fees.
  • 1970 - Cooney becomes a state park.
  • 1979 - Department name change from "Fish and Game" to "Fish, Wildlife and Parks."
  • 1987 - Legislature ends general fund allocations to the Parks Division.
  • 1989 - Vehicle entrance fee established.
  • 1994 - State Parks division’s programs for the public were showing success beyond expectations. 26 parks were hosting annual special events, volunteers were plentiful, and the division was benefiting from public support.
  • 2001 - Travelers' Rest becomes a state park.This park is steeped in Native-American and Lewis & Clark history.
  • 2004 - Annual Vehicle Registration fee established, eliminating entrance fee for residents.
  • 2010 - Economic Impact Survey shows that Montana State Parks had nearly 2 million visitors that year, generating $289 million dollars for local economies with visitors spending money in tourism industry related areas such as grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, hotels, retail, and more. This created the demand for 1,600 tourism industry related jobs in Montana.
  • 2013 - Legislature establishes the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board.
  • 2014 - Montana State Parks celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Our Funding

Since 2004, when Montanans register their vehicles, this support is the largest source of funding for Montana's 55 State Parks.

  • This support means no daily entrance fees for residents when you visit our State Parks.
  • Your support helps our parks with maintenance and operations.

For just $9, it costs less than one movie ticket or a couple of fancy cups of coffee to have fun, make memories, and support Montana's natural, cultural, and recreation heritage now and for generations to come.

Where does the $9 vehicle registration fee go?

Funds are used for maintenance and operational costs at these state-owned facilities and for trail grants:

  • $6.74   Montana's 55 State Parks
  • $0.50   Montana's 336 Fishing Access Sites
  • $0.39   Virginia City and Nevada City Heritage Sites
  • $1.37   Community Recreation Trail Grants
What about visitors who are not residents of Montana?

Since nonresidents do not contribute to Montana's park system through the vehicle registration fee, they pay a $6 daily entrance fee per vehicle at a Montana State Park.

Out-of-state visitors can purchase a Nonresident Entrance Pass, which allows for an unlimited number of visits and discounted camping rates at one low price of $50.

Purchase a Nonresident Entrance Pass online at the FWP License Service.

How are Montana State Parks funded?

Classification and Investment Strategy Policy

The Montana State Parks Classification and Investment Strategy Policy guides strategic investment of resources into the park system.

The policy supports the Montana State Parks Strategic Plan, adopted in 2015, and addresses key recommendations from the 2018 Parks Division Legislative Audit and the governor-appointed Parks In Focus (PIF) Commission. The audit identified a need for regularly ranking and reviewing resources for investment in capital projects, maintenance, and state park operations. Similarly, the PIF Commission recommended revision of the existing classification policy to help Parks strengthen its investment strategy and focus on fostering critical partnerships for the state park system.

The Classification and Investment Strategy satisfies both recommendations by providing the Parks Division with a framework for the investment of human and fiscal resources across the park system in alignment with visitor needs and expectations while resolving significant major maintenance and capital improvement issues that represent public health and safety risks.

Montana State Parks and Recreation Board

 

About the Board

The Montana State Parks & Recreation Board is a citizen-led board appointed by the governor that consists of five members, one member from each district in the state. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Director, Martha Williams, serves as secretary to the board.

To find out more about the board, see the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board information sheet (200 KB)

Board Members

Mary Moe

District 3 (North Central)

Mary Moe, Great Falls

Mary Moe had a distinctive career in education, most recently serving as the Deputy Commissioner for Two-Year Education for the Montana University System, and served as a state legislator.

 

Scott Brown

District 5 (Southeast)

Scott Brown, Billings

Scott Brown is the owner of The Base Camp in Helena and Billings and is an avid outdoor enthusiast.

 

Russ Kipp (Chair)
District 2
P.O. Box 460473
Polaris, MT 59406

 

Jody Loomis
District 1

357 Cabin Road
Helena, MT 59602

 

Kathy McLane
District 4

377 FAS 254
Glendive, MT 59330

Contact Information

Reservation Questions

Reserve America
Phone:1 (855) 922-6768
Website: montanastateparks.reserveamerica.com

General Information

Montana State Parks Headquarters
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Phone:(406) 444-3750
Fax:(406) 444-4952
Email: fwpprk@mt.gov

Media Contact
Patrick Doyle
Marketing and Communications Manager
Montana State Parks
1420 East Sixth Avenue
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Office:(406) 444-3818
Cell:(406) 422-9809
Email: pdoyle@mt.gov

Northwest Montana (Region 1)
490 North Meridian Road
Kalispell, MT 59901
David Landstrom
Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 571-4574
Fax: (406) 257-0349
Email: dlandstrom@mt.gov

West Central (Region 2)
3201 Spurgin Road
Missoula, MT 59804
Loren Flynn
Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 542-5500
Fax: (406) 542-5517
Email: lflynn2@mt.gov

Southwest (Region 3)
1400 South 19th Avenue
Bozeman, MT 59718
Betsey LaBroad
Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 994-3552
Fax: (406) 994-4042
Email: Betsey.LaBroad@mt.gov

North Central (Region 4)
4600 Giant Springs Road
Great Falls, MT 59405
John Taillie
Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 454-5859
Fax: (406) 761-8477
Email: jtaillie@mt.gov

South Central (Region 5)
2300 Lake Elmo Drive
Billings, MT 59105
Terri Walters
Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 247-2940
Email: twalters@mt.gov

Eastern (Regions 6, 7)
352 I-94 Business Loop
Miles City, MT 59301
Brian Burky
Interim Regional Park Manager
Phone: (406) 757-2298
Fax: (406) 234-4368
Email: Brian.Burky@mt.gov

 

Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

 

  • Identifying major outdoor recreation trends, needs, and issues of statewide importance, both at the state and regional level
  • Evaluating the supply and demand of recreation facilities and resources
  • Providing guidance to direct Montana’s stateside apportionment of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program
  • Providing strategies, priorities, and actions for implementation to enhance recreation over the next five years
Read the SCORP 
Aerial view of Giant Springs

Heritage Resources Strategic Plan

Enhancing Heritage Resources in Montana State Parks

In 2016, Montana State Parks developed a system-wide heritage resource plan with extensive staff and stakeholder input. The plan addresses the unique challenges and opportunities of heritage sites in the park system, including the seven National Historic Landmarks as well as 25 National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) sites and NRHP-eligible sites. The final strategic plan was approved by the Montana State Parks & Recreation Board on February 17, 2017.

The heritage resources strategic plan:

  1. Evaluates strengths, challenges, options, responses of internal/external stakeholders, and effectiveness of the heritage resource program and its existing capacity.
  2. Assesses and prioritize the most critical heritage resource needs and issues in state parks consistent with the park classification system.
  3. Develops direction for heritage resource program priorities for management across the park system as well as recommendations for improving statewide coordination and management.
Stakeholder Engagement

Stakeholder engagement was an important part of developing the Heritage Resources Strategic Plan. Public feedback, received from a survey, workshops, and comments on the draft plan, is reflected throughout the key findings, goals and recommendations.

Questions?

Contact Rachel Reckin, Heritage Resources Program Manager, 444-3756, Rachel.Reckin@mt.gov

Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

Montana’s five-year strategy and vision for outdoor recreation management.

The Montana Outdoor Recreation Plan, also known as the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP), is the state’s comprehensive plan for outdoor recreation and conservation management and planning. The document helps all levels of public land managers and private recreation providers meet needs pertaining to outdoor recreation. SCORP represents a collaborative effort between Montana’s diverse recreation providers, the tourism community, and residents; and provides a strategy to guide management of Montana’s outdoor recreation resources in a holistic and effective manner.

The plan:

  • Identifies major outdoor recreation trends, needs, and issues of statewide importance, both at the state and regional level
  • Evaluates the supply and demand of recreation facilities and resources
  • Provides guidance to direct Montana’s stateside apportionment of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program
  • Provides strategies, priorities, and actions for implementation to enhance recreation over the next five years

2020-2024 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP)

 

 

Montana 2014-2018 Outdoor Recreation Plan

Executive Overview and Ch. 1: Introduction 

Ch. 2: Supply and Preference of Outdoor Recreation Resources 

Ch. 3: Recreation Landscape in Montana 

Ch. 4: Trends and Usage Patterns

Ch.5: SCORP Regional Profiles 

Ch. 6: Priorities 

Ch. 7: Recommendations 

Appendices 

Facility and Natural Resource Recreation Area Needs: Facility Manager Responses 

Public Recreational Use Study 

Resident Travel for Outdoor Recreation in Montana 

Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System: Outdoor Recreation and Resident Health 

The 2014-2018 SCORP is an update of the 2008-2012 plan, and was approved by the Governor and the National Park Service at the end of 2013. The plan provided guidance through 2018 and was extended through 2019.

For more information on the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program, visit our LWCF Recreation Grants page.

A Collaborative Process

This planning process places a strong emphasis on public participation in the development of Montana’s outdoor recreation plan. Montana State Parks staff worked closely with fellow state agencies, local government representatives, federal recreation management partners, and non-governmental organizations to gather input and develop materials at key milestones throughout the process.

A SCORP advisory committee was established to help guide this process, and included members representing Montana State Parks, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Trails, Recreation and Parks Association, Montana Office of Tourism, U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and University of Montana, as well as local city and county officials.

Public involvement in the process was vitally important to reflect the values and concerns of Montana residents, and to make the plan easy to use. Montana State Parks partnered with the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research to conduct a public use survey in fall 2012. The results helped identify recreation usage, demand, and key priorities from Montana residents.

Contact

Kyan Bishop
Montana State Parks & Recreation Planner
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620-0701
Phone: 406-444-3364
Kyan.Bishop@mt.gov

Management Plans

A management plan directs the long-range development and management of a state park by defining broad policy and program guidance. This guidance is essential to managers and staff, and is of value to those organizations and individuals who have a substantial interest in the state park system.

Management plans address visitor services, public safety, park operations, recreation opportunities, resource conservation, and education efforts over a 10 year period.

Draft Plans
Completed Plans

Bannack State Park Management Plan 

Chief Plenty Coups State Park Management Plan, 2000 

Clark's Lookout State Park Management Plan, 2002 

Cooney State Park Management Plan 2012 

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park Prairie Dog Management Plan & Environmental Assessment, 2016 

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park Management Plan, 2005 

Flathead Lake Islands Management Plan, 2009 

Frenchtown Pond State Park Management Plan, 2001 

Giant Springs State Park Management Plan, 2005 

Hell Creek State Park Management Plan, 2016 

Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park Management Plan, 2000 

Lone Pine State Park Management Plan, 2003 

Makoshika State Park Management Plan, 2005 

Pictograph Cave State Park Management Plan, 2003 

Rosebud Battlefield State Park Management Plan, 2008 

Smith River State Park and River Corridor Management Plan, 2009 

Surveys and Reports

Capital Improvement Projects

Montana State Parks capital improvement projects preserve our state's historic and cultural resources, improve park facilities, promote public safety, and enhance visitor experience for the benefit of all our park users and local communities.

 
Contact

Tom Reilly
Parks Division Assistant Administrator
(406) 444-3752
treilly@mt.gov

Explore Our State Parks

Visit these state park pages to reserve a campsite, find the perfect park for you, or plan your trip around popular activities.