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Painted Rocks State Park

Enjoy the remote pine-forest setting, a great get-away for a weekend of camping, fishing and relaxation.

About the Park

Located in the West Fork Valley of the Bitterroot Mountains, Painted Rocks Reservoir offers boating, camping, and fishing in a scenic, western pine forest setting.

Painted Rocks received its name from the green, yellow and orange lichens which cover the grey and black rock walls of the granite and rhyolite cliffs along the West Fork Road.

The park offers 25 first come, first served campsites, a boat ramp and a dock. There are 2 sites that can fit RV/trailers up to 35 feet in length and 23 sites limited to 25 feet in length. There is no potable water available.

Wildlife abounds in the area around Painted Rocks. Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, and moose can be found here. In the 1980s, bighorn mountain sheep as well as peregrine falcons were reintroduced to the area. The reservoir is used as a stopping ground for waterfowl during spring and autumn migrations. Don't be surprised if you see Osprey, Great Blue Heron, Spotted Sandpiper or Bald Eagles.

In 1939, the Montana Water Conservation Board began construction on Painted Rocks Dam. Originally constructed for agricultural use, the Painted Rocks Reservoir now provides water for irrigation, stockwater, domestic use, and in-stream flows for fish.

By the 1820s, the West Fork of the Bitterroot had become an important corridor for American and English fur companies as well as the "mountain men" of the era.

The West Fork of the Bitterroot, like the rest of the Bitterroot Valley and much of western Montana, has been part of the homeland of the Salish people for countless millennia. It was always a place of importance to the Salish as a particularly good hunting area, as well as a place rich in other important traditional foods, including huckleberries, serviceberries, bitterroot, trout and other fish and mountain tea.

Park size: 23 acres. Elevation: 4,724 feet.

Activities

  • Bird Watching
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Lake Fishing
  • Motor Boating
  • Nature
  • Photography
  • Picnicking
  • RV Camping
  • Sightseeing
  • Swimming
  • Tent Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing

Amenities

Some amenities are seasonal. Check with the park for availability.

  • ADA Accessible
  • Boat Launch
  • Campsite
  • Dock
  • Established Fire Pits
  • Grills/Fire Rings
  • Group Use Rentals
  • Pets Allowed
  • Picnic Shelter
  • Picnic Tables
  • Pack-in/Pack-out
  • Public Restroom
  • Toilets (Vault)

Seasons & Hours

Hours listed below are normal operating hours and may not apply when there is a special restriction or closure. Check Alerts and Closures in the tab below.


Park

Open daily all year
Dawn to dusk
 
Potable water
DATES

Alerts & Closures

As of August 11, the water in Painted Rocks Reservoir will have receded to a point where launching a boat from the park ramp is not possible. If you want to launch a boat at Painted Rocks Reservoir, it will need to be from the Little Boulder Bay boating site near the dam, which provides parking for vehicles and boat trailers.

Social distancing is still required per the Governor's statewide directive to reduce spread of COVID-19. Stay safe!

Park Rules

Volunteer

Contact the park manager for open volunteer positions at Painted Rocks State Park.

For complete position descriptions, application forms, and details about Montana State Parks volunteer programs, visit the Volunteers page.

Fees

Montana Residents

  • Day use entrance is free*

 

Nonresidents

  • Day use entrance fee with a vehicle: $8
  • Day use entrance fee as a walk-in, bicycle or bus passenger: $4
  • With a Nonresident Entrance Pass: Free

 

Campsites

  • Campsite fees range from $4-$34 per night, depending on season and available amenities.

Montana State Parks offers hike/bike, rustic, tent, rv, and boatslip campsites. Painted Rocks offers 25 first come, first served campsites.

 

* Montana residents who pay the $9 state parks fee with their annual vehicle registration have no daily entrance fees to state parks. For residents who don't include this in their vehicle registration, non-resident day use fees apply.

Contact Information

Mailing Address:
Painted Rocks State Park
PO Box 995
Lolo, MT 59847

Phone: 406-273-4253 is located at Travelers' Rest State Park - mention you are referencing Painted Rocks
Email: Maci.MacPherson@mt.gov

Aquatic Invasive Species

What can you do to prevent the spread of Aquatic Invasive Species?

Aquatic invasive species (AIS), including diseases, are easily spread from one water body to the other. Anglers, boaters, construction workers, pond owners, gardeners, seaplane pilots, field workers - virtually anyone who works or plays in or around water can unknowingly transport these pests on their boats and equipment or allow them to spread via improper management practices. It takes only one mistake to potentially infest a new water body. To protect Montana’s waters and native aquatic species, please follow the rules and guidelines at cleandraindry.mt.gov.

Visit CleanDrainDry.mt.gov 

Painted Rocks State Park

Address

8809 West Fork Road
Darby, MT 59829
Latitude/Longitude:
(45.68128 / -114.30100)

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Park map

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Park fees

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Meet The Park Manager

Maci MacPherson

Maci MacPherson manages Travelers’ Rest, Fort Owen and Painted Rocks state parks. Maci grew up going to state parks in Montana and Oregon, which strongly influenced her career choices. Before joining Montana State Parks, Maci worked at a number of National Parks around the West, gaining extensive experience in interpretation, tribal relations, and community partnerships. She has a B.S in Fish & Wildlife Management from Montana State University and a M.S. in Science Education from Oregon State University.

CONTACT INFO
Mailing Address:
Painted Rocks State Park
PO Box 995
Lolo, MT 59847

Phone: 406-273-4253
Email: Maci.MacPherson@mt.gov

Photo of Park Manager Maci MacPherson