State parks offer 54 unique places to play
There are 54 state parks (soon to be 55) spread out across the expanse of Montana. Few people can say they’ve been to every one.
From the almost 12,000 acre Makoshika in the east to Les Mason up in the northwestern corner of the state, how do you know where to go?
We were happy to help the Montana State Parks celebrate its 75th anniversary in our May/June issue with the help of the wonderful Kristen Inbody and Erin Madison – two Montanans who can say they’ve been to every one of the state parks.
To prove it, they wrote a guide book and travel companion that was recently published. It’s a great guide to have on you dashboard as you travel Montana.
If you want to learn more about the parks right now, check out our interactive map with our preview of the 75th anniversary feature.
Don’t forget to find us on Instagram (montanamagazine) to see images from the state parks we visit this year.
Makoshika named one of country’s top ‘hidden gem’ parks
Makoshika State Park – one of our FAVORITES – was featured as a “hidden gem” in Country Magazine‘s recent feature that included other lesser known parks across the country.
The intro to the feature supports the notion that Makoshika is tops:
These national and state parks don’t get as much attention as others, but we think they’re among the best parks in the United States.
What did Country love about Makoshika?
It’s “soaring rock formations and prehistoric relics” make it a “surprisingly fascinating and colorful destination.”
We have a list of the top four things to do at Makoshika, an online post that paired with our portfolio on the park published in the March/April issue of MT Mag.
Other gems included Baxter State Park in Maine and Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
Top four things to see and do at Makoshika State Park
We shared a spread of photos by Jason Savage featuring Makoshika State Park in the March/April issue Portfolio that was pretty incredible. I hope you had a chance to check it out.
And now, I hope it inspires you to go take a look at the park in person.
Makoshika’s 11,538 acres – located just outside Glendive – are filled with giant formations of light colored capstone that reach toward the expansive eastern Montana skies like elegant pedestals.
I talked with Makoshika Park Ranger Tom Shoush for some insider tips about what visitors should do and see once they reach the park. Here’s a Top Four list based on Tom’s recommendations:
- Drive the 10-mile road through the park.
“If the road system is open, I always tell people to drive to the top. That’s where the views are,” Shoush said.
- Watch out for dinosaur bones.
The bones of 10-12 species of dinosaurs have been found inside Makoshika. Most of the finds, Shoush said, are large herbivores that lived near end of the age of dinosaurs. The most significant is an entire Thescelosaur, a “very rare” and “tremendous find” Shoush said.
- Stop at the visitor center.
It’s home to dinosaur bones and rare artifacts left behind by ancient peoples. “A human presence in the area dated back to 10,000 to 12,000 years ago,” Shoush said.
- Stop by during the “spring green up.”
Shoush recommends visiting from Makoshika in mid-May through mid-June.
“I tell people somewhere around June 1 you have the best chance of seeing the flowers in bloom and the migratory birds have returned,” he said.