If you’ve ever dreamed of owning land in Montana, we have good news: you already do. Our state parks offer some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities under the Big Sky, and a few of our finest parks are easy to enjoy from Great Falls.

Giant springs state park in Great Falls Montana

Giant Springs

Imagine standing on the banks of North America’s longest river and the world’s shortest river—at the same time. You can do just that here at the source of the Roe River, named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s shortest. In just 201 feet it joins the Missouri along a scenic section of the River’s Edge Trail. The park and adjacent fish hatchery are great spots for family outings, and the park’s north and south shore trails along the Missouri provide scenic hiking and mountain biking opportunities.

 

The Sluice BoxesHiker in Sluice Boxes State park

Before meeting the Missouri below Giant Springs, Belt Creek winds through the Sluice Boxes—a cascading series of pools and channels carving through golden limestone walls. It’s a favorite destination for hikers, families and fishermen. Accessible from its north and south ends, visitors can use primitive trails to explore the park. A short trip from the overlook parking area just off Highway 89 provides views of a small waterfall and cliffside hiking before descending to Belt Creek. Overnight camping is possible with a required permit.

 

Smith RiverRaft guides on Smith River

Welcome to the Sluice Boxes—on steroids. Rightfully famous worldwide, the Smith River is so popular that a permit lottery is used for floats of its 59-mile length. Passing through deep canyons and forests, the Smith is a blue-ribbon trout stream with primitive camping at designated sites. Apply for the permit drawing here, or contract with a private outfitter for a guided float. Either way, prepare to be amazed.

 

 

First Peoples Buffalo JumpFancy dancer at First Peoples Buffalo State park

The Smith River meets the Missouri near the site of this ancient buffalo jump used by Native Americans for centuries. The park’s visitor center features excellent interpretive displays which relay the significance and uses of the site, and walking trails lead from it up to the top of the jump. Great views of the Rocky Mountain Front, Square Butte and the surrounding area will be found atop the jump, along with additional displays. The top of the jump can also be reached by car.