• Makoshika State Park is Montana's largest state park. Photo by Jason Savage

    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.

    - Jenna

     

  • 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.

    - Jenna

  • Beautiful Bad Lands of Makoshika State Park

    In the eyes of Montana photographer Jason Savage, the vast and unique landscapes inside Makoshika State Park more than allow the land to live up to its name.

    The largest state park in Montana, “Makoshika” is a variant spelling of the Lakota word meaning “bad land” or “bad earth.”

    The park’s 11,531 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.

    Among the wild landscape lies the bones of ancient species, including Tyrannosaurus rex and Triceratops, and artifacts left behind by ancient peoples thousands of years ago.

    “To me as a photographer, it feels like a harsh landscape but it has all this beauty,” Savage said. “It’s kind of an unforgiving place, especially in the summer it’s hot, but it’s got all this fantastic landscape and wildlife. It’s pretty spectacular.”

    Planning a trip to Makoshika? Ranger Tom Shoush recommends several things you’ve got to see:

    • 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 visitors’ 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.

    To view the entire Makoshika photo portfolio, find this issue on newsstands now. To read more about Montana all year, subscribe now.

  • State parks offer 54 unique places to play

    Montana State Parks guide by Kristen Inbody and Erin Madison.

    Montana State Parks guide by Kristen Inbody and Erin Madison.

    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.

    - Jenna

  • Montana State Parks Montana Magazome

    Montana’s state parks: 75 years, 54 parks and growing

    By KRISTEN INBODY and ERIN MADISON

     

    The Montana State Parks system came into existence 75 years ago on Feb. 23, 1939, when the Montana Legislature passed a law creating the Montana State Parks Commission to conserve “the scenic, historic, archaeological, scientific and recreational resources of the state.”

    However, during the first couple of decades of its existence, the commission did little to advance state parks in Montana.

    “State Parks in Montana started 75 years ago but it had languished to say the least,” said Ron Holliday, who served as Montana State Parks director from 1976-83. “It was a branch of the Highway Department, and it was truly a stepchild.”

    Montana State Parks saw a major expansion when the parks department moved and became part of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, now Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

    The Lewis and Clark Caverns can be given credit for sparking the passage of the initial legislation to create a state parks commission. The bill was passed after the federal government asked Montana to take over management of the Lewis and Clark Caverns, which President Theodore Roosevelt declared a national monument in 1906.

     

    Want to know more about the parks featured in Kristen and Erin’s story? Explore the interactive map below and click to find out more about these parks: First People’s Buffalo State Park, Lewis and Clark Caverns, Bannack State Park, Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, Makoshika State Park, Milltown State Park, Smith River State Park, Medicine Rocks State Park, Painted Rocks State Park and Rosebud Battlefield State Park.

     

    To read the rest of feature on Montana State Parks, find this issue on newsstands now. To read more about Montana all year, subscribe now.