Painted Rocks State Park

Quick Facts

Painted Rocks State Park

Montana

(406) 542-5500

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located in the scenic Bitterroot Mountains, this 23-acre park offers boating and water sport opportunities on the reservoir. Open year-round as a "primitive" park, Painted Rocks offers a multitude of recreational opportunities. The remote pine-forest setting is a great get-away for a weekend of camping, fishing and relaxation. Winter opportunities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and wildlife viewing. Summer opportunities include camping, fishing, boating, hiking, and water skiing. All this within a scenic, western pine forest setting! This area offers 25 sites with vault toiles, grills, fire rings, picnic tables, a boat ramp and dock, drinking water, and limits of RV/trailers of 25 feet. Painted Rocks received its name from the green, yellow and orange lichens which cover the grey and black rock walls of the granitic and rhyolite cliffs. The lichen forms out of the symbiotic relationship between the algae growing on the cliffs and fungi. Different combinations of each plant forms various colored lichen. The Lewis and Clark Expedition passed through the forks of the Bitterroot River on September 7, 1805. Fifteen years later, the valley had become an important corridor for American and English fur companies as well as the "mountain men" of the era. The Bitterroot provided the only safe passage for trappers from raiding Blackfeet Indians, between the Snake, Columbia and Flathead Rivers. The main trapping era lasted approximately 25 years from 1820 to 1845. At that time Christian missionaries began to arrive in the area and permanent European American settlement followed.

Map of Painted Rocks (MT)

Latitude, Longitude: 45.699346, -114.294205

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Activities

  • Boating

    There is a boat ramp and dock available for access to the reservoir. After August 1, water levels can be poor due to irrigation usage. Both motorized and non-motorized boats are permitted

  • Bicycling

    Cycling on road and designated trails is a great way to explore the park.

  • Camping

    There are 25 sites available for camping, with vault toilets available on site. This area limits RV/trailer size to 25' in length. There is a 14 day limit for camping within a 30 day period.

  • Fishing

    Six species of game fish call Painted Rocks Reservoir home; mountain whitefish, westslope cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, brook trout and dolly varden. Please observe the Montana state fishing regulations.

  • Picnicking

    There are two shelters available for picnics. For groups of 30 and over, please call the regional parks office at (406) 542-5531 for a special recreation permit. Since this is a primitive park, please follow the pack-it-in/pack-it-out policy.

  • RVing

    There are 25 sites available for camping, with vault toilets available on site. This area limits RV/trailer size to 25' in length. There is a 14 day limit for camping within a 30 day period.

  • Water Sports

    Swimming is available at Painted Rocks State Park; however, there is no lifeguard on duty. Swim at your own risk! Water skiing and other water sports are also popular at this park.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Wildlife abounds in the area around Painted Rocks. Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, black bear, and moose can be found in the area. In the 1980s, bighorn mountain sheep as well as peregrine falcons were reintroduced to the area. Don't be surprised if you see osprey, great blue heron, water ouzels, spotted sandpiper or kill-deer.

Directions

Driving

17 miles south of Hamilton on U.S. 93, then 23 miles sw on route 473.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(406) 542-5500

Links