Located at the historically significant site where the Madison, Gallatin and Jefferson rivers converge to form the Missouri River is the town of Three Forks. Not surprisingly, it’s also home to one of Montana’s many state parks. Missouri Headwaters State Park has historical exhibits, interpretive signs, scenic viewpoints, picnic areas and hiking trails. Another Three Forks attraction is the Headwaters Heritage Museum, which includes replicas of a turn-of-the-century village and thousands of historical artifacts, such as an anvil salvaged from the ruins of an 1810 Missouri Fur Company trading post.
But the state parks story doesn’t end there. In fact, Three Forks can claim more than its fair share of Montana State Parks. In addition to Headwaters State Park, there’s Clarks’s Lookout State Park, which highlights Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery adventures and Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park.
Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is also located near Three Forks, just off I-90. This buffalo jump vividly demonstrates a hunting technique used in Montana 2,000 years ago. Interpretive displays explain how bison were stampeded over the cliffs. About eight miles west of Three Forks, on Highway 287, is another state park, The Parker Homestead State Park. It’s the smallest state park in Montana (1.67 acres), consisting of a historic sod-roofed cabin tucked under a few large Cottonwood trees.
Population: 1,970 | Elevation: 4,068ft. | County: Gallatin | www.threeforksmontana.com
Photo courtesy of Tom Brandt