Exploring Three Forks, Montana

Missouri Headwaters State Park Missouri Headwaters State Park. Photo by Jonathan Finch.

Three Forks, Montana, just a half-hour drive from Bozeman, is quickly becoming a sought-after destination for quiet recreation. There's less snow in this part of the region, so activities can get started earlier in the season - the Headwaters Golf Course even has winter rates, and if it's over forty degrees for a few hours, you can bet that it's open! Plus, great restaurants, stunning views, and many family-friendly activities abound.

Outdoor Recreation

Three Forks is one of the stops of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery. They camped along the headwaters of the Missouri River, which is now Missouri Headwaters State Park. If you visit the park, interpretive signs walk you through where they stayed. Sacagawea, long separated from her family and tribe, was reunited with her brother here. Headwaters State Park is great for fishing, picnicking, and biking along the Headwaters Trail System, a paved network of trails that runs along the former Milwaukee Railroad bed through the City of Three Forks. There are just about 12 miles of paved trails in and around Three Forks, running to both the Headwaters State Park and the Jefferson River's Droulliard Fishing Access and providing walking and biking capability to the Pogreba Field Airport.  


Madison Buffalo Jump State Park Madison Buffalo Jump State Park, photo by Jonathan Finch

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park is another fascinating piece of history. For over 2000 years, Native Americans drove herds of bison over the large limestone cliff. Young runners would dress in wolf and other hides to steer the herds toward the edge, where the tribes used their carcasses for furs, food, and other necessities. Today, you can hike to the top for a spectacular valley view. 

Bikers love Copper City Trails, a seventeen-plus mile network of bike-optimized trails open to hikers and trail runners. Its diverse trail system includes beginner-friendly, technical flow and two downhill-only, bike-only tracks. 

Three Forks Pond is a great place to take the little ones. It's a bit cold yet for boating, but the fishing is great for beginners; you'll find largemouth bass, bluegill, yellow perch and carp in these waters. 

Bridger Brewing, Three Forks, Montana Bridger Brewing, Photo by Kaden Harrison

Art, Food and Culture

 While you're out that way, drive by the Bleu Horses of Montana by Jim Dolan. This outdoor installation of thirty-nine metal horse sculptures on the side of Kamp hill on Highway 287 near Wheat Montana looks like a natural herd of wild horses. It's a special project for Dolan, which he considers a gift back to the communities who have supported his art. 

Speaking of Wheat Montana, consider stopping by the Wheat Montana Bakery and Café, just off I-90. Travelers seek out their sandwiches and baked goods, and their product line includes flour, wheat, mixes, and cereals. I haven't tried one, but I hear the cinnamon rolls are to die for! 

Bridger Brewing recently opened a second location in Three Forks, with the Three Forks Pub serving a new menu focused on thin-cut, street-style meats from local ranchers and butchers. They also have an outdoor music venue, and the spring shows are underway! 

Music lovers should also check out Headwaters Country Jam, and Rockin' the Rivers, are annual music festivals that draw hundreds of people from across the region to celebrate country and rock music with stunning backdrops and plenty of elbow room for camping. 

Private cottages at Sacajawea Hotel Private cottages at Sacajawea Hotel. Photo by Jonathan Finch.

Other favorite restaurants in the Three Forks area include Woolzie's Willow Creek CaféLand of Magic SteakhouseIron Horse Café and Pie Shop, and the historic Sacajawea Hotel. The Sac (as the locals call it) has two dining options, Pompey's Grill, for fine dining, and the Sac Bar, for more casual fare. Either way, enjoy watching the sunset on their lovely wrap-around deck. For an intimate experience, check out their private cottages just across the street from the hotel. 

To learn more about Three Forks, visit our Communities Page.