Those looking for a quiet, beautiful and accessible place to camp in the mountains of Montana need look no further than Beavertail Hill State Park. Though the park, at just 63 acres, is small, it sports a lovely wooded campground and provides easy access to the rushing rivers, thick forests and rugged mountains surrounding it. The Clark Fork River runs right abreast of the park, and it is a phenomenal place for fly fishing, paddling and even swimming. A peaceful nature trail runs through groves of elder cottonwoods that thrive along the river. During summer, visitors can attend the park’s interpretive program series to learn about the area’s fascinating natural history. Plus, Beavertail’s modestly-sized campground offers an escape from some of the region’s busier, more bustling hotspots.
Tremendous adventure awaits just outside Beavertail, too. Millions of acres of National Forest land surround the park; miles and miles of hiking, biking, trail riding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing trails provide access to deep wildernesses and stunning montane vistas. Whatever your activity of choice is, you’ll find that opportunities abound.
Beavertail Hill has just 24 RV-suitable campsites; all of which can be reserved up to nine months in advance. Reserve a spot and make sure you don’t miss out on world-class fishing and rafting!
Beavertail Hill is surprisingly accessible and requires almost no off-highway driving. The park is located just to the south of I-90, which cuts east-west across much of Montana. Visitors can take exit 130 on to Bonita Station Rd., which leads directly into the park. Since the park is so small, its road system is comprised entirely of the campground road, which is a simple loop and spur. All roads to Beavertail Hill are paved, and sites within the park are gravel. There may be a few steep sections along I-90, depend on the direction you’re coming from, but since you’ll be traveling along a major highway, the driving is relatively easy.
Sites are about half pull-through and half-back in. There are a few sites that can easily accommodate very large rigs, though most of the sites are smaller (35 or fewer feet in length). Make sure you check the length specifications of your site before reserving. All this being said, parking should be a snap as long as you’re within proper length limits - the turns of the campsites loop are very gentle, and sites have ample space between them. Once you are parked, you’ll find everything in this petite park (including amphitheater, boat launch, and restroom) to be within walking distance.
The quiet campground at Beavertail Hill sports 24 lovely, forested campsites. The campground is set among the cottonwoods and conifers which grow thickly along the banks of the Clark Fork River. The half-mile hiking trail leaves from the campsite, and the walk-in boat launch is just a few steps away.
Sites at Beavertail have 50-amp electric hookups, though no water or sewage is available. Visitors should also note that the park does not have a sanitary dump station, though there are plenty within a reasonable drive of the park (e.g. in Missoula). There are a couple of potable water spigots and a vault toilet. Modern restrooms and showers are not available here.
Firewood is sold in the park during the on-season, but for any other supplies, visitors will have to venture outside the park. The large, full-service city of Missoula, Montana is less than a 30-minute drive away, just a straight shot west along I-90. Visitors can find any amenities they may need there.
All spots at Beavertail are reservable, and the reservation window is nine months.
Rafting is one of Beavertail Hill’s most popular activities, and with good reason; the park sits along a gorgeous section of the Clark Fork River, which is scenic, tree-lined and absolutely perfect for rafting. Boating access is carry-in only, but the walk isn’t far. Take in the conifer-clad hills and mountains as you float down the river, towards Missoula. And, if that cool river water just looks irresistible, jump in! There’s a swim area located in the park too.
Beavertail Hill is quite small, standing at just 63 acres. Even so, it boasts a lovely nature trail, which lets visitors amble among the park’s pines and cottonwoods. The park is also located in prime hiking territory; Beavertail Hill is surrounded by National Forest land. The Missoula Ranger District of Lolo National Forest can be found just to the south, north and west. Bitterroot, Beaverhead-Deerlodge, and Helena National Forests are also all close by. All of these forests offer miles and miles of stupendous hiking trails through some of the most ruggedly beautiful terrain in the U.S. Check with the Forest Service info center in Missoula if you want specific trail info or need any help planning your trek.
Beavertail Hill, in conjunction with nearby Salmon Lake and Placid Lake State Parks, runs a wonderful summer series of engaging interpretive talks. The park boasts a lovely wooden amphitheater surrounded by towering pines. Programs are usually hosted on Friday evenings - their topics run the gamut from loons to bears to dogsledding to Montana’s wild west history. Plus, rangers can answer your burning questions about the area’s flora, fauna and natural history. A few programs require signing up in advance - check the State Park’s website to get a schedule!
Live the dream and fly fish a scenic river in Montana! The Clark Fork River draws anglers from around the region, the country and even the world. Access to the river is easy, and the park sits on a gorgeous piece of shoreline. You can also use Beavertail Hill as a launching place from which to explore other parts of the river. Late spring - during fly hatches - and fall are some of the best times to go, but whenever you end up fishing, you’ll be treated to spectacular views and a sense of mountain serenity. Bass, cutthroat trout and brown trout are among the most commonly caught species.
The montane forests in and around Beavertail support a rich diversity of mountain wildlife, and opportunities for seeing amazing fauna last year-round. Bears, cougars and timber wolves are among the apex predators, while top herbivores include mountain goats, bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and moose. There’s also nearly 300 species of birds which inhabit the area. Some, such as bald and golden eagles, are permanent residents, while others, including many duck and warbler species, visit seasonally.
Western Montana undoubtedly earns its snowy reputation. Missoula, close to Beavertail, gets about four feet of snow per year. Even more of the white stuff falls at higher elevations in the surrounding mountains. Rugged peaks and coniferous forests become icy wonderlands when winter arrives, and snowshoeing can be one of the best, easiest ways to explore. Take the parks nature trail, or head out to some of the miles of Forest Service trails which are within a short drive of the park.