Lake Mary Ronan State Park is a small, remote park situated on the shores of Lake Mary Ronan, sheltered between the Salish and Mission Mountain ranges. While Lake Mary Ronan is dwarfed by the nearby Flathead Lake approximately eight miles to the east, it is still large enough at 1,500 acres to provide a substantial habitat for many different species of fish and waterfowl. The park itself occupies around 120 acres of the land around Lake Mary Ronan in Montana. Eighteen of the 25 campsites available for RVs are reservable, most of which include a 50-amp electrical hook up. Campsites are shaded by mature douglas fir trees and western larch, giving them a great deal of privacy, and while cell service and Wi-Fi are spotty, this secluded area is wonderfully inspirational. The well-stocked lake is a great place for anglers of all skills, from either a boat or the boat dock provided by the park. There are also several hiking trails that lead into the surrounding forest, which is abundant with both flora and fauna. In the winter, the trails around the lake are often used for snowshoeing, and the lake is a popular spot for ice fishing.
Lake Mary Ronan State Park is just under seven miles north of the tiny town of Proctor, MT, previously known as Dayton, MT. The road from Proctor to the state park has a few sharp turns and changes in altitude so it is important to keep your eye on the road, especially if you are driving during inclement weather or during early morning or twilight hours, as deer and bighorn sheep are often active at this time. Inside the campgrounds, the roads are paved with gravel, but remain fairly easy to navigate. There are several places to park a big rig or trailer within the park, particularly near the lodge at Mary Ronan.
There are 27 level sites for RVs, campers, and trailers at this park, 18 of which are reservable. Each site provides a fire ring, grill, and picnic table. Most of the sites come equipped with 50-amp electrical hookups, the exceptions being sites 12, 14, and 15. The campground also provides vault toilets, which are well-maintained, and several faucets with potable drinking water. As this is a bear habitat, it is important to keep any food items safely within the vehicle or in the bearproof food containers which are provided. Generators can be used during daytime hours, but need to be silenced during quiet hours, from 10 PM to 7 AM. All rigs, trailers, boats, and motorized vehicles are required to fit inside the parking spurs or be parked outside of the campgrounds. Pets are welcome at Lake Mary Ronan State Park, including on the trails, but they must be restrained by a leash of six feet or less or contained in your rig.
Lake Mary Ronan is an excellent place for anglers to cast their lines, either from a boat or from the dock that is provided by the park. The state stocks the lake with a variety of species, including kokanee salmon, trout, bass, and perch. During the winter months, ice fishing is a popular activity as well. If you didn’t tow in your own boat or pack your rod and reel in your campervan, the nearby Lake Mary Ronan Lodge rents out all of the equipment that is needed for a fishing expedition.
This lake is known for the abundance of wildflowers that are nestled among the trees, as well as for the large variety of animals which inhabit the area. Flowers such as Indian paintbrushes, shooting stars, and orchids are plentiful in the valley. You are likely to spot deer and bighorn sheep in this area, and if you are lucky you may even catch a glimpse of the animals that prey on them, such as black bears, grizzly bears, and mountain lions.
Be sure to bring your binoculars and birding kit in your campervan when you visit Lake Mary Ronan as the lake and the land surrounding it are teeming with interesting birds. There is a Sandhill Crane nesting site at the southern end of the lake, and you may see some of the cranes hunting near the campgrounds. On and near the water itself, you are likely to see ducks, grebes, gulls, and even trumpeter swans. The forests that surround the lake are home to a large number of songbirds, such as sparrows, bluebirds, thrushes, swallows, and warblers. If you are observant and fortunate, you may even spot nesting Bald Eagles high in the trees.
There are several trails in and around the campgrounds that provide opportunities to explore the flora and fauna in the area. The Doug Fir Trail is a nice, easy loop around the campground that is just over a mile long which attaches to the short Camp Spur trail to the south of the campsites. There is also a short trail to the north of the campground known as the Western Trail that ends at the park boundary. During the winter, these hiking trails are often used for snowshoeing as well.
Due to the mature forests that surround Lake Mary Ronan, the solitude and beautiful surroundings that are typically found in this park are unmatched and can provide a great deal of inspiration for whichever artistic or creative endeavors you wish to pursue. Artists, writers, and photographers will delight in the beautiful views and in the abundance of flora and fauna in this area, which include a large number of songbirds and loons for an interesting auditory background.
This area is well-known for its abundance of morel mushrooms and wild huckleberries. Wild huckleberries are a sweet treat that is ripe and ready for the picking in the late summer and early fall months. Morel mushrooms can be frequently be located around the bases of many types of tree, including ash, aspen, elm, and oak trees, typically on southern slopes in the early spring and northern facing slopes later in the summer. Be aware that bears often forage for berries and mushrooms here, and there are also false morels in this area. Be certain of your mushroom before ingesting to avoid cramps and gastrointestinal upset.