Medicine Rocks State Park is a magical place that offers incredible ancient Indian rock art, plenty of hiking, and 12 primitive campsites for RVs. Located 11 miles north of Ekalaka, Montana, the 320-acre state park contains more than 100 interesting sandstone rocks, which were revered by numerous Indian tribes. The sandstone rocks tower into the sky almost 80 feet and have been carved by weather to form spires similar to hoodoos. Medicine Rocks State Park was created in 1957 when Carter County transferred the lands to the state of Montana. The park was listed on the National Park’s Register of Historic Places in 2017 for the significance of the rock formations that contain hundreds of ancient Indian petroglyphs and pictographs.
The land surrounding Medicine Rocks State Park was originally an important stopping place for numerous nomadic Plains Indian Tribes including the Sioux, Arikara, Cheyenne, Crow. and Mandan. The tribes believed the intriguing Swiss-cheese-looking rock formations were a place of holy spirits. There are hundreds of inscription, petroglyphs and pictographs carved into the rock formations. Hundreds of artifacts have been found at the park including fire rings, teepee rings, pottery, and bone and stone tools. The first contact in the area with European settlers was with the fur trappers until the 1880s when cattle ranchers moved into the area. The park was even once visited by Theodore Roosevelt.
Today, Medicine Rocks State Park is a playground for RVers and outdoor enthusiasts with activities including hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, photography, and winter recreation. The park is designated a primitive park and sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are no services and the park is pack-in/pack-out.
The weather at Medicine Rocks State Park is perfect for RVers with temperatures in the mid-80s during the summertime with up to three inches of rain per month. Wintertime temperatures hover in the 30s along with an average snowfall of six inches per month.
Accessing Medicine Rocks State Park is more challenging in weather such as rain or snow. RVers making the drive north from Ekalaka will drive along State Route 7 which is a straight shot over undulating northern plains terrain. Driving south from Baker, motorhomes will take Route 7. This portion of Route 7 is similar with straight roads the travel over undulating northern plains terrain. High winds at times may prohibit your driving speeds while traveling along Route 7 and white conditions exist much of the time during the winter.
Once inside the park there is only one dirt road that bisects the park. The dirt road can be unpassable for larger rigs during the summer months due to rainfall. While driving in the park you will experience a couple of tight turns as the road winds from the entrance station to the campground. Once at your campsite, the preferred form of traveling within the park is by foot or by bicycle. When driving within the park, please adhere to all posted speed limits. Be prepared to share the road with bicyclists, pedestrians, and children playing near the campground and day use areas.
All campsites operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Medicine Rocks State Park campground contains 12 campsites that are designated as a primitive. You are advised to pack-in/pack-out trash because there is no trash removal at the park. Campsites do not offer shade but are private and many include scenic views of the sandstone formations. Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and a dirt parking pad, which will require leveling. The campground does not offer any type of hookup services for RVers. Motorhomes are encouraged to fill water tanks and empty holding tanks before entering the park. The nearest dump station is located in Baker, 25 miles to the north of the park. Other amenities within the park include vault toilets and one fresh water drinking station. Generators may be used between the hours of 8:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times.
RVers should definitely bring their hiking books when camping at Medicine Rocks State Park. There are several trails less than one mile in length that are ideal for viewing the interesting rocks formations. The trails include North Rock, Sunset Loop, and Dalton, which are perfect for all types of hikers including families. There is a longer six-mile trek that has you traveling over the undulating northern plains terrain to numerous sandstone rocks with outstanding cultural and historic value.
Biking is a popular thing to do in Medicine Rocks State Park. The dirt road traveling through the park is ideal for biking. There are numerous places along the road you can stop to view the interesting "Swiss cheese" rocks, and don’t forget about the incredible wildlife that roams the northern plains. Bikes are also allowed on the hiking trails which include single track routes that are perfect for families. Many road cyclists will make the park base camp as they travel Route 7 between Baker and Ekalaka.
The Medicine Rocks are the main attraction at the state park. There are literally hundreds of sandstone rocks that jettison into the sky. Each one is unique in shape and height with some towering 80 feet into the air. If you look closely you might be able to spot ancient teepee rings, fire rings, pictographs and petroglyphs. Please be respectful of the cultural and historical value of the rocks while you are within the park. Report any type of vandalism to the rock formations which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
You should always have a pair of binoculars in your rig when you are traveling. Binoculars are the best way to watch the exciting wildlife that exists in the park. Whether you are hiking, biking, or just hanging out, you can expect to witness numerous animals in their native habitat. Wildlife you might see includes red fox, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and several species of birds like prairie falcons, golden eagles, and turkey vultures.
Winter time at Medicine Rocks State Park brings plenty of snow for you to enjoy. RVers that pack their snowshoes will find the hoodoo-style rock formations magical in the glistening snow. There are several trails that are perfect for snowshoeing including three that are less than one mile, which are superb for first timers and families. Other ambitious trails include a six-mile trek over the snow which will probably require trail breaking and is only advised for more advanced snowshoeing experts.
Most people traveling by RV will have a camera in their rig. The photography opportunities are tremendous within Medicine Rocks State Park. The best way to preserve a memory of looking at unique ancient petroglyphs and pictographs is by taking a photograph. You can also expect to find photo options of the interesting wildlife that lives in the area. Sunsets are also a great time for photographs with splendid pastel colors passing over the undulating northern plains terrain.