The Toston Dam Recreation Site is a Bureau of Land Management area located at the Toston Dam in Montana. There are two recreation sites on the east side of the dam that include campgrounds: the Upper Toston Dam Campground, which is north of the Toston Dam, on the reservoir, and the Lower Toston Dam Campground, below the dam, on the Missouri River. The canyon that the river flows through, below the dam, was named the “Gates of the Mountains” by explorers Lewis and Clark. The recreation site occupies five acres and sits at an elevation of 4000 feet.
This BLM site provides water-based recreational activities, and there are two boat launches, one above and one below the dam, to put motorized and non-motorized watercraft into the river and reservoir. Motorboating, tubing, rafting, and fishing are all popular activities on the water. The river has rainbow and brown trout for fishing and angling, and there is plenty of wildlife to enjoy in the region. Keep your eye to the sky to view eagles and hawks or on the water to spot pelicans, cormorants, and other waterfowl. Campgrounds have no hookups, but there is a vault toilet, picnic tables, and grills.
There is plenty to see and do in the area, with multiple state and national parks nearby. Within the immediate area, you can hop on over to Helena National Forest, Yellowstone National Park, or the Lewis-Clark Caverns State Park.
The Toston Dam Recreation Site is easily accessed and accommodates small and moderately sized RVs and tow trailers. The highway and access road are paved with no barriers or overhanging trees and generally in good condition for two-wheel-drive vehicles and RV units to navigate. The road follows along the river for a portion and provides great views of the waterway and dam as you approach the recreation site. A loop at the upper Toston Dam Campground provides a turn around for vehicles. There have been occasional issues with landslides blocking the access road, so it is wise to check recreation site information prior to your trip.
The BLM Toston Dam site can be accessed on the paved Toston Dam Road located on the east side of Highway 287, two miles south of Toston, and about ½ way between Three Forks, Montana, and Helena, Montana, which are both sizable centers where numerous services and amenities are available for travelers and RVers in the region.
During the winter months, the area does receive significant snowfall, which can make highways and access roads hazardous. When traveling with an RV or tow vehicles leave plenty of room and slow down to execute braking and turns. Winter tires provide better handling in icy conditions and are recommended during the winter months in this region.
There are two campground areas at the Bureau of Land Management Toston Dam Recreation Site, one above the dam, and one below. Both are on the east side of the Missouri River. There are ten individual campsites at the campgrounds that have picnic tables with shelters over them to protect from the elements and barbeque grills for cooking meals or just enjoying an evening around the campfire.
The campground only accommodates small to medium RV units and trailers and there are no hookups or dump stations available. There are clean, well-maintained vault toilets for campers. However, trash receptacles are not available, and campers need to take their waste with them. Pets are permitted, but must remain on a leash and under control.
The campgrounds are free with no camping fees and available on a first-come first-served basis. Stays are limited to 14 days at a time. The campground is peaceful, and not usually crowded. However, there is a train track running beside the campground and trains running regularly though the area are noisy. If you are a light sleeper you might want to bring some earplugs. Because campsites are right on the river, you should also consider having plenty of insect repellent as the campgrounds can be buggy!
Water-based activities are a big attraction at the BLM Toston Dam Recreation Site. There are two boat ramps; one at the upper campground and day-use area, and another below the dam on the river.
Both the reservoir and the river permit motorized boats. Kayaking and canoeing are also popular activities at the recreation area, as is tubing and rafting down the river. Be sure to have life preservers for all operators and passengers onboard and exercise caution while operating watercraft.
Visitors enjoy angling and fishing in the reservoir and downstream on the river. You can fish from the shore or from watercraft on the Missouri River.
There is a rainbow fishery below the dam, and the odd walleye makes its way downstream. Brown trout are also available in the waterway. You can also find pike both above and below the dam. Be sure to have a valid state of Montana fishing license to participate in fishing activities at the BLM site.
Day use areas at Toston Dam Recreation Site have picnic tables and grills right at the dam, which makes an excellent location to enjoy an outdoor meal when the weather is fine.
While enjoying the site keep an eye out for raptors overhead and waterfowl on the river and reservoir. The dam has a footbridge over it, so visitors can traverse the dam and enjoy the view from the top of the dam down the canyon and the river below.
It's a bit of a drive, but while you are visiting the Toston Dam area it is well worth the trip to Yellowstone National Park just over 150 miles to the south to visit the famous “Old Faithful” and other geysers. There are many geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone National Park that are a definite must-see destination in the region.
During the offseason, there are fewer crowds at these popular sites, and hot springs are wonderfully warm for swimming even in winter months!
A short 40-mile drive south on Highway 287 from the Toston Dam is a spectacular state park complete with fascinating caves and cave formations. Wander through stalagmites, stalactites, columns, and caverns on cave tours at the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Most tours are about two hours long, the caves can be chilly, and there are about 600 stairs, so be prepared with layers you can don when you get chilled, and shed if you overheat with strenuous activity.
The caverns are lighted and there are also shorter tours for those looking for an easier caving experience. During the winter holidays, you can participate in candlelight cave tours. During the winter months, the cave tours are much colder, so bundle up and wear good footwear as exposed areas of the cave system are snowy. Coffee and hot chocolate are available at the visitor's center to warm you up!
The Helena-Lewis Clark National Forest has great winter activities including snowy trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. There are snowmobile trails at the Little Belt Mountains for sledders to enjoy. These trails are also a popular spot for dog sledders.
When venturing down snowy trails, look out for motorized, four-legged and two-legged snow sport enthusiasts. Dress for conditions; winter sports usually require breathable layers that can be put on or taken off as required with activity levels.