Thursday, June 9, 2011

Missouri Headwaters State Park

We are finally home from our adventure out west!  Time to get caught up on everything at home - and share some of our stops.  Leaving Washington we headed for Wyoming and Yellowstone.  The drive was too long to complete in one day, so we took our time and explored some along the route.

The Missouri Headwaters State Park is in Three Forks, Montana and just a few miles from the interstate.  Being so familiar with the Missouri river and Lewis & Clark we had to make a stop and check it out.  This is not a large state park, but it does offer a campground, picnic areas, boat launch, restrooms, drinking water, trails and an interpretive plaza. 

There is a $5 per car fee to use the area (self-pay) and Montana residents are free.  We were happy to donate $5 to keep this park in operation! 

When Lewis & Clark left St Louis on May 14, 1804 they travelled upriver on the Missouri to find the headwaters and explore the previously unknown territory.  On July 25, 1805 Captain Clark became the first-recorded non-Indian to reach the headwaters.  He wrote in his journal "a fine morning we proceeded on a few miles to the three forks of the Missouri those three forks are nearly of a size".  Two days later Captain Lewis joined him.  The 'three forks' are the Gallatin, Madison and Jefferson rivers.  Captain Clark returned again to this spot on July 13, 1806 while on his eastward trip to explore the Yellowstone River Valley.

The river a lot clearer and smaller than in Missouri, we saw people fly fishing along the banks
You can see the Jefferson & Madison Rivers here. 

There are a few hiking trails in the park and they offer great views of the area, some pictographs along the bluffs and even some fossils are visible.  
Part of one of the trails

The pioneer town of Gallatin has long since been abandoned in this area, but a few of the structures are still visible in the park.

The structure in the center of the picture was the town hotel
The bluff from where Lewis & Clark surveyed the area is marked on the hiking trails.
The bluff is above Tim's hat

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