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Mount Helena City Park

8 State Parks and Other Outdoor Recreational Places In Helena For Tourism (2024)

Being a metropolitan, Helena attracts people for business, economic and other purposes, but tourism is also one of its flourishing fields. Here travellers can enjoy the Montana Great Outdoors, scenic Mount Helena backdrops, a few State Parks and several iconic Montana Landscapes. Be it the hot sunny summer season or the chilling snowy winters, the outdoor recreational spot in Helena offers fun throughout the year.

Helena is both a single day destination, and it also makes for weekend fun. Its indoor attractions and downtown charm are ideal for a single day excursion. Whereas for diving into the adventure of outdoor spaces, you might need a day or two more. So why wait? Plan your weekend getaway through these popular State Parks and Outdoor Recreational Spots in Helena.

8 State Parks and Other Outdoor Recreational Places In Helena For Tourism

Brace yourself as Montana’s capital city is just going to impress you with its charm. Let’s get started.

1. Mount Helena City Park

Helena’s most iconic attraction and an excellent outdoor recreational spot, Mount Helena City Park, is a local’s favourite. The Park encompasses nearly 620 acres of land on the foothills of Mount Helena. It features 6 hiking trails up and around the mountain. While a few reach the summit, others connect to the Helena National Forest or the Devil’s Kitchen cave. The most popular trail that goes all the way to the summit is the 1.6 miles long ‘the 1906 Trail’. Exploring this pathway is in no way an easy task though the dramatic views makes it from above are worth it.

Another challenging path is the Hogback Trail, worth it for all adventure enthusiasts. Though if you are a beginner, hike the Prairie or the Backside Trails. The Park is also home to a gigantic H that is visible from across Helena city. The Mount Helena City Park is a royalty of nature on the outskirts of the city and definitely a must-visit.

2. Gates of the Mountains Wilderness

Managed by the Helena National Forest, Gates of the Mountains Wilderness is all about the history and natural beauty. Here one can hike, enjoy an afternoon picnic or camp overnight. Visitors can take the popular boat tours to experience and enjoy the correct sense of grandeur. Available throughout the summers, these tours take visitors through the dramatic history, geology and scenic beauty of the region. A guided narration adds to a more meaningful trip and certainly several memories. What keeps the beauty of this Wilderness fresh is that no motorised vehicles, including cycles, are allowed here. There are no signs of lodging and mining; no roads are constructed, bringing a true sense of Wilderness to life. However, visitors can camp or fish here but that too with the proper permit.

3. Spring Meadow Lake State Park

Located on the western edge of Helena, the Spring Meadow Lake State Park covers 61 acres. It is a popular family afternoon spot, especially amongst the locals. Right in its centre, there is a human-made spring-fed lake that makes up for views, vibes, and recreation altogether. During summers, it avails for swimming and fishing. Whereas during winters, opportunities for ice fishing and ice-skating flourish more. For adding to the utmost benefits of anglers, there even is a huge fishing pier in the lake. If not inside the lake, visitors can hike the .8-mile natural trail circling the lake. The State Park also features picnic shelters group shelters and is home to a variety of wildlife. Besides that, there goes one or another event ensuring utmost engagement for visitors. While locals can visit here for free, non-residents require to pay a fee.

4. Black Sandy State Park

One of the few public parks on the shore of Hauser Reservoir, the Black Sandy State Park is an popular State Park in Helena. It provides a public recreational area and a campground for nature lovers. Upon visiting here, one can indulge in boating, swimming, hiking, fishing, camping, RVing, tenting, and water skiing. Recreation at Black Sandy operates from the 1st of May through the 30th of November. For camping, the Park has 29 campsites with electricity open for reservation. In contrast, six campsites without electric hook-ups are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Besides that, yurts, cabins and group facilities too are available (reservation basis). The Black Sandy State Park is a truly beautiful outdoor space in Helena that offer both adventure and views.

5. Great Divide Montana

Twenty-three miles outside Helena, the Great Divide Montana is a local ski area and a winter wonderland. Skiing season here begins from late November and goes all the way through March (or until snow stays). Sometimes even through the month of April, visitors can come and enjoy weekend skiing. The Great Divide area has nearly 1600 acres of skiable terrain at a base of 5,730 feet. There are 140 skiing trails accessible by one rope tow and five lifts. Great Divide receives 180 inches of average snowfall every year, daily throughout the season. For beginners, they offer daily skiing lessons from 10 am to 4 pm at their Backyard Beginner’s Area. They even offer a seven-week skiing program for kids (from 7 to 19 years). For night skiing, consider reaching here on Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm. There is a warm and cosy Base Lodge dealing in warm food and drinks for the after-skiing affairs. The best part is that all of this fun and adventure is available at reasonable rates.

6. Hill Park

Considerably a new space in Helena, Hill Park is where you can spend a fun afternoon or evening. With a natural amphitheatre and a central place for community gatherings, it is a great place for enjoying live music concerts and other events. Besides that, huge green spaces are available for a family-friendly afternoon picnic. With sky-high trees providing shade, visitors can even take their afternoon nap under the sun. Hill Park is absolutely close to downtown Helena and thus is extremely accessible. One can reach here by walking. Upon standing at the park, the views of the Cathedral of Saint Helena are something one must not forget to capture. Considering it is relatively a new outdoor space, Hill Park is still growing, with several features added on every while.

7. Last Chance Ranch

The Last Chance Ranch is located in the far west of Helena. With the famous Ranch culture in Montana, it is definitely a must-visit place. The Ranch is spread over 80 acres and has so much to offer. Visitors here can step back into time when real cowboys roamed and lived around. What interests visitors the most here are the horse-drawn carriages that take along the dirt road, which at the same time are beautiful and scenic. Besides a day visit, they also have lodges to stay overnight. Upon your visit here, do not dare to miss the cabin and try dishes like prime rib with potatoes du jour, cowboy coffee, and the lip-smacking huckleberry cheesecake. After dinner and dessert, what adorns the environment, even more, are live campfire music and amazing stories by a ranch owner and host.

8. South Hills Disc Golf Course

Helena is popular for its Disc Golf, and the courses here are a must-try. Though Helena is home to disc golf courses more than anywhere in Montana, the South Hills Disc Golf Course is the top-rated amongst them. It is the most well maintained and fun to play space often packed with enthusiasts. Unlike painted propane tanks on another golf course, it has realistic goals. With that, several challenges and hazards add more fun to the game. Though it is easily accessible from the Highway, one can grab beautiful views of Helena city underneath from the hill above. For experienced disc golfers, the course might seem easy to play, though if you are a newbie, you may struggle a little. In Helena, some other disc golf courses include Scratch Gravel Hills, Shady Scratch, Huckleberry Hollow Sheep Mountain, and Blue Cloud.

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