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Leigh Ripley

Placid Lake

State Park

Placid Lake State Park, located in the Clearwater/Swan River Valley, is my absolute favorite place to camp. I was introduced to the area more than 12 years ago and at the time we were tent campers. As the years went on, we upgraded to RV camping, but either way – this place is the best. As the name states, the lake is smooth, making it perfect for water sports. You will see canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, surf boats, ski boats, swimmers and more. BONUS: The campground has a concrete boat ramp and a public dock with boats slips available to rent so you don’t need to pull your boat in and out of the water every day. These are first come, first served so if you don’t get one when you arrive, keep your eye on the dock for boaters pulling out of the water and see if they had a slip you can grab. Hint: Ask nicely! Don’t forget your Montana fishing license as the lake is full of rainbow, cutthroat, brown and bull trout, whitefish, kokanee salmon and perch. The area is also popular among bikers and hikers, and for wildlife viewing – birders can spot red-necked grebes, waterfowl, osprey, common loons and more. There are 49 campsites: 23 RV friendly, 17 RV friendly with electricity, and nine hike-bike campsites. All sites have fire rings and a picnic table. Placid Lake State Park books up for the entire summer early. Start checking montanastateparks.reserveamerica.com just after the new year to try and reserve your sites. If you are tent camping, you will probably want the upper loop because it is farther away from the boat ramp, therefore quieter. Keep in mind: This lake is cold. So, if you are not used to Montana lakes, book later in the summer after it’s had a chance to warm up a little.

Insider fun: Jumping into the lake from the bridge above the lake’s outlet to Owl Creek. Accessible by foot by following the trail/road just to the left of the campground boat launch or by water. And bring bikes…the campground is paved and on a hill, kiddos will love biking around and the State Park has miles of bike trails. Full moon: If you are lucky enough to catch a full moon, take the boat out on the lake for a moonlight swim. Don’t forget your lights for safety! Day trip: Head up to Seeley and discover Seeley Lake, dine at Lindey’s Steak House and get ice cream at the Blue River Station or the Ice Cream Place. Placid Lake State Park is located 28 miles northeast of Missoula. Now, you could easily head over to Missoula and then go north to get there, but the best way to go, in my opinion, is via Helena. This is Montana, take your time to get there and enjoy every scenic square inch of the ride. Take I-90 West from Bozeman and then go North onto 287 toward Helena. In Helena pick up U.S. 12 West, which will take you over MacDonald Pass. At an elevation of 6,312 feet, it is truly stunning. Use the scenic view pullout to get a great family photo. Next, pick up MT 141 North. This high mountain prairie is magical with its wildlife, ranches and the Nevada Creek Reservoir. Next, pick up MT-200 West and travel a little over 20 miles to the intersection of 200 and MT-83 North. If you are towing a boat, make sure to stop at the boat check and then head across the street to the Sinclair Gas Station and Stoney’s KwikStop in Clearwater Junction to grab any necessary last-minute essentials (we usually get ice cream) and get the kids’ picture in front of the massive brown cow. It’s tradition.

cute fan pic! Montana Grown submitted by Joann KnoKey

This pic was sent to me of my granddaughter and her friend, both Bozeman 10-year-olds. With all the turmoil and unrest in the world this just warmed my heart. Simple and pure.

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SUMmer 2021


Profile for Montana Parent

2021 Summer Family Fun in Southwest Montana and Yellowstone  

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