If you are visiting Great Falls, Montana - Giant Springs State Park is an absolute must see! Giant Springs is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country and was discovered by Lewis and Clark in 1805 during their famous expedition. For us, any history linked to Lewis and Clark is extra special as we have ancestral ties back to Meriwether Lewis and we love to visit and learn about these historic sights! Encompassing over 14 miles of river shoreline along the Missouri River, this park offers a bit of something for everyone - take a stroll and enjoy the views of the springs, try your hand at fishing, stop by the fish hatchery or simply just enjoy a picnic here. Even on a smoky summer day, we loved our time spent exploring this wonderful park!
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GIANT SPRINGS STATE FISH HATCHERY
Our first stop while visiting Giant Springs State Park was to visit the Giant Springs State Fish Hatchery. Walk thru the fish hatchery visitor center and learn a bit about the trout and salmon that are raised here - over 1.3 million fish are raised and then then distributed within a 150 mile radius on an annual basis. The best part though is getting to feed the fish - make sure and bring some quarters so you can purchase some fish food! Feeding fish is a definite hit when visiting with young children - our son absolutely loved feeding the fish!
An absolutely beautiful area - visiting Giant Springs is a lovely way to spend some time. As the namesake of the state park and the sight that Lewis and Clark describe in their journals as they passed thru Great Falls during their famous expedition, Giant Springs is an underrated Montana gem that is truly breath-taking! Over 156 million gallons of fresh water pass thru this spring each day, the waters originate from snowmelt in the Little Belt mountains over 60 miles away. These springs bubble up and flow through the Roe River which is considered the World's Smallest River before it connects up with the Missouri River. Follow the paved walkway around the springs for 360 degree views of these clean, clear bubbling waters. Also interesting while we were there was the snakes - yep - snakes. Not sure if it was just the time of year or current weather but we ran across numerous snakes along the pathways as well as saw a few hanging in tree branches along the pathways. I'm no snake expert, so I'm not sure exactly what kind these were, but as long as we are a safe distance away, we found the snakes to be pretty interesting to look at!
Another must do when visiting Giant Spring State Park is to try your hand at some fishing! While strolling the park, we saw numerous fishermen fishing along the banks of the Missouri River. For us, we headed to the fishing pond. Walk upstream about 0.15 miles from the Giant Springs State Fish Hatchery along the Lewis & Clark Nature Walk and you will come across this pond. Each year this pond is stocked with about 1000 rainbow trout and is a great place to spend some time fishing with kids! We spent about an hour here fishing with our son and there were plenty of fish we could see in the pond - but none were biting that morning for us. Still fun though, even though we didn't catch any! Just remember - adults must have a valid Montana fishing license. Children under the age of 11 do not need a license.