Marking the place where the Great Plains meet the beginning of the Rocky Mountains, Tower Rock State Park was one of the many stops along the famous Lewis and Clark Trail.
Named Tower Rock by Meriwether Lewis in 1805, the area had been used by local Native Americans as a landmark for hunting grounds, trading routes and was even considered sacred to the Piegan Blackfeet. Today, the area is now one of Montana's newest State Parks, created in 2005. Located near the small town of Cascade along the Missouri River in Montana, Tower Rock State Park is a quick 30 minute drive from Great Falls. We spent a long weekend visiting Great Falls, Montana and made sure to include a visit to Tower Rock State Park. For us, anything with Lewis and Clark history is extra special as we have some ancestral ties to Meriwether Lewis and love to learn about the history of his famous expeditions.
Unfortunately, the day we visited Tower Rock State Park the smoke from nearby wildfires was quite thick - providing for some hazy views over the valley. Even on a smoke-filled day though, it was wonderful to look out and imagine Lewis and Clark back in 1805 traveling thru this area as they worked their way west on their great expedition. In those days, the valley below would have been filled with bison - what a sight that would have been! Even without the bison present, we still enjoyed seeing the wildlife as we hiked thru the park - we were lucky enough to spot a handful of deer along the trail that day!
Tower Rock State Park is named for the giant 424 foot rock formation that is the main centerpiece of the park and provides a great place to get out and hike. While you can pretty much scramble around the area and explore as you please, there is one main trail that runs thru the park - the Tower Rock Trail which is a short 1.5 miles roundtrip hike with 485 feet in elevation gain. While the elevation gain will get your heart pumping a bit - the view is stunning! Looking out over the Missouri River valley below was beautiful - even on a hazy, smoke filled day!