State Park Highlight: Hell Creek State Park
Posted on August 02 2019
By Alanis Stallknecht
If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend full of fishing, camping, and boating, and plan to be far away from the hustle and bustle of any larger town in Montana, Hell Creek State Park might be your go-to park. A 25 mile drive on a gravel, possibly washed out road, will lead you to the southside of Fort Peck Lake. Stay for a night, a weekend, or an entire week if you’re searching for seclusion.
Hell Creek State Park is known for water sports, as well as walleye fishing. In the middle of practically nowhere, this state park includes 71 campsites, 44 of which have electrical hookups. A group facility can be reserved for special events.
Encompassing 337 acres, the park offers activities, such as: boating, camping, fishing, picnicking, swimming, water skiing, and windsurfing. A private marina in Hell Creek State Park also offers bait, groceries, gas, and other services. A list of amenities and events can be found online at stateparks.mt.gov.
Locals and tourists from outside the state venture to Hell Creek National Park for its peacefulness and hospitality. Unfortunately, hospitality from the locals and the surrounding Garfield County are not enough to keep a state park thriving.
Hell Creek State Park may be removed from the state park’s system in 2021 because of lack of funding and visitation. This is due to its location and need for improvements. In order to expand the 71 campsites the water, electrical, and sewer systems need to be updated.
Unfortunately, if there was enough money to improve these amenities they would go to state parks such as Bannack State Park, Lewis and Clark Caverns, or Makoshika instead. This is due to a ranking system which funds the most visited parks first.
According to an article written in the Billing Gazette, “Montana State Park struggling with how to handle Hell Creek,” “Out of four classes, Class 1 being the most important parks, Hell Creek is ranked Class 3, partly because visitation is limited due to its location a long way from nowhere.”
Unless a solution is found, in 2021 the lease may not be renewed. However, there is doubt the state park will ever close due to its 30,000 to 35,000 visitors per year.