Missouri Headwaters State Park, Three Forks

Missouri Headwaters State Park is a Montana state park that marks the official start of the Missouri River. It includes the Three Forks of the Missouri National Historic Landmark, designated in 1960 because the site is one where the Lewis and Clark Expedition camped in 1805. The park is open for day use and camping, offering hiking trails, hunting, and water-related activities. It is located on Trident Road northeast of Three Forks, Montana at an elevation of 4045ft.
The bulk of Missouri Headwaters State Park is found on a peninsula flanked on the east by the Gallatin River and the west by the Missouri River and the Madison River. Small parts of the park are also located on the east bank of the Gallatin River, and an island in the Missouri just below the confluence of the Madison and Jefferson Rivers. The total park size is 532acre. The Jefferson River meets the Madison and Missouri roughly midway through the park's north-south extent.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition encamped at the confluence site on July 26, 1805. On July 28, Meriwether Lewis wrote in his journal:
Both Capt. C. and myself corresponded in opinon with rispect(sic) to the impropriety of calling either of these streams the Missouri and accordingly agreed to name them after the President of the United States and the Secretaries of the Treasury and State. The expedition were likely the first white men to ever penetrate this landscape. Lewis and Clark were at first uncertain how to proceed, and scouted each of the branches before ultimately departing on July 30 up the Jefferson River. The expedition also passed the forks on its return journey on July 13, 1806.
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Missouri Headwaters State Park Reviews
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144 reviews
  • We spent one night here in the park campground. There is only a pit toilet and no hookups for RVs. The sites are mostly flat. The converging of the three rivers is past the campground and worth drivin...  more »
  • We decided to pop in the state park because we had a few hours after leaving Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. Would not have wanted to spend the $6 admission fee to see just this park. We looked at...  more »
  • Excellent place to stop while driving up or down I-90. Great place to stretch legs and see some history. It's really a gem of an experience knowing you are standing at the confluence of the biggest river in the USA and all of the history that goes with it. The pay station was unattended. There is an outhouse bathroom by the pay station. Recommend walking the mowed trail that goes by the old hotel. . Kids enjoyed the park. We stayed about one hour total.
  • I live very close to the Missouri River in the Midwest. Thought about placing a small rubber duck in the river and wait until it came by my house but I didn't. Surprised how remote the area is. It would be helpful to have better signage labeling the area.
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