Council Grove State Park
A tranquil setting describes Council Grove State Park the best. This little park is a well kept secret but worth experiencing. Only 10 minutes out of Missoula on Mullan Road a sign points the way down in. The park opens up to majestic scene of old growth ponderosa pines, grassy fields, and the Clark Fork River. Open aspen groves allow you the delight of watching the blue herons nesting. A walk along the river will navigate you through Cottonwood trees, beavers and sightings of eagles. A seasonal vernal pool exists for the breeding ground of frogs and salamanders. The Clark Fork River collides with the Swan and Flathead rivers making for some great fishing accesses. If fishing does not call to you, there are many hiking trails surrounding the area.
This is a great place to explore and feel a part of nature. Wildlife is abundant, perfect for photographers. There is nothing more relaxing as a day picnic here, and nothing more invigorating then spotting a group of white tail deer or the meandering black bear. The Clark Fork River provides an opportunity to either sit quietly at the edge, or wade peacefully in the shallow banks. It is relatively quiet, without a lot of people or noise.
Composed of 187 acres of prime land, the Council Grove State Park sits at an elevation of 3, 198 feet. The park history is told by Kiosks revealing the exact spot where the Hellgate Treaty was signed. It was in 1855, Isaac Stevens negotiated this treaty between the U.S. Government and the Kootenai-Salish and Pend d’Orielle native Indians to create the Flathead Reservation in the Mission valley. These tribes reluctantly relinquished their 12 million acres of their ancestral hunting grounds down to 1.25 million which begins in Evaro, Montana and continues past Flathead Lake. The Salish were removed from the Bitterroot Valley as a result of the treaty.
This park is available for day use only and vehicle preference is cars (no R.V.’s). Picnic tables are scattered throughout the park, all in a pristine natural environment. Fish, Wildlife, and Parks operates this relaxing site and offer comfortable amenities for day recreation. There are grills and fire rings close to the picnic tables. Vault toilets and drinking water are available. The park also accommodates handicapped accessible facilities. Because Council Grove Park is a designated “Primitive” site there are no fees to enter but requires a pack in/pack out obligation.
Other things to consider are fishing permits which can be acquired either at any of the fly shops or outdoor gear stores, some conveniently on Reserve Street. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks also issues fishing permits. Fire season in Montana can be tough sometimes, so before starting the fire pit, please check the fire hazard signs for the day. On the return ride, check out some of Missoula’s highlights and museums. After a perfect day in Council Grove State Park, you may just find yourself back there again soon.