Located on the eastern edge of a tight-knit community of southeastern Montana, Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park is a winning feat of preservation, protection, and – let’s be honest – real-time entertainment.
Sitting at a whopping 98 acres in size and at an elevation of 3,600 feet, this site is home to the beloved black-tailed prairie dog and their wild habitat, the prairie lands of Montana. Get out your binoculars and let’s go!
While this state park was established in 1974, the surrounding landscape was once home to numerous indigeneous tribes, including the Salish and Cheyenne Indians. And being so close to the Yellowstone River, the wildlife here is abundant – but you’ll probably hear the barking prairie dogs before anything else.
Take a walk around and you’ll find multiple interpretive displays on these beautiful and illuminating creatures.
An education moment: these prairie dogs support their ecosystem by building shelters for themselves and other animals, including owls and ferrets. As so many indigeneous tribes and scientists have said, one thing supports the whole – and these prairie dogs are no exception.
While this state park doesn’t offer any camping sites, it has two picnic sites for a memorable lunch date with your new best friends. But be sure to not get too close and keep your own furry friends leashed – it’s for the best of the ecosystem and your own peace of mind.
What do we love most about this state park, besides the cute prairie dogs? It’s right off the interstate from Big Timber, making it an easy family stop before moving along to nearby museums, restaurants, or golf courses.
And it’s right near a fishing spot on the Yellowstone River, so you can go ahead and stretch out your day of entertainment as long as you want. Sit back, relax, and let’s learn more about this state park’s surroundings.
Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park – A Complete Guide
Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park Stats
- Size: 98 acres
- Season: Year Round
- Hours: Day Use Only
- Nearest Body of Water: Yellowstone River
- Number of Campsites: None
- Number of Picnic Sites: 2
- Wheelchair Accessible: No
Main Attractions Around Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park
Greycliff Prairie Dog State Park is an undiscovered gem of its own, but there are so many beautiful sites around the area that it’s hard to pick and choose. Here are a few of our favorites!
Crazy Mountain Museum
What do we love most about this Big Timber museum? It’s certainly unique, offering a replica Norwegian stabbur, or storehouse, a tipi, a homesteader’s cabin, and a one-room schoolhouse.
But our favorite aspect of the Crazy Mountain Museum is absolutely the Lewis and Clark Garden, which is the last of its kind and features Montana plants named in William Clark’s 1806 journals. How cool is that?!
But of course, they also have archeological and geological artifacts, thanks to archaeologist Sam Morris, indigeneous artifacts, and information on early settlers to the area.
Like many small town museums, Crazy Mountain also has a genealogy branch to extend your family tree a bit further, but we really are all about that Norwegian storehouse.
Why is it there? Sweet Grass County has abundant Norwegian roots and ties – back to that family tree – so the Sons of Norway built the unit as a nod to heritage within an American diaspora.
Then, check out local favorite Thirsty Turtle Burgers & BBQ for a delicious Cajun Bleu Burger and waffle fries.
Museum of the Beartooths
In town for July’s Sweet Grass Festival? Sweet! We recommend checking out the nearby Museum of the Beartooths in Columbus, a space that offers plenty of education around Old West Montana, including a covered wagon exhibit, schoolhouse exhibit, former grocery store, and our favorite, the Apsaaloke exhibit (Education moment: Apsaaloke is the tribal name for the Crow Indians!).
The folks at the Museum of the Beartooths have done such a good job curating their material that we dare say this is one of our favorite small town museums.
If you’re lucky, you might even make it in time for their annual fundraiser, the Stillwater Brewfest. How can you say no to that!?
Absaroka Beartooth Outfitters
Stepping away from museums for a moment, we have to share one of our favorite spots in town, the family-owned Absaroka Beartooth Outfitters.
Whether you’re looking to hunt, fish, ride horses, or go on an adventure helicopter, this is the place to do it. This community of Montana enthusiasts prides themselves on offering a thrilling Big Sky highlight for you and your loved ones, from guides to suggestions.
The wilderness is very clearly a second home to them. And speaking of homes, if you’re needing a place to rest for the night, they also offer accommodations in and around Big Timber, from a ranch to a lodge.
But more than anything, the folks at Absaroka know adventure and they want you to partake in the beauty of Montana rivers, skies, and terrain.
Recreational Activities Around Greycliff Prairie Dog Town State Park
So much fishing and swimming to be around your new favorite state park, as well as camping spots for the initiated and uninitiated.
We’re partial to the beautiful River Rocks Camp for multiple recreational activities, but we’re curious to see what you like most! Your Montana adventure is calling, and we must go!
Hiking & Biking
For a bit of a trek, we like to recommend Meyers Creek Trail, which works great as both a hike and bike trail. It’s only 4.5 miles long, but it hits all the right spots for mountain bikes, hikers – even horseback riding.
Keep in mind that you may be sharing the road with motorcycles for a small portion of the hike!
Another option is the Bitterroot Trail in nearby Livingston, also a fantastic alternative for hikes and hikes. And our favorite? Absolutely Twin Lakes, but we’ll get more into why later. We’ve got you, hook, line, and sinker – and speaking of fishing…
Swimming & Fishing
Being so close to the Yellowstone River has its perks! In nearby Big Timber, you’ll easily find the Otter Creek Fishing Access Site, a great place to hook a line or stretch your legs. There are also spots for camping here, so you can grill your fish right on site (Yum!).
You really can’t go wrong with any of these spots, especially if you get your equipment from Sweetcast Angler in Big Timber (And if you feel more comfortable with a river guide, they’ve got some excellent choices!).
As for swimming, check out River Rocks Camp for a great spot to dip your feet in – or jump in, if you’re feeling brave! Explore Grey Bear, or visit the Lions Club Park swimming pool.
Swimming and fishing in the summertime keep locals happy, and now you can join them. You’re probably noticing that this area of Montana is something of a haven for outdoor activity – and you would be right. Let’s move on to camping!
Even if you’re passing through town on the way to Yellowstone, there are plenty of great camping options near your prairie dog friends.
Our go-to spot is Spring Creek Campground and Trout Ranch, right on the banks of the Boulder River and Spring Creek. The ponds and the scenery make this tucked-away spot a treat, especially on a long road trip.
We also love the aforementioned River Rocks Camp as a beautiful spot for a picnic, surrounded by gorgeous river stones. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the nearby Itch-Kep-Pe Park for its gorgeous spot on the Yellowstone River and free first-come, first-serve camping.
But if you’re after more primitive camping, head over to Half Moon Campground and hike up to Crazy Peak for some beautiful views. You’ll be glad you brought your selfie stick!
Twin Lakes – Length: 8.1 miles
There’s a reason this 8.1 out-and-back trek claims the top spot in our hiking book: it’s one of those places where pictures just don’t do justice. Yes, it’s that beautiful.
Walk along this trail and you’ll probably find moose tracks, numerous waterways to cross, and plenty of Subaru-driving folks. But if you get there a bit earlier, you’ll miss the larger crowds and be able to get your Mindfulness Moment at the top in peace.
Be aware that some parts of this hike can be rocky, so wear close-toed shoes no matter the season. And have fun!
Blue Lake Trail – Length: 7.5 miles
This hike through the Crazy Mountains is a stunner, at over 8,000 feet in a valley between Crazy Peak and Granite Peak.
The nearly 5 hour long trail follows Big Timber Creek for the first three miles, where you might come across some adrenaline junkie extreme kayakers. Wave to them for good luck, and keep your pace on the wide roads.
Past a few ponds, plenty of pines, and bird sounds, you’ll finally get to a view of Granite Lake and eventually Blue Lake. This is a great place to spot for a lightly packed lunch before heading back to town for a drink at Crazy Peak Brewing Company.
Natural Bridge Falls – Length: 0.7 miles
We feel like cooling down a bit after these strenuous hikes. It can’t all be hard work! That’s why we love Natural Bridge Falls at Natural Bridge State Park.
We’ll admit that it’s somewhat remote, but it’s worth the drive for a picnic date. Hike all the way down to the bottom of the waterfall for the noises; stay for the views. Don’t skip out on Natural Bridge Falls while you’re in the area!
Moose Lake – Length: 27.5 miles
We recommend only completing as much of the Moose Lake trail as you feel comfortable with, but anything you complete will be worthy of an ice cream reward.
Hike into Campfire Lake and set up your tent overnight for the next morning’s turnaround, or keep going for even more beautiful views. Depending on how long you decide to do Moose Lake, this can be an epic backpacking trip, or a few hours of glory and accomplishment.
A word from the wise: be prepared to get your feet wet with some larger water crossings! Enjoy the ride!