Medicine Rocks State Park is located on the wind-swept plains of Eastern Montana, amid a sea of prairie grass.
The Native Americans referred to it as the “big medicine” region. Medicine Rocks State Park, owned by the state of Montana, is about 25 miles west of Baker and 11 miles north of Ekalaka, Montana.
The park is named for the “Medicine Rocks,” a group of 60 to 80-foot-tall sandstone pillars with naturally formed spooky undulations, tunnels, and holes.
Medicine Rocks’ history dates back to when the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, and Sioux cultures were claimed to have used the location for religious and ceremonial purposes.
Early military maps, such as a “War Department Map of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers and their Tributaries” created in 1859-60, show that the place was known as “The Hole-In-Rock” to Euro-Americans. By 1880, hunters, farmers, and cattle ranchers had begun to arrive in the Medicine Rocks area.
Now let’s dive into the more interesting bits of information regarding The Medicine Rocks State Park.
Medicine Rocks State Park Stats
- Size (acres / ha) – 330 acres/ 134 ha
- Elevation – 3379 feet
- Season – Park – Open All seasons (Day Use only) – 7 am to 10 pm
- Camping – Open all year
While the campgrounds are open all year, they are only offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Day use entrance fee with a vehicle: $8
- Day use entrance fee as a walk-in, bicycle, or bus passenger: $4
- With a Nonresident Entrance Pass: Free
For Montana residents who pay the $9 state parks fee with their annual automobile registration, there are no day entry costs to state parks. Residents who do not include this in their automobile registration are subject to non-resident day usage fees.
Depending on the season and the facilities you want, camping fees may range from $4 to $35 per night.
The unusual sandstone pillars with antique pictographs and petroglyphs painted and carved on them are the major attraction that draws visitors and especially history aficionados to Medicine Rocks State Park.
The geology of Medicine Rocks State Park is thought to be between 60 and 65 million years old, as it is part of the “Fort Union Sandstone Ridge System” that has eroded into sandstone pillars.
Interestingly, the majority of this park is located inside the “Fort Union Formation” – a geologic formation. The sandstone forms found at Medicine Rocks State Park were formed by past tides and sand bars naturally over time.
Numerous fossils going back 63.3 million years have been discovered at the site, aiding in the dating of the sandstone forms. Among these are various fossil snakes as well as Plesiadapis anceps teeth!
Natural occurrences such as fast winds, sand, mud, and rain chiseled the sandstone over millennia, resulting in a plethora of tunnels, columns, arches, pillars, holes, and flat-topped sand formations.
Some of the sandstone constructions are 60 to 80 feet tall and 200 feet wide. Today, the state park contains about 100 of these rocks and spires. Some are grouped together seemingly like links of a chain, while others jut up from the grassland in solitude.
Now that we’ve covered the historical aspects, the statistics, and the major attraction of Medicine Rocks State Park, it’s time to get to the fun stuff.
This park is not just about the formations and the history, but it also offers a variety of other recreational opportunities.
Woodhouse’s toad, Mule deer, sharp-tailed Grouse, and Antelope, thrive in this park. The park also has 44 plant species which are classified.
Plus, apart from the animals mentioned before, you’re also likely to spot white-tail deer, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, badger, red fox, porcupine, mink, greater sage grouse, ring-necked pheasant, great blue heron, wild turkey, red-tailed hawk, and the prairie falcon.
Luckily, by the late 1800s and early 1900s, Medicine Rocks had become a popular area to visit and camp, as well as a popular picnic spot, which still remains to this day.
On a short 75-mile track, you are allowed to set up a little camp, picnic, cycle, look for animals, or go trekking. There are around 12-14 camping spots, each with picnic tables, vault toilets, grills, fire rings, a group use area, water pumps, and drinking water.
Campers may remain for up to 14 days in a 30-day period. If you’re interested in exploring some nearby areas in Baker, you’ll be glad to find that there are two golf courses and a museum.
Also close, Ekalaka has the Carter County Museum for dinosaur enthusiasts as well as some great places to try out for dinner.
So, in a nutshell, when you visit Medicine Rocks State Park, you may stroll through the grassland and woodland, crawl into caves, and capture great images of the rock formations!
Take in the beauty and enjoy a picnic! Be on the lookout for species such as Woodhouse’s toads, Mule deer, Antelope, and sharp-tailed Grouse!
Spend the night at one of the 12 rustic campsites! You can also go stargazing on a clear night, or schedule a visit during a meteor shower!
The Medicine Rocks State Park map is crucial for all of our hikers. It will not only save you time, but it will also help you explore the park with ease.
Another fascinating fact is that the International Dark-Sky Association has designated Medicine Rocks State Park as an “International Dark Sky Sanctuary”.
Medicine Rocks State Park and Glacier National Park are Montana’s only designated dark sky regions. The nonprofit raises awareness about light “pollution” in Montana by co-sponsoring dark sky star parties at Medicine Rocks State Park and other places across the state.
Medicine Rocks, as a “National Historic Site”, is vital to the region’s natural and cultural legacy, and the landscape must be protected. Dark Sky events and astrophotography courses hosted inside the park by “Carter County Museum and Montana State Parks” have helped to develop the area as a destination for astronomical observers as well as history aficionados.
We recommend that you seek one of the seminars while planning your vacation to Montana and the Medicine Rocks State Park since they are not only informative but also entertaining and engaging.
Places to Stay Nearby
The Sagebrush Inn
The Sagebrush Inn in Baker, Montana, is a well-known motel in the area. The hotel takes pride in its excellent customer service, clean rooms, and convenient location.
Providing you with coffee and coffee pots, complimentary Wi-Fi, an iron and ironing board, hairdryers, and cable TV along with a fridge and microwave available in all rooms; Sagebrush Inn promises a pleasant stay.
After a long day of work or sightseeing, you can relax in the Gazebo area and opt to grill some burgers on the complimentary gas grill provided to you. The Sagebrush Inn is a wonderful spot to unwind!
Jackson Village Cabins
Jackson Village Cabins in Baker, Montana offers one of the best lodging options for you and your family. You’ll find yourself relaxing in your own cabin, laden with all the comforts of home.
Along with the complimentary local wireless phone, wireless internet, and Cable TV on a flat-screen TV, as well as great customer care, you also get hot water and of course clean comfortable bedding.
Since the location of these cabins is so central you can easily stroll downtown, where you can discover fantastic places to eat, go shopping or bowling, etc. or you can simply enjoy a calm walk around Baker Lake.
Whether you are simply passing through, are on vacation, visiting family and friends, or stopping by for work; Jackson Village Cabins can provide you with a pleasant and peaceful stay.
Midway Motel takes pleasure in providing its guests with top-notch service, affordable prices, and clean rooms. All units are on the ground floor and have two queen beds, separate heat, and air conditioning along with TV and Wi-Fi. A picnic area outside is also available for your entertainment.