Set on an island in the Yellowstone River just outside of Miles City, Pirogue Island State Park dates back to 1882 when it was designated as a public hunting ground for indigenous communities from the reservation downstream from the island.
In 1968 Pirogue Island was donated to Montana by the United States Army Corps of Engineers for use as a state park.
As it is an island, Pirogue Island State Park is only accessible by boat or by wading through the shallow side-channel to the west of the island. If you choose to cross the channel on foot, the best time of year is in the summer when the water flow is significantly lower, making the crossing much easier.
Most folks cross the channel just near the parking lot, where a well-worn path extends across the river and onto the grounds.
The park offers visitors a place to fish, swim, and explore nature. Wildlife that can be seen at the park include bald eagles, osprey, deer, and beaver.
Though there are no campsites – this is a day-use only state park – there are plenty of hiking trails that snake throughout the grounds, giving visitors access to stream beds, grasslands, pine forests, and more.
Pirogue Island State Park Stats
- Fees: $8, Free for Montana Residents
- Size:269 acres
- Season: Year-Round
- Major Feature: Yellowstone River
Main Attractions in Pirogue Island State Park
Though Pirogue Island State Park is day-use only, there are several campgrounds and hotels nearby if you’d like to stay in the area. While you’re in town, you may want to make time to check out a local watering hole or visit the nearby museums.
Miles City Hotel • $$
Originally built by the railroad to accommodate guests from the train station, the Miles City Hotel is a historic hotel in the heart of downtown Miles City.
It’s a family-owned and operated business that’s been in operation for over 100 years, though it has been meticulously remodeled to include all of the modern amenities.
Big Sky Camp and RV Park • $
Big Sky Camp and RV Park has many campsites, with different types of views. You can choose from sites in the forest or sites that are closer to the river, depending on your preference.
If you need electricity, water, and sewage hookups, most sites are accessible, even for smaller RVs.
Tongue River Winery
Open since 2005, Tongue River Winery offers guests wines by the glass, $5 wine flights or bottles to take home with you. If you’d like to sample their wines while you dine, their on-site restaurant is open for lunch and dinner.
They also happily host boondockers to stay overnight on their grounds via Harvest Hosts and have three cozy rooms available in their Bed and Breakfast: the Sunny Room, the Vineyard Room, and the River Room.
The Historic Montana Bar is one of the most popular attractions in Miles City. Built in 1888, it’s one of the oldest bars in Montana. The bar has been remodeled over the years to keep up with the changing times, but it still maintains its original charm.
Range Riders Museum
Offering a glimpse into the history of cowboys, The Range Riders Museum gives you a glimpse into what life was like on the range and how it has changed over time.
Visitors can explore exhibits that document everything from early ranching techniques to modern-day rodeo events, and participate in interactive experiences that educate visitors about cowboy culture and history.
WaterWorks Art Museum
This is a small, but very well-known art museum in Miles City, Montana. The museum has a variety of exhibits including paintings, sculptures, and other art pieces. Though most of the work is local to the region, you’ll find the occasional piece from artists around Montana and beyond.
Activities in Pirogue Island State Park
While there are plenty of common outdoor activities in Pirogue Island state park, it’s also known as the home to several examples of a unique, semi-precious gemstone.
While there are no designated public docks or boat ramps, Pirogue Island State Park is a great place to bring a canoe or kayak. If you’re coming in from out of state, check with the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to ensure your craft is properly disinfected and permitted to enter the Yellowstone River.
Pirogue Island State Park is a great place for anglers, particularly for those seeking trout, salmon, bass, and walleye. You’ll need to have a valid Montana fishing license in order to fish here, and visitors are required to follow all seasonal statutes.
Known as “The Moss Agate Capital of North America,” Pirogue Island State Park is the ideal place to hunt for this unique and elusive gem. Though they are tricky to spot, a successful gem hunt can produce several variegated green stones with their trademark moss-like filaments running throughout them.
Wildlife viewing opportunities are abundant at Pirogue Island State Park, especially if you’ve come to try and spot a bald eagle. In addition to eagles, you may see beavers, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, and otters, though the season you visit can affect wildlife populations significantly.
You can check out the map of the park here to help plan any of your adventures.