Known as the “Gateway to the Jewel Basin,” Hobson, Montana is a small but mighty town that understands the importance of neighbors and family.
Once an important freight-wagon crossing along the Judith River, Hobson, and its surrounding areas have consistently inspired artists like Charlie Russell and explorers like Lewis and Clark.
Part of a network maze of small towns in central Montana, Hobson has appreciated and depreciated several times throughout its history, with its first post office established in 1881 under the name of Philbrook.
Once the Great Northern Railroad established a town 4 miles west of Hobson, it had to pave its own way back to relevancy.
Named for S.S. Dobson, an early central Montana rancher, this town offers close proximity to the beautiful Ackley Lake State Park, as well as countless forested campgrounds on either east or west side of the town.
Hobson has a strong sense of itself agriculturally and communally, so let’s keep reading for some of our favorite camping spots, restaurants, and more in this beautiful region of the Treasure State.
Ackley Lake State Park
Drive a few minutes southwest out of town and you’ll hit one of our favorite spots, Ackley Lake State Park, renowned as a natural gem in the heart of Big Sky Country. In fact, famed Montana painter Charlie Russell was so inspired by the scenery that he incorporated it into numerous paintings.
Known for his elevation of the Native American spirit as well as an obsession with the Old West, Russell brought that same sensitivity to Ackley Lake, now a 290-acre state park that offers fishing, boating, swimming, and the occasional bird to watch.
Local fishermen visit this state park for its rainbow trout, muskie, and some good ol’ R&R, while it also offers 26 first-come, first-served rustic campsites at Ackley Lake Campground.
But much like Charlie Russell, we love this state park because it’s so quiet and gives us a chance to reflect. If you live in a surrounding area, check out the Ackley Lake Club, whose love, care, and direction clearly touches every facet of this beautiful state park.
As the only state park in central Montana, locals want to keep Ackley Lake beautiful for future generations. Once you visit, you’ll see why. See you out there!
Something of a historical museum within a historical museum, this local treasure houses some of the area’s most important and celebrated artifacts.
Indeed, the Hobson Museum just off of Main Street was once the Cook and Dunn Drugstore, built in 1909 and in operation for forty years!
As veterans returned from the Second World War, it popped up as an American Legion post for around fifty years, rivaling even the drugstore in timespan. Eventually, it was sold in 2006 and preserved in perpetuity.
These days, it features stories and photographs of the brave souls who made their way to the central Montana area as homesteaders, but we love looking back at the old yearbooks that date as far back as 1914.
Most importantly, though, the Hobson Museum is a repository for the memories of people who have either left us or will soon be gone, offering an opportunity to look back and tip your proverbial hat to Montana folks of the past.
Open Thursday through Sunday from June to September! After visiting this blast from the past, we recommend some finger-licking BBQ at local favorite Full Curl Smokers. Their tender brisket lives rent-free in our dreams, so go check them out!
Judith River Wildlife Management Area
Since we’re in history mode for a moment, you should know that the Judith River has deep roots in American history, named as such by Captain William Clark for his love, Julia.
While that’s incredibly sweet, we’re here to talk about the Judith River Wildlife Management Area just 20 miles down the road that encompasses over 9,000 acres of land to hunt, camp and view exquisite wildlife and nature.
Sitting at the base of miles and miles of forest in the Lewis and Clark National Forest, this region is also home to numerous campgrounds, including the Fred M. Ellis Memorial Campground and the Hay Canyon Campground. We love them for their small size, close proximity to trails, and the south fork of the Judith River.
Indian Hill Campground
Not to give you the bait and switch, but we had to highlight our favorite campground in the Lewis and Clark National Forest: Indian Hill Campground.
With only seven secluded campsites and scenic views, Indian Hill is the pinnacle of recreation and relaxation. Sure, you could head down to Yellowstone, but these spots are much more private – and so close to town.
This campground is especially popular with hikers, with its intermediate, lush trails and great spots along the south fork of the Judith for trout fishing. Don’t forget to bring your telescope for some epic stargazing!
If you’re bringing dogs, please remember to keep them leashed, as bears have been known to wander through the Lewis and Clark National Forest. And since we’re on the topic of bears, you may want to bring bear spray and keep your food stored away properly.
Restrooms are provided. Yep, Hobson is truly the gateway to the Judith Basin – enjoy the stars!
In the other direction, let’s head over to local favorite Old Baldy, just southeast of Hobson proper. Old Baldy – what a name, right? – really sparkles as a 3 or 4-day hiking trip alone or with your buddies.
Heading deep into the woods, you’ll be traveling across numerous ridge tops and hitting some stunning scenery.
We recommend hiking here from mid-spring to late autumn for the best chance at wildflowers and changing leaves – or the best opportunity to eat chili mac. You do you! Bring that bear and bug spray along, and enjoy the ride.
Hobson is situated in the center of a thrilling, pumping Montana heart, making it a prime location to branch off into nature and exploration.
Depending on how you’re traveling, we’ve recommended a few of our top listers, from inns to ranches to RV Parks.
The Stumble Inn – This hyper-local inn off of Central Avenue offers five charming rooms to hit the hay, all inspired by spirits (the drinking kind!), art, and that Big Sky Country mentality.
We absolutely love that every room has its own theme and personality thanks to artwork by Whiskey Ginger, and the owners take good care to ensure their guests’ stay is as comfortable and refreshing as a Gin & Tonic (Goes great with dinner at Tallboy’s Tavern!).
Circle Bar Guest Ranch – It’s easy to understand why Charlie Russell, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark were all captivated with the Judith River and Little Belt Mountains after spending a few nights here. Montana is beautiful in the summer, and the owners of Circle Bar Guest Ranch want to extend a bit of their magic to you.
With 520 acres to explore, this dude ranch offers individualized cabins, horseback riding, archery, an indoor hot tub, and fishing opportunities. We know it sounds like a waking dream, but thankfully, this spot’s summer season runs from May to September, giving ample opportunity to explore your surroundings.
You should know that no pets are allowed on the premises, but the horses would love it if you could feed them a carrot.
Calvert Hotel – Interested in something a little more modern? This boutique is a two-for, with a sleek, vibrant aesthetic and a unique history.
Originally used as a dormitory in 1917 for visiting ranch kids, the Calvert got its glow up with gorgeous white linens, tiled bathrooms, well-executed design, and little glimpses of Lewistown’s past poking through.
But if we’re honest, we give the Calvert a high rating for its in-room Keurig machines. How else are we going to wake up bright and early for a fishing day at Ackley Lake!?
Yogo RV Park – Named for the gorgeous sapphire found in the Jewel Basin area (score!), this family-owned and operated RV Park offers tent and RV camping if you’re looking for something that doesn’t involve so many bears.
It’s right along the Judith River with picnic tables, clean restrooms, free coffee and showers, and plenty of BBQ grills. Perfect for families and those wanting the camping feel without the camping dirt under your fingernails.
Hobson may be small, but its locals know the power of community and gathering together to share in special events, one of the best being the Montana Bale Trail.
While you can find plenty of places to camp or fish around Hobson, here are a few of our favorite events in the surrounding areas – just in case you happen to be around!
- July – Central Montana Fair (Lewistown, MT)
- July – Fourth of July Celebration (Lewistown, MT)
- September – Montana Bale Trail/What the Hay (Utica, MT)
- September – Utica Day Craft Fair (Utica, MT)
- September – Chokecherry Festival (Lewistown, MT)
- December – Charlie Russell Chew Choo Train (Lewistown, MT)
Activities Near Hobson
- Moccasin, MT (4 miles)
- Eddies Corner, MT (8 miles)
- Moore, MT (9 miles)
- Utica, MT (11 miles)
- Straw, MT (17 miles)
- Sapphire Village, MT (21 miles)
- Lewistown, MT (23 miles)
- Judith Gap, MT (28 miles)
- Harlowton, MT (47 miles)
- Billings, MT (136 miles)
- Ackley Lake Campground (Hobson, MT)
- Jellison Place Campground (Judith Gap, MT)
- Cascade Falls Trailhead (Moore, MT)
- Upper Spring Creek Fishing Access Site (Lewistown, MT)
City Parks & Pools
- Hobson Swimming Pool
- Stanford Pool (Stanford, MT)
- Creekside Park (Lewistown, MT)
- Bear Park (Sapphire Village, MT)
- Gibson Park (Great Falls, MT)
- Lewistown Skate Park (Lewistown, MT)
National and State Parks
- Ackley Lake State Park (Hobson, MT)
- Sluice Boxes State Park (Belt, MT)
Local & Nearby Favorites
- Full Curl Smokers (A local favorite!)
- Tall Boys Tavern
- Blue Nugget Bar
- Oxen Yoke Inn
- Office Bar & Cafe (Moore, MT)
- Bar 100 (Judith Gap, MT)
- Loco Creek Grill (Harlowton, MT)
- Montana Towns, Cities & Communities
- Family Towns in Montana
- The Top Things To Do In Lewistown, Montana
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