Small town Jordan in eastern Montana has so much more than meets the eye.
Offering a unique launching pad to gorgeous canyons, waterways, badlands, and prairies, this seat of Garfield County spills out into Hell Creek Recreation Area, an arm of the gargantuan Fort Peck Lake – which spills out even further into the Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge area.
If you’re looking to fish, swim, hunt, boat, hike, or mountain bike, you’ll find numerous opportunities to do all of these in and around beautiful Jordan, called “The Big Open” by famed 19th-century photographer L.A. Huffman.
Originally home to a plethora of indigeneous tribes, including the Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Jordan as we know it was founded in 1896 by Arthur Jordan, an intrepid hunter who decided to settle his family along Big Dry Creek.
More families trickled into the area, leaving room for an obligatory post office in 1899 before expanding to add saloons, stables, blacksmiths, and more – a true Old West town.
By 1919, the citizens established Garfield County, and Jordan continues to be the only incorporated unit in the county.
The terrain between Jordan, nearby Circle, and other town crop-ups have remained a paleontology hotbed, offering numerous fossils of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures and critters.
To this end, it’s no surprise that Jordan’s Garfield County Museum is featured on the Montana Dinosaur Trail for kids and kids at heart. (That’s you!)
Alright, grab your fishing pole, and let’s head over to Hell Creek Recreation Area to catch some trout and share some of our favorite parts of Jordan and its surrounding areas. This is cowboy and fishing country!
Hell Creek Recreational Area
Originally a state park, Hell Creek Recreational Area is one of Jordan’s happiest summer pastimes with plentiful multi-species fishing (walleye, trout, smallmouth bass, and more!) and a great spot for boat launching along the Missouri Breaks.
With 71 available campsites – over half of which have electrical hookups – this 330+ acre recreation area on the Hell Creek Arm of Fort Peck Lake is a hometown favorite for rest and relaxation. And since this recreation area has Bortle scale class 1 skies, it draws a lot of attention from local amateur and professional star watchers.
In a symbolic move, the land is now owned by the Montana Little Shell Tribe of the Chippewa Indians. Due to conflicts with the federal government – as is the story for so many indigeneous tribes – the tribe went without its own reservation for most of its history, but its members thankfully now have access to land of their own.
Be sure to check out the Hell Creek Marina, a private marina offering bait (of course!), groceries, gas, and other staples.
If you’re interested in a designated swimming area for younger mermaids and mermen, we recommend the Dredge Cuts Swimming Area along the north edge of Fort Peck Lake.
Garfield County Museum
We hope you get the chance to catch the Jordan staple Garfield County Museum which is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 1 pm until 5 pm.
A proud stop on the Montana Dinosaur Trail, It’s got a thrilling full-sized tyrannosaurus rex, as well as numerous other fossils.
Interestingly, the original T-Rex was discovered just north of Jordan in 1902 and has an amazing story as the world’s first T-Rex find!
Don’t forget to check out the homestead cabin, vintage schoolhouse, and black shop replica – this place has it all. Wave to the full-sized Triceratops for us!
UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge
Encompassing over 55,000 acres of protected land, the UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge is home to grazing elk, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, the endangered black-footed ferret, and even antelope.
Perhaps even more interesting, as a rugged and undeveloped Montana site, it’s pretty close to what Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would have seen during their Montana expeditions of 1805 and 1806.
We think that’s pretty cool! Something of a refuge within a refuge, this massive spot offers spectacular views of badlands, prairie, and coulees. Check it out and let us know which area you end up exploring!
Fort Peck Lake Reservoir
The Fort Peck dam is the highest dam along the winding Missouri River, and it’s home base for the Fort Peck Reservoir, an artificial lake popular with swimmers, boaters, fishermen, and all manner of water sports.
While it’s true that the gorgeous Hell Creek Recreation Area is located on the Jordan-adjacent side of this huge lake, Fort Peck is the only lake in Montana where you can harvest delicious king salmon.
Likewise, it’s popular for northern pike and smallmouth bass, so either way, you’re coming home with a good dinner!
Even better, the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge surrounds this reservoir, offering a plethora of opportunities for hiking, biking, wildlife viewing, camping, hunting, and – of course – fishing.
Head to the northern end of Fort Peck Lake for plentiful camping opportunities (Fort Peck Campground, West End Campground), further recreation areas (Duck Creek, Flat Lake), as well as the educational Fort Peck Interpretive Center for an immersive dinosaur experience.
Jordan is surrounded by beautiful nature for fishing and hunting (hello, Hell Creek Recreation Area!), but sometimes it’s nice to pull up your cozy sheets and wake up in a warm, comforting hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast.
We’ve included some of our favorites here, from a lounging breakfast and coffee to relaxed motels with kind owners.
Garfield Hotel & Motel
The folks at this hotel and motel call their abode “quaint, cozy, and nostalgic,” and we couldn’t agree more. Everything from the historic decor to the small touches of comfort makes the Garfield Hotel & Motel an easy yes for us at Discovering Montana.
Built-in 1919, there seems to be a story around every corner of the hotel, and the owners love to share local history with their guests.
Garfield Hotel’s right in the center of town and in walking distance to Panwitz Park or the Jordan Community Pool, but also super close to Hell Creek Bar, a local mainstay that serves great burgers, chicken, and beer.
Just down the road from the Garfield County Museum, we love this impeccably clean and efficient motel in beautiful Jordan.
Sure, it’s budget-friendly (score!) that can doubly cater to your hunting trip or red-eye drive, but the kind and accommodating owners and staff make Motel 200 what it is: a great night’s sleep worth returning to.
Old Dorm RV Park
This RV park is something of a 2-in-1, offering two no-nonsense self-serve RV parks to choose from, one on Montana Street and the other on Marguerite.
If you’re coming through in an RV, these are your go-to overnight spots, with level gravel, full hookups, and a self-service pay station – and they’re pet friendly to boot.
If you’re more interested in tent camping, check out Hell Creek Recreation Area or the nearby K&K RV Park.
Hill Ranch Oasis
And now, for something a bit different: a relaxing Eastern Montana ranch-style bed and breakfast that offers lodging, hospitality, and miles upon miles of nearby hiking, biking, and hunting (The owners will gladly give you a tour of their 11,000-acre ranch!).
Each of their eight charming rooms is themed (Montana, Deer, Pansy, Friends & Family), with our favorite being the Friends & Family room.
We love that Hill Ranch Oasis in neighboring Mosby offers a smaller continental breakfast for those heading out to hunt or a longer full breakfast for those who lounge around with warm coffee.
It’s the little details of care that matter most, and this peaceful bed and breakfast hit the spot!
Being so close to the water, there’s a huge fishing community in and around Jordan that thrives on good fun, competition, and the thrill of the next catch.
Both summer and winter provide fishing tournaments, a real testament to the power of this pastime in eastern Montana. But you can’t go wrong with the county fair and rodeo, since Jordan is the seat of Garfield County.
We especially love the adorable Lil Rodeo Roundup in August, part of the county fair. Yeehaw!
- February – Hell Creek Marina Ice Fishing Tournament (Jordan, MT)
- June – Hell Creek Women’s Walleye Tournament (Jordan, MT)
- July – Hell Creek Tournament (Jordan, MT)
- July – County Bounty Hunt (Jordan, MT)
- August – Garfield County Fair & Rodeo (Jordan, MT – Check out the Lil Rodeo Roundup!)
- November – Cornhole Tournament (Jordan, MT)
Activities Near Jordan
- Cohagen, MT (24 miles)
- Mosby, MT (52 miles)
- Brockway, MT (55 miles)
- Circle, MT (66 miles)
- Winnett, MT (76 miles)
- Miles City, MT (83 miles)
- Fort Peck, MT (93 miles)
- Hell Creek Recreation Area
- Fort Peck Campground
- Harris Hunts and Fort Musselshell Outfitters (Mosby, MT)
- Hell Creek Marina
- Rock Creek Marina
- The Pines Recreation Area
- Devils Creek Campground (Brusett, MT)
- Crooked Creek Campground (Winnett, MT)
- Ross Childers Hunting Area (Brusett, MT)
- Billingsley Ranch Outfitters (Glasglow, MT)
City Parks & Pools
- Panwitz Park
- Woodland Park
- Willems Park
- Kariotis Park
- Jordan Community Pool
National and State Parks
- Hell Creek Recreation Area
- UL Bend National Wildlife Refuge (Great Falls, MT)
- Pirogue Island State Park (Miles City, MT)
- Makoshika State Park (Glendive, MT)
- Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
- Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Local & Nearby Favorites
- Hell Creek Bar & Grill
- The Summit Corral
- Ranchers Bar & Cafe
- Coffee Grounds
- Ryan Grocery
- Fort Peck Marina and RV Park (Fort Peck, MT)
- Brockway Supper Club (Brockway, MT)
- Wooden Nickel (Circle, MT)
- Lunch Box (Circle, MT)
- Hot Stuff Pizza (Circle, MT)
- Montana Towns, Cities & Communities
- The Best Small Towns in Montana to Retire
- When Is The Best Time to Visit Montana?
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