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Visiting Lake Elmo State Park Montana

Arielle Sanchez
August 21, 2020

Whether you’re gazing at majestic mountain tops or spelunking through caverns, Billings, Montana, is known for its uninhibited natural beauty. There are many places for hiking, fishing, and other recreational activities in the area. Lake Elmo State Park Montana is located within Billing’s city limits. Only 20 minutes away from the Dude Rancher Lodge, Lake Elmo Stake Park is a charming place for an afternoon stroll.

About Lake Elmo State Park Montana

Lake Elmo View

Lake Elmo is a 64-acre human-made reservoir that lies just north of Billings, Montana. The lake initially provided water to nearby farmlands, diverting water from the Yellowstone River and feeding it through over 60 miles of canals to reach the lake. It was originally named Holling Lake Reservoir but was later changed to honor Elmo McCracken, who owned much of the land in the lake’s northern section. Over time, property owners around the lake added beach areas for swimming in the summer and cleared out snow for ice skating in the winter. By the mid-20th century, the area was home to a lakefront supper club and restaurant. At one time, you could also spot water skiers enjoying the waters during the summer.

Lake Elmo became a state park in the 1980s and has since become a place for both tourists and locals to enjoy hiking, swimming, and fishing.

Activities at Lake Elmo

Man fishing in a lake

Lake Elmo provides a place to hike, fish, and swim right in Billings’s heart, Montana. Walking around the lake on the 1.5 mile-long trail is a great way to spend an afternoon. In the summer, wildlife and birds find a home on the shores of Lake Elmo. Visit in the fall and take in the gorgeous beauty of the color-shifting trees that dot the trail. Visitors have spotted wildlife like foxes and native Montana birds like ducks, finches, robins, and sparrows along the way.

Fishing is available at Roger’s Pier. The lake is teeming with fish during the summer, making it a popular spot to fish in Billings, MT.

Man kayaking in a lake

The park has a public boat ramp where non-motorized vessels like kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and board sails are welcome. Swimming is also a popular activity. There are three separate beach areas along the lake to dip your toes or lounge on the beach.

A playground overlooks the lake and provides a place just for kids. There is also a dog park located on the west side of the lake. Dogs are welcome to play and run but must be on a leash at all times.

Another fun activity at the park is visiting the Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks department's regional offices. Inside the office, you’ll see a variety of taxidermied animals. You can also purchase permits and apply for licenses at the location.

Before you go

Paid parking signs

There is a $5 entrance fee per vehicle for non-residents. This fee is charged seasonally Memorial Day through Labor Day. However, the park remains open throughout the year. There is a large parking lot, and the area can get a bit busy on weekend afternoons. The park also has picnic tables and a covered area that you can rent for group events. There are also benches along the hiking trail to take a break to enjoy Billings, Montana's natural beauty.

Discover nature in Billings

Lake Elmo State Park Montana is a great place to spend a few hours exploring nature without ever leaving Billings, Montana's city limits. Are you looking to see what other adventures Billings has to offer? Check out our blog!

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