Every time I get out to Headwaters State Park outside Three Forks, MT, I find myself saying, 'Why do I not come out here more often?" It's beautiful all year long, and the views on a clear day, as we experienced on Sunday, are spectacular.

The area is a meeting place of three rivers, but it's also been a meeting place for humans for hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of years. Mountain Men in the 1800s would hold an annual rendezvous there to exchange pelts and stories, while Indian tribes like the Crow, Blackfeet, and Shoshone would camp along the three rivers to trade goods and socialize.

Headwaters State Park, Three Forks, Montana

Merriweather Lewis & William Clark camped at Headwaters in July of 1805 on their journey to find a water passage to the Pacific Ocean. They spent five days there, and it was at this time they gave the three rivers their names, the Jefferson for then president Thomas Jefferson; the Madison in honor of James Madison; and the Gallatin for then U.S. Treasure Secretary.

If you look above the park, across the Gallatin River and below the east end of Fort Rock, you can see a white-faced cliff. At the top of this, Merriweather Lewis stood and looked across the area. He wrote the following in his journal:

I walked up the S.E. fork (Missouri River) about a half mile and ascended the point of a high limestone clift from whence I commanded a most perfect view of the neighboring country.

- Merriweather Lewis in his journal for July 27, 1805.

Credit: Photo by Dave Wooten
Credit: Photo by Dave Wooten

For more info about Headwaters State Park, click here.

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