Giant Springs State Park
With more than 300,000 visitors each year, Giant Springs State Park is the most visited state park in Montana. Giant Springs was discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 and is one of the largest freshwater springs in the country. The springs flow at a rate of 156 million gallons of water per day, and the water stays at a temperature of 54 degrees. This is also the site of the Roe River, once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s shortest river.
The Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
Managed by the USDA Forest Service, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center includes a permanent exhibit hall, a 158-seat theater, an education room for hands-on curriculum-based activities, and a retail store. The 25,000-square-foot building imparts to the public a personal sense of President Thomas Jefferson’s vision of expanding America to the west. It inspires awe and awakens curiosity toward the challenges faced by the expedition as they portaged the great falls of the Missouri River, interacted with the land’s native peoples, and explored the “unknown.”
C.M. Russell Museum
The mission of the C.M. Russell Museum is to collect, preserve, research, interpret, and educate on the art and life of Charles M. Russell; the art and life of his contemporaries; and the art of preceding and ensuing generations that depicts and focuses on the culture, life, and country of Russell’s West. Visitors can enjoy two floors of exhibits, the C.M. Russell Museum Store, and the Russell House and Studio.
Black Eagle Dam
The Black Eagle Dam has the prestige of being both the first hydroelectric dam built in Montana and the first built on the Missouri River. It is also the only dam within Great Falls city limits. The dam and the town north of it are named after the Black Eagle Falls, which in turn were named after Meriwether’s sighting of a “black eagle” there. The Black Eagle Dam is classified as a “run-of-river” project because it can use the flow of the Missouri to generate electricity without storing additional water supplies.
The six-unit Ryan Dam is a popular recreation site thanks to Ryan Island Park. Accessed by a suspended walking bridge, the park is located on a green island with a picnic area and a lookout spot downstream from the hydroelectric plant. Ryan Dam is close enough that visitors can sometimes feel a mist coming off the heavy water flow.
The Great Buffalo Hunt
A celebration of local art, history, and adventure, the “Great Buffalo Hunt” offers a self-guided tour of painted buffalo throughout Great Falls. More than twenty fiberglass buffalo roam the city, each painted by a different artist in a unique style.
Montana Veterans Memorial
The Montana Veterans Memorial incorporates walls upon walls of tiles, each bearing the name and service branch of a veteran—men and women, from Montana and across the United States. Lewis and Clark have tiles here. Close to 200 Blackfoot warriors are honored. Each year, 200-250 new tiles are added. The words along the outer wall express the memorial’s fundamental purpose: “Lest we forget.”
First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park
Boasting one of, if not the largest bison cliff jumps in North America, First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is rich with Native American history. Going back nearly one thousand years before Lewis & Clark passed through the area, the Plains Indians (and later other tribes as well) utilized the cliff in the hunting of bison, driving herds of the animals over the edge to their doom.