Fort Owen State Park near Stevensville has been temporarily closed since October, 2020, to allow for public access improvements.

Well, good news, history buffs and nature walkers. Fort Owen State Park will reopen to the public on Thursday, July 1, 2021.  Many of you, particularly in the Bitterroot Valley, know there has been some controversy and negotiations involved in getting things back to normal.

In November of last year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks acquired just under one acre of land adjacent to Fort Owen. This addition now provides improved public access, parking to accommodate individuals and larger groups and clearer separation of park property from neighboring private lands. During the park closure, FWP conducted an inventory of cultural resources that informed the design of the new parking area. The park will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily starting July 1. Good timing, just ahead of the 4th of July weekend.

For those of you who don't know, Fort Owen State Park and Stevensville are the sites of many "firsts" in Montana history and Fort Owen is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area was home to Montana's first Catholic church founded by Father Pierre Jean DeSmet in 1841.

Major John Owen arrived in the Bitterroot Valley in 1850 and established the fort and began trading with Native Americans and the growing number of immigrants. Some pretty cool period furnishings and artifacts are displayed in the restored rooms of the east barracks. Take your time to browse the interpretive signs and exhibits that detail the state park's history.

A Treasure State treasure that we hope will be respected by all who once again have the opportunity to visit.

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