The Bears Paw Mountains in north central Montana are one of the more intriguing ranges of mountains in the state. The Bears Paw Mountains are considered prairie island mountains and were formed by active volcanic activity about 50 million years ago. The original names are from native Cree and Blackfeet people who referred to them as “The Mountains of the Bear.”
The Mountains cover about 40 miles east to west and about 20 miles in distance from north to south. The park lies within the boundaries of Hill County, Blaine County and the Rocky Boys Indian Reservation.
The Bear Paws are essentially divided into two distinct areas – east and west. The western half of the mountains is where the tallest peaks are located, with the tallest, Baldy Mountain, rising to an elevation of 6916 feet. The western Bear Paws are characterized by moderately tall mountains that are also moderately wooded, both on the mountains themselves as well as down in the valleys below.
By contrast, the eastern Bear Paws are characterized by a mix of rolling, grassy hills with moderately tall mountains and/or buttes rising from the valley floors. Additionally, since the eastern half of the Bear Paw’s receives less moisture than the western half, trees are generally confined to the peaks themselves, while the valleys below are open expanses of grass.
Located 10 miles south of Havre on highway 234, the Bears Paw Mountains are an excellent place to visit if you like to explore. You won’t find any “must see” tourist attractions here. Instead, you’ll find a mountain area that has changed very little over the past years. For anyone who enjoys seeing big spaces and exploring new places, by all means, make time to spend a day in the Bears Paw Mountains.
Beaver Creek Park, claimed as the largest county managed park, is found in the Bears Paw Mountains. Beaver Creek runs through the park as it flows out of the Bears Paw Mountains and eventually to the Milk River. Two manmade lakes, Bear Paw Lake and Lower Beaver Creek Lake are within the park boundary and provide for camping and excellent fishing.