Three Forks, Montana: Frequently Asked Questions

Posted by Emily Coombs on Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 at 4:26pm.

Three Forks, Montana, is perfect for those who enjoy living a bit on the fringe. Just far enough to be removed from the city bustle, but close enough to indulge the need for a city-fix when it comes along. The wide-open area is excellent for outdoor lovers and families who want a little slower pace of life. Locals joke that the stoplights are always green in Three Forks. Why? Because there are no stoplights! Are you wondering if this small town is right for you? Here are a few of our Frequently Asked Questions to help you get a feel for it.

What is there to do in Three Forks?

The short answer? Plenty. Three state parks surround the town, Missouri Headwaters State ParkMadison Buffalo Jump, and Lewis and Clark Caverns. Missouri Headwaters, seated at the confluence of the Missouri River, was a stopping point of the Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery. You’ll find camping, hiking, fishing, and historical interpretive trails. Native Americans used the vast limestone cliff at Madison Buffalo Jump for 2000 years, where they ran large herds of bison over the edge for food, supplies, and clothing. Lewis and Clark Caverns, one of the state’s most popular parks, are highly decorated underground limestone caverns.

Bikers love the Headwaters Trail System, built along the old Milwaukee Railroad tracks, or for more adventurous riding, check out Copper City Trails. This recently completed trail system includes trails for all skill levels, including a youth-focused skills park. Most trails are open to hikers and trail runners, but there are a couple of downhill-only bike-only trails for those who want to rock and roll.

Headwaters Public Golf Course is a 9-hole course considered to be fun for both novice and seasoned players. Located right on the edge of town, it’s easily accessible, and the views are spectacular.

Three Forks Ponds are a family favorite. A day-use only fishing site, the area is also suited for canoeing, kayaking paddle boarding, and children’s fishing. Stevenson Park is another summer stop, with a covered pavilion, playground, tennis court, sand volleyball court, facilities, and kids pool.

How did Three Forks get its name?

Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark came across the headwaters of the Missouri July 25, 1805, considered to be the first white men to enter the confluence region. They named the three rivers which formed the Missouri, Jefferson, after President Thomas Jefferson, Madison, after Secretary of State James Madison, and Gallatin, after Treasury Secretary Albert Gallatin. In 1882, a group of Englishmen bought the land, platted the town, and named it Three Forks after the three confluence.

Where is the nearest airport?

Interestingly, Three Forks has a public airport, Three Forks Airport. While commercial airlines don’t fly in, the airport hosts the state’s oldest fly-in every August. It also has a fully operational skydiving drop zone, one of two in the state. However, Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport is just 25 minutes from town with nonstop service to 20 major cities across the United States. In other words, getting in and out is easier than you may think.

What is the economy like in Three Forks?

There’s a lot to be said about the quality of life in this little town of just over 2000 people. The median resident age is 41.6, so you’ll find a lot of families and a lot of interest in sports! The average home price as of February 2020 was $346,643, and the median annual income is $53,750. Significant employers include GCC Trident Plant, a cement manufacturing plant, Imerys Talc America Inc., Wheat Montana Farms and Bakery, and numerous retail stores, lodging, and restaurants throughout town. 

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