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Tower Rock
Great Falls, Montana
September 13, 2022

Distance: 3.2 km (2.0 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 165 m (541 ft)

In 1805, Captain Meriwether Lewis looked up at a 120-metre-high rock and wrote, “This rock I call the tower.” So it became known as Tower Rock and later the area became a state park. Tower Rock State Park lies 30 minutes south of Great Falls. It is a charming area to explore, especially when you want to stretch your legs after a long drive from Calgary.

Dinah and I paid the $7 required by non-residents of Montana and stepped onto the trail. It slowly climbs parallel to the highway before turning to the base of Tower Rock. Here the trail rises steeply, and we slipped on loose dirt and stones. Trekking poles help here.

The trail reaches its highest point on the west side of Tower Rock. But the summit, it turns out, was out of our reach. Surrounded by nearly vertical cliffs, it's a class 5 scramble. But the trail continues, dropping down before rising to a small high point overlooking the Missouri River. We made this our summit. Although smoke from faraway forest fires cast a veil on our surroundings, we still appreciated the views for the slight effort to get there. I took a panorama and we started back down. We explored the ridge north of Tower Rock, remarking on what a nice area it was, before returning to our car. We had more driving ahead of us.

KML and GPX Tracks

The trailhead. Tower Rock is far left.

Starting up the trail

The leaf points of soapweed yucca are needle-sharp!

The trail turns before reaching the Tower

At the end of the designated trail, there's a dedication (mouse over to read)

We looked for rattlesnakes but didn't see any

Continuing up the trail. The Missouri River lies below.

The trail turns towards Tower Rock

We had trouble hiking here and slipped on loose stones

We followed the trail as it climbs to the right side of the rock

The trail tops out next to vertical rock but continues to a south point

We looked for a way up but it appeared hopeless

Looking back at Tower Rock

Heading to the small high point

Standing on top

We headed back and took in the view north

We wandered to the huge boulders on the ridge

As Dinah headed back down (below, centre), I climbed a boulder to view Tower Rock (mouse over for a close-up)

Hardy (2.0 mi, 3950 ft, 420 ft)

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