Crimson Bluffs

Lewis Journal — July 24, 1805, “…passed a remarkable bluff of crimson coloured earth on Starboard intermixed with Stratas of black and brick red slate.” The historic view of the Crimson Bluffs described in 1805 by Capt. Meriwether Lewis is largely unchanged today.

There is a fenced parking area with signage on River Road, near Townsend, MT. Crimson Bluffs are accessible only by foot traffic a short distance from the parking area. The best view of the Crimson Bluffs is from the Missouri River, heading upstream in early morning light.  “Capt. Clark actually didn’t see the Crimson Bluffs when they came through,” according to local historian, Troy Helmick. “He was walking along the shore at that time up on the top of the bluff.” It was Capt. Lewis, the men, Sacagawea and Pomp who had the best view from their canoes.


Contact Information

Mike Castleberry
Reservations and Information:

8F73+6J Townsend, Montana

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Other Information

  • Hours Open

    Crimson Bluffs Trailhead is accessible 24/7 throughout the year.
  • Seasons Open

    Crimson Bluffs Trailhead is accessible throughout the year.
  • Prices and Fees

    There is no fee to park or visit Crimson Bluffs.
  • Accessibility

    Crimson Bluffs are not accessible for those with wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers. The parking lot is atop the bluffs. The bluffs themselves are nearby, but can not be seen until you walk down a fairly steep trail that leads to the river's edge. The short trip is well worth it though, particularly just after sunrise when the bluffs are their most colorful.
  • Eco Friendly Notes

    Please stay on the trail after leaving the parking lot that leads down to the Missouri River bank. It is unlawful to remove any rocks or other natural materials from this Bureau of Land Management site.
  • Pet Friendly Notes

    Crimson Bluffs are pet friendly, but be aware of prickly pears and other cactus.