Last Updated on July 17, 2023

Montana may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of sand dunes, but the state is home to several breathtaking sand dune formations.

From the Koocanusa Sand Dunes to the Sand Dunes Picnic Site and the Medicine Lake Sand Dunes, Montana offers a unique and exciting outdoor experience.

Koocanusa Sand Dunes, Montana
Koocanusa Sand Dunes, Montana. Source: Google Maps.

Sand Dunes of Montana

Koocanusa Sand Dunes

The Koocanusa Sand Dunes are located in northwestern Montana, near the Canadian border. They are only accessible during the winter months when the water levels of Koocanusa Reservoir are low.

The dunes range in height from 3 feet to 40 feet and provide ample opportunities for hiking, sand sledding, and exploring the surrounding trails.

To reach the Koocanusa Sand Dunes, you can drive from nearby cities such as Eureka or Libby, following the scenic Highway 37 that runs alongside the reservoir.

Sand Dunes Picnic Site

The Sand Dunes Picnic Site is located in the Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana. While not as towering as the dunes in Koocanusa, they still offer a picturesque spot for picnicking, hiking, and sand sledding.

You can access the Sand Dunes Picnic Site by driving from cities like Dillon or West Yellowstone. Take Highway 287 to reach the Centennial Valley, where you’ll find the picnic area nestled among the sand dunes.

Medicine Lake Sand Dunes

The Medicine Lake Sand Dunes, located in northeastern Montana near the town of Medicine Lake, are the largest sand dunes in the state.

With heights ranging from 50 to 150 feet, these dunes offer an awe-inspiring landscape for camping, hiking, and thrilling sand sledding adventures.

To reach the Medicine Lake Sand Dunes, you can drive from towns such as Plentywood or Wolf Point. Follow Highway 16 and enjoy the scenic route that leads you to this natural wonder.

Things to Do at the Sand Dunes


Explore the sand dunes on foot by following various hiking trails of different difficulty levels. Immerse yourself in the natural beauty and serenity of Montana’s sand dunes.

Sand Sledding

Experience the thrill of sliding down the sandy slopes by using a sled, cardboard, or even a sleeping bag. It’s an exciting activity that the whole family can enjoy.


Make the most of your visit by staying overnight in one of the campgrounds near the sand dunes. Fall asleep under the starry sky and wake up to the stunning sunrise over the dunes.

Horseback Riding

Discover the sand dunes from a unique perspective by going on a horseback riding adventure. Ride through the dunes and enjoy the scenic views as you explore the area.

Tips for Visiting the Sand Dunes

  • Be prepared: Dress in layers to adapt to changing weather conditions in the sand dunes.
  • Protect yourself: Wear sunscreen and sunglasses to shield against the strong sun rays.
  • Stay hydrated: Carry plenty of water to combat the hot and dry conditions in the sand dunes.
  • Check the weather: Always be aware of the forecast and avoid hiking or sledding in windy or rainy conditions for your safety.

Best Time to Visit

If you’re planning a trip to the sand dunes, consider visiting during the spring or fall seasons. These times typically offer milder temperatures and less crowded conditions. However, if you prefer warmer weather, summer can be a good option, but be prepared for hotter temperatures.

What to Wear

When exploring the sand dunes, it’s recommended to wear comfortable and breathable clothing.

Consider wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothes that provide sun protection, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, and wide-brimmed hats.

Don’t forget to bring sturdy shoes suitable for walking on sandy surfaces, like hiking boots or closed-toe sandals.

Read also: American Sand Dunes: Where to find dunes in the United States

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