Walk a Suspension Bridge or Two at Dover Memorial Park
Dover Memorial Park Offers Great Trails
Last summer the combined efforts of 10 years of volunteer work were opened to the public. The John H. Dover Memorial park is 170 acres of natural area for us to explore, enjoy, and where we can go to learn. The best part is that there are expansions coming in the future to make this an area where you will want to spend a whole day.
Who was John H. Dover?
John Dover was one of the first settlers to the Billings area. He claimed an island in the middle of the river and set about farming. Eventually his farm moved off the island and onto the land near Dover Memorial Park.
Dover, and his heirs, loved the land. While many of the farmers nearby sold their plots to developers, they held onto their land in hopes that it could be enjoyed in its natural state for many years to come. That land was donated to the Yellowstone River Parks Association; it was “developed” into the park we get to enjoy now. Take a look at the Billings Gazette article for the full details on the history and the park.
What We Get from the Park
Before you head out, there’s something to know: dogs are not allowed in the park. Unfortunately they tend to make messes that people don’t clean up, they chase after wildlife, and they can bother other park guests. The result is that none can enter.
But don’t let that stop you from having a great time! There are plenty of trails to hike, sites to see, bridges to cross, and spots to access the river where you can throw in a line in an attempt to hook into an enormous catfish or two.
From the parking area you can take one of two directions, it doesn’t really matter which way you go, the pathways form big loops for your walking, jogging, or biking pleasure. If you head north you get to cross a large suspension bridge that will keep you up and out of the ravines. The views from the bridge are great, and it’s fun to feel the sway beneath your feet.
Keep going and you’ll head along the top of the ridge on your way to Lois Point. Here you can see just about the entire park and survey the trails below. Choose which you want to take, and head back down into the main area.
Along the north side of the park there are some cliffs with swallow nests. The trail turns south and walks you near the water’s edge until you reach Five Mile Creek where you turn back toward the parking lot. There are a couple more bridges to cross, and more wildlife to see.
Future Expansion Area
Many more years into the future there are plans to expand the park even further. It is currently sitting on 170 acres, but the idea is to add another 500 acres. That expansion will include a lake that is larger than Lake Elmo, volleyball courts, a dog park, and much more.
With our support, that expansion could come sooner than later, and will be another great outdoor spot for the Billings community.
Visit Dover Memorial Park
Getting there is easy. Just take Main Street out to where you turn to go toward Roundup or Shepherd, and turn East onto Mary Street. As Mary Street ends, and curves into Five Mile Road, the entrance to the park is on your right. Click here for a map.
Take an afternoon as the weather gets warmer to check out this amazing location to get out and explore the natural Yellowstone River.