The beauty of the encircling Ozark region and the constant movement of clear water from the numerous springs attracted settlers to the Montauk region early in the 19th century. These same natural resources attract people to this secluded area today. The springs in the northern end of Montauk State Park combine with tiny Pigeon Creek to make up the headwaters of the renowned Current River. The park draws fishermen for the exceptional trout fishing, and vacationers head to Montauk in the summertime to enjoy all of the outdoor activities available in the park and the surrounding area.
Early residents came to the region from New York State and named their first post office after Montauk in Suffolk County, Long Island. The word Montauk is an old Indian word believed to mean "hilly" or "fort country", and this part of the country lives up to its name making it a great place for fishermen and naturalists alike. Due to its closeness to the springs and its plentiful supply of water power, the village of Montauk turned out to be an outstanding location for milling. A total of four mills served the city at various times. The last, a gristmill built in 1896, still stands in the park. The mill has nearly all of its original machinery and is open seasonally for tours.
Since its purchase by the state in 1926, Montauk State Park has become one of the more popular vacation spots in Missouri. It's one of three Missouri state parks noted for fine trout fishing. The official trout season starts March 1 and runs through October 31. Catch-and-release fishing is available on weekends during the winter. A fishing license and daily trout tag will be required. The cold, spring-fed waters are well stocked by the park's trout hatchery, which is handled by the Missouri Department of Conservation.
It's not necessary to be an angler, however, to enjoy all that Montauk State Park and the nearby area have to offer. The Current River is recognized as among the finest canoeing rivers in the Midwest. Though canoes aren't permitted inside the state park boundaries, the northmost canoe access to the Current River, Tan Vat, is situated slightly below the park's southeast border. Both the Current River and neighboring Jack's Fork River are designated as National Scenic Riverways by the National Park Service, which helps maintain them in their natural, free-flowing state.
Hiking one of the park's trails is a superb way to see the area's natural environment. Several species of native Missouri wildflowers can be seen all over the springs and along the Current River. Pine Ridge Trail takes hikers out of the valley, through a part of the park's natural area, and across the picturesque hilltops. For a more relaxing walk, visitors can see Bluff Spring along the level Montauk Lake Trail.
Located adjacent to the Current River, Montauk's campground features electric and basic sites with paved level pads, fire grills, picnic tables and lantern posts. Some campsites may be booked in advance. Facilities include modern restrooms, hot showers, dump stations, coin-operated ice and laundry machines and a campfire wood lot. A modern dining lodge centrally located within the park opens every day throughout the trout season and on weekends during the winter catch-and-release season. A shop in the lodge is filled with grocery items, camping, and fishing supplies.