Montana, also known as “Big Sky Country,” is a great place to go if you love the beauty of the great outdoors. Montana is mostly a rural state with national parks, miles of open land, a lot of wildlife, and beautiful scenery.
But there are also several lively towns that have a touch of cowboy culture to them. When you’re planning your next trip to this state, don’t miss out on any of these amazing places to visit.
Best Places to Visit in Montana
Most of Montana is surrounded by mountains, especially in the western half, where the Rocky Mountains Continental Divide stands out. In this rough area, you can visit places like Glacier National Park, which is known as the “Crown of the Continent” and is known all over the world.
But Glacier is just the tip of all the things to do in Montana. Some of the country’s largest rural areas and millions of acres of national forest are also in this state. And in the middle of these big, open areas, cities like Missoula and Bozeman offer other cultural attractions.
1. National Park Glacier
The Crown of the Continent is a good name for Glacier National Park in Northwest Montana. It has the same name as Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park, with which it shares a border.
The park is on both sides of the Continental Divide and has the beginnings of three of the largest rivers in North America. It is also one of the best state and national parks in Montana.
Southwest Montana is home to the city of Bozeman, which is a college town with great access to the woods. This lovely western town is surrounded by places like Bridger Bowl Ski Area and Custer Gallatin National Forest, which offer adventures that are very Montana all year long. Bozeman is a great place to go camping, fishing, and skiing because it is easy to get to wild places.
Bozeman is also a great place for students because it is home to Montana State University. This gives the historic downtown Main Street and the steady flow of young people, especially on the weekends, a more intellectual feel.
3. The city of Missoula
Missoula, a college town, is a great place to visit or live for a long time. The Clark Fork River flows right through the middle of town, linking the old downtown area to the train station. With a large number of colleges and a strong local community, the city has a lot to offer in terms of culture and fun.
In addition to the campus of the University of Montana, other fun things to do in the city include the Missoula Art Museum, a lively music scene, and A Hip Strip, a row of local shops. The Clark Fork River Trail runs along the river and is the main way for people to get to different places and activities.
4. The whitefish
In Northwest Montana, Whitefish is a big stop on the Empire Builder Amtrak line. It is a vacation town because Whitefish Mountain Vacation, also called Big Mountain, is right next to it. It’s also a good place to start exploring Glacier National Park since the western Apgar Entrance is only about 30 minutes away.
Whitefish is also a great place to stay when going to other beautiful places. Along with Glacier National Park to the north, Kalispell and Flathead Lake can be reached quickly by car from the city. Kalispell has a small-town feel and a Western look, just like Whitefish.
5. National Park Yellowstone
The northernmost part of Yellowstone National Park can be reached from Gardiner, Montana, which is at the south end of Paradise Valley in the southwest part of the state. The Boiling River and the colorful travertine terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs are right outside this park gate. The Albright Visitor Center and the old Fort Yellowstone are also there.
Just going to see Mammoth Hot Springs is a good idea. In this hot part of the park, you can camp, eat, and walk on boardwalk paths. Yellowstone is almost 3,500 square miles big, and this unique and smelly side of the park is a great place to start. This includes a lot of natural places to go and see.
Butte is a good place to visit to get a real taste of Montana. It is in western Montana, near where Interstates 90 and 15 meet. Butte used to be known as the “Richest Hill on Earth,” and the mining business has been there for a long time. You can still see signs of this on the streets today.
The Berkeley Pit, which is on the edge of the city, and the World Museum of Mining, which is on top of the old Orphan Girl Mine, are bright reminders of this past. One of the best ways to learn about Butte’s past is to go on one of the town’s many guided tours. Some of the most popular narrated tours, like the famous Underground City Tour, are offered by Old Butte Historical Adventures.
Helena was once called “Last Chance Gulch,” and it has been the state capital of Montana since 1889. It has a long past that includes the Montana Gold Rush. Much of Helena’s gold-panning past can still be seen today, especially in Reeder’s Alley, which is close to downtown and has a restored Pioneer’s cabin.
Mount Helena is the city’s most famous landmark, and the park with the same name is a great place to hike and see great views close to downtown.
At the ExplorationWorks Plaza in Helena, children can visit an interesting science museum and the Great Northern Carousel. The Cathedral of St. Helena, which is over a hundred years old and stands out near the city center, is an easy-to-appreciate piece of building in Helena.
8. The Flathead Lake
Northwest of Montana, Flathead Lake is an amazing body of water. It has more than 180 miles of shoreline and is one of the biggest lakes in the American West outside of Alaska. Even if you don’t stop at the seasonal roadside cherry stands, it takes at least 45 minutes to drive the length of the lake.
Wild Horse Island is one of the most exciting parts of Flathead Lake State Park. Wild horses still roam this lake’s biggest island, which can only be reached by boat. On the west side of the lake, near Wild Horse Island, there are towns that rent sailboats, kayaks, and power boats.
9. Great Falls
The number of world-class museums, restaurants, and real Montana activities in Great Falls is growing. It’s also a place with a lot of history, going back to the time when Cowboy Artists, the Corps of Discovery, and native people lived there. And now it has a lot of fun things to do and great places to visit.
The C.M. Russell Museum and the Paris Gibson Square Museum of Art both show some of the most famous works of modern and Western art. And the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center tells more about the city’s long and interesting history.
10. Phillipsburg and Anaconda
Southwest Montana is home to two ancient towns that are now popular tourist destinations: Philipsburg and Anaconda. The 64-mile Pintler Veterans Memorial Scenic Highway, also called the Anaconda-Pintler Scenic Highway, links the two towns. And most of the drive goes through the beautiful Beaverhead Deerlodge National Forest.
Philipsburg is a lovely mining town from the 1800s with a fun main street that is about an hour east of Missoula. Along the street in Philipsburg are art studios, old-fashioned soda shops, and The Sweet Palace, which is one of the best candy stores in the country. You can also dig for Montana sapphires and other Western gems in the city area.
Montana has a unique taste that can only be felt by going there. It has lakes that were formed by glaciers and mining towns with tall headframes. But travelers should be aware that once they get a taste of Montana’s wild adventures and wide-open areas, it’s hard to live anywhere else.