Planning a getaway to Montana? This vast state has so much to offer the adventurer, the outdoors fan, the nature lover and the historian. Visiting Montana means you get to see a glimpse of the Old West and all of its traditions and beauty, along with friendly residents and curious tourists.
The natural sights, such as the Old Faithful geyser, hot springs, mountain ranges and wildlife wherever you look will awe you. Learn about the history of mining and the gold rush at world-class mining museums, take a road trip across the Going-to-the-Sun Road and take a beat to absorb the silence and reverence of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument as you honor the Native Americans and cavalry who battled there. But most of all, take a deep breath and know that you’re visiting a state that is still very wild and pure. It’s something to behold.
Here’s our list of some of the best places to visit in the great state of Montana:
Best Parks in Montana
- Not only is this Montana park breathtakingly beautiful, but it’s also unlike anywhere else in the USA.
- We highly recommend a guided tour for first-timers so you know where to see incredible wildlife like mountain goats, wolves, grizzly bears, foxes, elk, bighorn sheep and other animals that live in Big Sky country.
- Green valleys were carved by slow-moving glaciers over thousands of years, and the Going-to-the-Sun Road transects the park for access to all of it.
- Rock climbing sites are not overcrowded here and local guides are available to make sure you’re staying safe. Lastly, make sure you get to see a few of the sparkling waterfalls in the park, particularly Saint Mary Falls.
- Most people have heard about the Old Faithful geyser, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful is just one of many geysers in the park, even though it’s the most dramatic. The Norris Geyser Basin is actually the oldest and has the hottest water.
- Stop and snap a photo at Firehole Canyon Drive, where you’ll see a waterfall right in the middle of a volcanic rock canyon.
- You might even think about booking an RV rental and staying in one of the campgrounds in the area. Companies like RVShare.com will even deliver an RV to you, in many cases.
- No matter where you end up, don’t forget to stop by one of the many hot springs in the area for a nice, relaxing soak.
- Located northwest of Bozeman and southeast of Butte, this state park’s main feature is a large limestone cavern system. The cavern is open between May and September and requires a guide; they’re also first come, first served.
- In December, the guides will bring you into the caves for a lovely candlelight tour. If you choose to visit this state park, there are several lodging options, including a campground with 40 campsites, a tipi and three cabin rentals.
Best City Centers and Resort Towns
Missoula is the home of lush greenery and gardens, which explains why it’s called the Garden City. It’s the meeting point for three rivers and was submerged under 2,000 feet of water until the land emerged to reveal a gorgeous valley.
- It’s clear why the director of the 1992 Brad Pitt movie A River Runs Through It chose to film in Missoula; the fly fishing in this town is epic.
- Water sports are also popular here, and whitewater rafting is available nearby along with kayaking and other boating.
- You’ll also find a hopping nightlife, including live music and farm-to-table restaurants here.
Helena is the Montana state capital and seat of Lewis and Clark County, located north of Butte and southwest of Missoula. Founded during the Montana gold rush during the 1800s, Helena thrived and continues to be a great place to visit.
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- Downtown, you’ll find ExplorationWorks, a science, technology, math and engineering museum the whole family will love.
- Visit the capitol building, the Cathedral of St. Helena, the original governor’s mansion and the Montana Historical Society Museum while you’re in town.
- Take a break for a bite to eat and a cold brew at the Lewis and Clark Brewing Company or Blackfoot River Brewing Company.
Great Falls is where you’ll find the intersection between old west art and nature at the C.M. Russell Museum.
- More than just a small town, Great Falls hosts fun events like the Ice Breaker Road Race.
- The Sunday Sampler event allows you entry into all of the town’s museums for free, live theater, live music and plenty more.
- Stop at one of the breweries or the distillery for a local beverage before you leave.
- During the cold months strap on a set of cross-country skis or snowshoes and get a little exercise.
Butte is pronounced the same as the last word in this statement: “Butte is a beaut!”
- Tucked into the Rocky Mountains, this town sits between Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
- It’s the site of the World Museum of Mining, gorgeous Victorian architecture in the historic district, and the Old Lexington Stamp Mill Gardens.
- A trolley tour is a smart way to see the city and take in the history and the Spooks and Spirits Haunted Tour might just convince you that ghosts exist outside of ghost towns.
Billings is by population the largest city in Montana, with about 120,000 people living there.
- Outdoor enthusiasts will find adventure along the Yellowstone River or climbing sandstone cliffs.
- Hikers and bikers can take advantage of the 47 miles of trails along the Rimrocks.
- In the winter, skiers can swish down freshly-powdered runs and in warmer months experience the Beartooth Basin Summer Ski Area.
- Looking for more creative pursuits? You’ll also find art museums and art galleries in Billings.
Bozeman, Livingston, Big Sky
Bozeman, Livingston and Big Sky anchor southwest Montana in the corner touching Idaho and Wyoming.
- This trio of towns includes Montana State University, ice climbing at Hyalite Canyon, and the Museum of the Rockies as well as a plethora of outdoor activities.
- Try Freshwater fly fishing on the Gallatin River or the Missouri River, which is the longest river in the USA.
- Hiking the Fountain Paint Pot trails and skiing the Bridger Bowl are terrific options for some fresh air.
- One reason this area is so popular is that it’s the best of both worlds: restaurants, shops and places to relax in town, and an easy 90-minute drive to the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.
- Big Sky Resort is a beautiful place to stay, and there are numerous others in this area.
Whitefish is just 25 miles from the entrance to Glacier National Park, making it a great place to start a day trip.
- The local residents are friendly and own cute coffee shops and restaurants like Café Kandahar & Snug Bar and The Bierstube.
- While the ski resorts in this area are extremely popular in the winter for snowmobiling fans, skiers and snowboarders, the summer offers unique activities like an alpine slide, ziplining, hiking and biking.
- Check out the Whitefish Mountain Resort to rest your head.
Gallatin is only 12 miles from Bozeman in the Custer Gallatin National Forest.
- Spire Rock Campground and Spanish Creek Picnic Area are must-see sites in the area and there is lots of wildlife to see and beautiful vistas to experience.
- The 320 Guest Ranch is the ideal place for horseback riding; the team wrangles 60-80 horses per day for its visitors.
Kalispell is one of the gateways to Glacier National Park and is also central to Flathead Lake, Whitefish Lake and the twisty Flathead River.
- In the town, the Hockaday Museum of Art features Montana-based artists, and the Northwest Montana History Museum is a lovely way to spend a quiet afternoon.