Montana is a rare place, where a person can slow down and enjoy the grandeur of nature and the American West. With just one million residents spread out over more than 38-million hectares (an area larger than Germany), it is one of America’s greatest unspoiled treasures of scenic lands and wildlife. And a mix of modern and traditional cultures make it the ideal place to experience the history of the frontier and authentic small-town American life.
Often called the “Crown of the Continent”, northwest Montana’s Glacier National Park is one of the most intact ecosystems anywhere in the earth’s temperate zone. More than 1,100 km of hiking trails and one spectacular drive across the continental divide on the 80-km Going-to-the-Sun Road offer glimpses of grizzly and black bears, moose, bighorn sheep, elk, mountain lions and other wildlife.
Yellowstone National Park, accessible by car from three separate entrances in the southern part of Montana, is the world’s largest active volcano. Geysers, hot springs and other thermal features are surrounded by mountains, rivers, canyons and prairies that are home to one of the last remaining wild bison herds and two species of wolves in their natural environment.
But uncommon natural beauty is not confined to national parks. It stretches across the state, rewarding visitors who venture off the beaten path with 24 mountain ranges, millions of hectares of public lands and wilderness preserves, alpine lakes, wide open plains, natural hot springs and famous fly-fishing streams. Montana is a place where travelers can enjoy the magnificence of the natural environment by day and relax in the hospitality of charming small towns by night.
The state is home to a few small, sophisticated cities where beautiful surroundings have attracted adventurers, artists, writers, musicians and outdoorsmen for decades. Along the highways that cross the mountains and plains are tiny western towns that have changed so little over the years that arriving for a rodeo or festival can feel like stepping back in time. But whether visiting a town of 400 or a city of 40,000 (large for Montana!), one thing visitors are sure to find is truly friendly people who are willing to share their version of the good life through food, hospitality and the outdoors.
In Old West ghost towns like Virginia City and rural rodeos like the Wolf Point Wild Horse Stampede, Montana’s mining history and cowboy culture come alive every day. And the seven Indian Nations and many Native American communities across the state work to preserve a history much older than the United States, including public events like the reenactments at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.
Montana is natural wonders, charming small towns, friendly people and life at a slower pace—a land full of experiences that truly can’t be found anywhere else.
Don’t leave without tasting…
Huckleberry pie is seasonally available in many restaurants in northwest Montana, but a favourite spot for it is Two Sisters Café, near Babb, just a few minutes from Glacier National Park.
You might be surprised by…
Dinosaur fossils. So many, in fact, that you can trace them across the state on the 14 stops of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Not to be missed is the Fort Peck Interpretive Center, with the life-size Peck’s Rex, one of the most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons ever found.
Glacier National Park as seen from the historic 52-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road.
Your child will always remember…
The first time a cowboy helps him or her into the saddle for a horse ride out on the trail. Many of Montana’s dude ranches have riding programmes for children.
If you want to fit in…
Leave the furs and bling at home. Instead, pack your most comfortable jeans.
Classic road trip
As Highway 89 weaves its way through Montana, travellers are afforded outstanding views of Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as a sweeping spread of land characteristic of the state's modern west.
- Virginia and Nevada, ghost towns that straddle Highway 287, offer rooms in historic buildings and a chance to learn about the gold-mining era of the 1800s
- Pompeys Pillar, east of Billings, is a rock outcrop where Captain William Clark (of the famous Lewis and Clark exploration team) carved his signature and the date, 1806.
One awe-inspiring building
The St. Ignatius Mission, built in the early 1890s, is on the Flathead Indian Reservation, with the Mission Mountain Range serving as a splendid backdrop. This Catholic church is unique because 58 original paintings by Brother Joseph Carignano line the walls and ceilings.
Just want to indulge?
Check into one of luxurious properties—Paws Up Resort, the Ranch at Rock Creek or Triple Creek Ranch—for the best in lodging, dining and pampering.